Definition and Criteria

The McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act provides a definition of homeless children and youth to be used by state and local educational agencies (LEAs) in 42 U.S.C. § 11434(a)(2). It defines homeless children and youth to be those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Under the larger umbrella of lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, the law also provides several examples of situations that meet the definition.

The examples include children and youth

  • sharing housing due to a loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
  • living in hotels, motels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to a lack of alternative, adequate housing;
  • living in a public or private place not designated for, or normally used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
  • living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar places;
  • living in one of the above circumstances and who are migratory according to the definition in Section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.