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Tales from the Field: When is Housing Considered Adequate?

Several calls on the TEACHS Helpline have referred to various instances where the housing could be considered substandard housing. While the law does not define substandard, USDE’s Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance has set some parameters that include housing being dangerous or out of compliance with housing codes. Here is a Tale that describes an example of substandard housing.

The Tale:

A mother and her 5 and 8-year-old daughters were living in an apartment and attending a New York school district. The landlord had repeatedly shown violent behavior towards the family and had threatened the family’s safety. The ongoing threatening nature of the landlord caused the mother to leave the apartment with her daughters and move in with her mother in a neighboring district.


Questions:

1. Would this family be considered eligible under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act?

2. Would the children be allowed to continue enrollment and receive transportation to the school where they are enrolled?

3. What criteria may an LEA consider when determining if a child or youth lives in “substandard housing”?


Answers:

1. Would this family be considered eligible under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act?

Eligibility under McKinney-Vento is determined on a case-by-case basis. The McKinney-Vento Act defines homelessness as “lacking a fixing, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” That means regardless of any other factors, if a residence is lacking in any ONE of those three conditions, the student is homeless. Second, children and youth living in substandard housing are included in the law. While the law does not define substandard, the USDE Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance has set some parameters that include housing being dangerous or out of compliance with housing codes. (refer to Question A-3)

2. Would the children be allowed to continue enrollment and receive transportation to the school where they are enrolled in?

3. What criteria may an LEA consider when determining if a child or youth lives in “substandard housing”?