Marco: Read the Story

Enrique and Yvonne Martinez are migrant farm workers with three children ages 3, 7, and 12. Recently the family left Florida, where they were temporarily living with friends, to work in Michigan during the fall season. They found housing in a migrant camp and enrolled their youngest child, Marco, in the local Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and their other two children in a local elementary school.

One month into their stay, the migrant camp in which the family was living was closed by the Health Department due to unsafe conditions. Many of the families, including the Martinez family, scattered to other locations. The housing in the migrant camp was unavailable indefinitely and so the Martinez family found shelter with another migrant family of three in a small two-bedroom home. Enrique and Yvonne are not sure; however, if this family will allow them to stay through the season. There is a Head Start program in the new service area in which the family is staying, but there is a waiting list.

Read the McKinney-Vento Definition of Homelessness

According to section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)), the term “homeless children and youths”—

(A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence...; and

(B) includes—

(i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

(ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

(iv) migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).

Children and youth are considered homeless if they fit both part A and any one of the subparts of part B of the definition above.

Marco: Explore Information

Before you start the activity, do the following:

  • Consider Marco’s circumstances.
  • Review the information in the links below.
  • If possible, discuss Marco’s situation with a colleague.

Marco: Do the Activity

Is Marco’s family living in a homeless situation?

Choose your answer and read the feedback. Get a hint.

Consider these questions:

  • Have you looked at the definition of homelessness?
  • Do Marco and his family have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
  • Have you listened to the collaboration directors talk about homelessness?

Answers:

  1. Yes, because living in a migrant camp is always considered a homeless situation.

    Not correct. If a migrant family has a permanent residence they can return to, they may not be considered homeless. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do Marco and his family have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do Marco and his family have their own residence in Florida?
  2. Yes, because it is unclear whether Marco and his family will be able to stay with the other family through the season.

    Correct! Living in a migrant camp does not necessarily constitute homelessness, but staying with others temporarily due to loss of housing does meet the definition of homelessness. Furthermore, even though Marco and his family could return to their living situation in Florida, they would not be returning to a permanent housing situation.

    The reason Marco and his family are homeless is because they fit the McKinney-Vento Act definition of homelessness:

    • They do not have a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;” and
    • They are “sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason.”

    Marco and his family have a place to live and they are together, but they are living in a doubled-up situation. They are not living in their own home and it is unclear whether they will be able to stay with the other family through the season. Not all doubled-up situations are defined as homeless and many families in the migrant community are doubled-up. Marco and his family, however, are living in a situation that is temporary, unstable, and they could be asked to leave at any time.

    In regard to homelessness, the migrant community is uniquely different and requires case by case consideration. For example, if Marco and his family had a permanent residence in Florida, then they would not be in a homeless situation even though they lived part of the year away from that residence. Many migrant families, however, move from place to place and share housing with others due to the difficulty of renting a residence for a few weeks at a time. Migrant families without a permanent residence are considered to be in a homeless situation.

    For more information about homelessness, look on the ECLKC in Crisis Support under Family and Community Partnerships.

  3. No, because Marco and his family can return to Florida to live.

    Not correct. Even though Marco and his family could return to their living situation in Florida, they would not be returning to a permanent housing situation. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do Marco and his family have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do Marco and his family have their own permanent residence?
  4. No, because even though Marco and his family had to leave the migrant camp, they are living with another family.

    Not correct. Even though the Martinez family is living with another family, it is unclear whether Marco and his family will be able to stay with the other family through the season. The Martinez family is in a doubled-up situation that is not stable. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do Marco and his family have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do Marco and his family have their own residence?

IMPORTANT! As you consider this scenario and how it might compare to families you encounter in your work, remember that each family’s life situation is uniquely different.

Last Updated: July 9, 2014