Norhill Family: Read the Story

In November 2008, the Norhill family’s three-bedroom home was totally destroyed in a hurricane. Given that the Norhill family includes four children and that they live in a city far from their relatives, they didn’t feel comfortable imposing themselves on their friends and families.

Mom and Dad Norhill continued to work for their respective employers and they decided that the family would live in an extended-stay hotel until the house is rebuilt. They were told that it could take approximately four months before they are able to move back into their home. They are concerned that they may not be able to afford the extended-stay hotel for four months.

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.

Norhill Family: Explore Information

Before you start the activity, do the following:

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

Norhill Family: Do the Activity

Is the Norhill 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 the Norhill children have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
  • Have you listened to the collaboration directors talk about homelessness?

Answers:

  1. Yes, because they are living in a hotel.

    Correct! The Norhill children are in a homeless situation because they are living in a hotel rather than in their own home.

    The reason they are homeless is because they fit the McKinney-Vento Act definition of homelessness. They are “living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations.”

    Although the family is together, the parents are employed, and they appear to have sufficient financial resources, their home was destroyed and they do not have an alternative housing arrangement. As a result, based on the McKinney-Vento Act, they are considered temporarily homeless until their home is rebuilt.

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

  2. Yes, because their home was destroyed.

    Not correct. The destruction of their home is not the sole criteria for determining whether the Norhill children are homeless. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do the Norhill children have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do the Norhill children have a temporary or permanent living arrangement?
    • Do the Norhill children have their own residence?
  3. No, because they will be able to return to their home once it is fixed.

    Not correct. Although the Norhill family will be able to return to their home once it is rebuilt, what is their status currently? Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do the Norhill children have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do the Norhill children have a temporary or permanent living arrangement?
    • Do the Norhill children have their own residence?
  4. No, because they can afford to live in a hotel.

    Not correct. The definition of homelessness in the McKinney-Vento Act is not based on financial status, but rather it is based on specific criteria. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do the Norhill children have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do the Norhill children have a temporary or permanent living arrangement?
    • Do the Norhill children 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.

Norhill Family: Try a New Story

Last Reviewed: July 2014

Last Updated: July 9, 2014