Toolkit: Documentation for Chronically Homeless Individuals

Updated on January 23, 2023

The tracking documents included in this toolkit (below) are not required. They are an optional tool for use in tracking and managing your client’s documentation to ensure that you have the required documents per HUD guidelines.

About Chronic Homelessness

An individual or household is considered chronically homeless when the individual or head of household

  • has a disability affecting their physical or mental health and ability to live independently
  • currently lives in a place not meant for human habitation (street, car, etc.), safe haven, or emergency shelter, and
  • has 12 months of documented homeless history, either
    • 12 consecutive months working backward from the current day, or
    • a total of 12 months across 4 episodes in the last 3 years.

The official definition of chronicity is detailed in HUD’s Final Rule defining “chronically homeless”. No information in this toolkit is meant to supersede the definition and requirements detailed in that document.

If you are unsure whether or not your client is considered chronically homeless, use this flowchart created by HUD to help you make this determination.

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Documentation Requirements

It is extremely important to correctly document a client’s homelessness so that chronicity can be determined and used for program eligibility. This toolkit will allow service providers to track the Homeless Documentation and Verification of Disability Documentation required.

Consider the following when determining months, episodes, and breaks in homelessness.

  • One day of documented homelessness in a month is evidence for the entire month, unless there is evidence of a break (see below).
  • One episode spanning multiple months may combine various forms of documentation for that single episode.
  • Breaks in homelessness occur with any stay of seven or more consecutive nights in non-homeless living situations (including a friend or family member’s home, transitional housing*, a hotel paid for by the client, etc.) or institutional facilities longer than 90 days.

Please note the following regarding Transitional Housing:

A stay longer than 7 nights in a transitional housing facility constitutes a break in homelessness. The only exception to this is veterans who are assessed for chronic homelessness at intake, who remain “chronically homeless” even if they are enrolled in VA-funded transitional housing.

Documentation of Homelessness

Homelessness can be documented in a number of ways, including:

  • HMIS Data or HMIS Comparable Database (VSP), including
    • Enrollment in Emergency Shelter
    • Enrollment in Safe Haven
    • Current Living Situation documented in combination with enrollment in Street Outreach
  • Street Outreach Worker Observation and Letter
  • Discharge paperwork from a stay less than 90 days in an institutional facility
  • Referral by another homeless service provider
  • Third-party letters by community members describing physical observations of living conditions

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Verification of Disability

The term homeless individual with a disability’ means an individual who is homeless, as defined in section 103, and has a disability meets one of these three criteria:

  • “Is expected to be long-continuing or of indefinite duration, meaning that it
    • Substantially impedes the individual’s ability to live independently;
    • Could be improved by the provision of more suitable housing conditions; and
    • Is a physical, mental, or emotional impairment, including an impairment caused by alcohol or drug abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, or brain injury;
  • Is a developmental disability, as defined in section 102 of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 15002), meaning that the individual qualifies for or receives Supplement Security Income (SSI); or
  • Is the disease of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or any condition arising from the etiologic agency for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.”


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Toolkit: Documentation for Chronically Homeless Individuals

Updated on January 23, 2023