Homelessness, the condition of human beings who lack stable shelter, has become a persistent problem in the United States. More precisely, the legislation authorizing significant federal help for the homeless notes that a person is considered homeless who “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence” (Stewart B. McKinney Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11301, et seq. 1994). This definition includes people who are living in homeless shelters, as well as those living on the streets or in other public or private places that are not intended for sleeping purposes. However, families that are doubling up with friends or relatives, because they cannot afford or locate suitable shelter on their own, would not be considered homeless, although their housing situation is certainly precarious. In fact, many people become homeless when such temporary and often difficult situations are terminated by the host household.
Bratt, R. G. (2003). Homelessness. In J. R. Miller, R. M. Lerner, & L. Schiamberg (Eds.), Encyclopedia of human ecology. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.