On July 22, 1987, the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act became public law. This was the first comprehensive federal law that address homelessness in America. It was included in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110). Subtitle B addresses education for homeless children and youths (sec 721-726).
The McKinney-Vento Act defines “homeless children and youth” as individuals who lack a fixed regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes:
Children and youth who are:
- sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as doubled up);
- living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
- living in emergency or transitional shelters;
- abandoned in hospitals; or
- awaiting foster care placements;
Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place note designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.