According to HUD, a chronically homeless person is an individual with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. This definition encompasses both the long-term and the episodic homeless. Long-term homeless experience homelessness for a year or longer. Episodic homeless have multiple short or long-term episodes of homelessness.
Housing First is an effective tool for ending chronic homelessness. The housing First model focuses on placing homeless individuals and families directly into housing and then providing services to address the problems that led to their homelessness. Housing First has a high level of success in keeping people housed, in effectively intervening with mental illness and substance abuse, and in giving people the stability and support needed to become employed.