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This page provides information about a population that is potentially vulnerable and/or hard-to-reach before, during, and after a disaster event. Preparedness requires understanding the demographics and characteristics of groups who are vulnerable in order to best meet the needs of all persons.

Federal Definition of Homeless

The United States Code contains the official federal definition of homeless (Title 42, Chapter 119, Subchapter I). In general, the term "homeless" or "homeless individual or homeless person" refers to:

  1. An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and
  2. An individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is -
    • A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
    • An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
    • A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

In the state of Florida, the definition of homeless is broader than the federal definition of homelessness and includes anyone who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, or whose primary residence is:


According to the 2010 Annual Report of Homeless Conditions in Florida (prepared by the Department of Children and Families in Florida), approximately 57,643 Floridians are homeless on any given night in 2010. Of these individuals, 51% have been homeless for more than one year, 21% have been homeless less than 3 months, and 76% reported having lived in Florida for more than one year prior to becoming homeless.

General Information

Characteristics of Individuals who are Homeless:

Various Reasons for Homelessness: