There is no one size fits all definition for homelessness. Pathlight HOME defines homelessness as anyone who lacks housing. A homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single room occupancy facilities, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation.

Within this definition of homelessness are a variety of different circumstances, conditions and severities. Chronic Homeless is typically some who has been without a permanent home for an extended period of time and suffers from a debilitating mental illness, physical disability or substance dependency. The US Government defines Chronic Homelessness as anyone who has been homeless for a length of 12 months or has experienced homelessness in 4 or more episodes over the past 3 years totally 12 months in duration.

Family Homelessness is defined as any adult with an accompanied minor who lacks permanent housing. This includes families who are in temporary shelters and those who survive through short-term rental arrangements like motels. Families with children, single adults, teenagers and older individuals of all races struggle with the devastating effects of homelessness. The primary cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. Over five million low-income households have serious housing problems due to high housing costs, substandard housing conditions or both.