Terms You Should Know about Homelessness


The state or condition of having no home (especially the state of living in the streets).


An un-emancipated juvenile who has left the home environment without a parent's or legal guardian's permission.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the virus which causes AIDS. HIV is a retro- virus that attacks the human immune system.

"Survival Sex"

Prostitution in order to provide funds for food, shelter or drugs

Homeless Shelter

A place where a homeless person will often get a roof over his/her head. 

Unemployment Rate

The number of people who do not have jobs as a percent of the total number of people who could be working.

Foster Care

Supervised care for delinquent, neglected, or orphaned children in a substitute home. The foster care system in the U.S. is extremely strained for foster families and resources and has had trouble looking out for the health and safety of its children.

Juvenile Corrections System

A facility for the confinement of young individuals accused or convicted of criminal or delinquent activity.

McKinney-Vento Act

The primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness in U.S. public schools passed in 1986.

Section 8

A program designed to increase the housing choices available to very low-income households by creating privately-owned rental housing.

Interagency Council on Homelessness

A federal program and office created by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1986, whose charter is to "coordinate the Federal response to homelessness and to create partnerships between the Federal agencies addressing homelessness and every level of government and every element of the private sector."

Commission to End Homelessness

A commission that works statewide to increase affordable housing opportunities, to expand homelessness prevention resources, and to protect the safety net for individuals and families at-risk and experiencing homelessness.

Homeless Assistance Grants

Grants that provide housing and supportive services to homeless families and individuals across the country. Funds are competitively awarded to localities and nonprofits through a coordinated community-based process of identifying and addressing the needs of the community.

Check out our Action Guides and help fight homelessness. GO



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