Skip To Main Content

HEARTH Act

About the Act

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was originally passed into law in 1987 and represented the first significant U.S. federal legislative response to homelessness. The Act establishes the definition of homelessness used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and authorizes assistance to people experiencing homelessness — including housing interventions and supportive services — under HUD-administered programs such as the Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs.

The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act was signed into law on May 20, 2009, amending and reauthorizing the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act with substantial changes, including:

  • Changes to the HUD definition of homelessness and chronic homelessness
  • The requirement for CoCs to implement a coordinated entry system
  • An increased focus on rapid rehousing and continued focus on permanent support housing (PSH)

Additionally, the HEARTH Act includes four "education assurance" requirements, as follows:

  • CoC-funded projects must establish policies and practices that support children’s educational rights under Subtitle VII-B (the education subtitle) of the McKinney-Vento Act and other federal laws [42 U.S.C. § 11386(b)(4)(C)]
  • CoC-funded projects that serve families must designate a staff person to ensure that children receiving CoC services are enrolled in school and connected to school and community services, such as early care and education supports [42 U.S.C. § 11386(b)(4)(D]
  • CoC collaborative applicants must place families with children as close as possible to their school of origin to the maximum extent practicable [42 U.S.C. § 11386(b)(7)]
  • CoC collaborative applicants must collaborate with schools to help identify homeless children, youth, and families and inform them of their educational rights under Subtitle VII-B (the education subtitle) of the McKinney-Vento Act  [42 U.S.C. § 11386a(b)(1)(B)(iii)]

Legislation 

Regulations and Guidance