It depends on whom you ask.
A youth living in a motel is automatically considered homeless under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, which requires school districts to assist with transportation and offer supplies, but that same child and his or her parents are not considered homeless under a definition used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A student living doubled up with friends or relatives because of economic hardship is considered homeless under the act, but not under the HUD definition.
That means the child can get help through the school system, but his or her parents cannot automatically get assistance through HUD.
HUD uses a more narrow definition of homeless, but it was expanded in the first week of December to include people who are in danger of imminently losing their primary nighttime residence within 14 days.
The definition was changed to try to accommodate the new homeless people who have been affected by the economy.
Definitions currently used by school systems:
• A youth or student who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.
• Youths living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds because of a lack of alternative adequate accommodations.
• Youths who are doubled up with other families.
• Youths living in emergency or transitional shelters.
• Youths who are awaiting foster care placement.
• Youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations.
Part of the new definition used by HUD:
• An individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.
• An individual living in a shelter.
• An individual living in a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport or camping ground.
• An individual or family in danger of imminently losing their primary nighttime residence within 14 days.