Olivia & Tony: Read the Story

Last year, Marissa Preston found herself without a job. She is a single mother raising two children: a 4-year-old daughter, Olivia, and an 11-year-old son, Tony. When she found it increasingly difficult to find a job, she decided to move to another state.

Before making the move, Marissa discussed the situation with her mother. After coming to a mutual agreement, Marissa sent Olivia and Tony to live with her mother (the children’s grandmother). Marissa thought it would allow her the opportunity to focus on job hunting and securing a job. After she relocated to a new state, she was successful in her quest to find a job. Marissa has not sent for her children. They continue to live with their grandmother.

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.

Olivia & Tony: Explore Information

Before you start the activity, do the following:

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

Olivia & Tony: Do the Activity

Are Olivia and Tony 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 Olivia and Tony have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
  • Have you listened to the collaboration directors talk about homelessness?

Answers:

  1. Yes, because they are not living with their mother.

    Not correct. Although Olivia and Tony are not living with their mother, the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness does not refer to living with guardians. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do Olivia and Tony have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do Olivia and Tony have a temporary or permanent living arrangement?
    • Are Olivia and Tony sharing the home equally or are they more like guests in the home?
  2. Yes, because they are not living in a regular housing situation.

    Not correct. Although Olivia and Tony are not living with their mother, they are living in a regular housing situation with their grandmother. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do Olivia and Tony have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do Olivia and Tony have a temporary or permanent living arrangement?
    • Could Olivia and Tony’s grandmother ask them to leave at any time?
    • Are Olivia and Tony welcome in the home?
  3. No, they are living in an arranged situation that was agreed upon by both the mother and grandmother.

    Correct! Olivia and Tony are not homeless because they are living in a fixed, regular, and adequate situation.

    Whether or not Olivia and Tony are considered homeless is based on whether they fit the definition according to the McKinney-Vento Act. Although the definition of homelessness in the McKinney-Vento Act includes “children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason,” the reason Olivia and Tony are not homeless is that they are living in a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence”.

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

  4. No, they are living with a relative in a regular housing situation.

    Not correct. Although Olivia and Tony are living with a relative, guardianship is not part of the definition of homelessness. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Even though Olivia and Tony are not living with their mother, do they still fit the definition of homelessness in the McKinney-Vento Act?
    • Do Olivia and Tony have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Do Olivia and Tony have a temporary or permanent living arrangement?

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.

Olivia & Tony: Try a New Story

Last Reviewed: July 2014

Last Updated: July 9, 2014