Bringing Families Home (BFH) supports to families receiving child welfare services who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, which increases family reunification and prevents foster care placement. The child welfare services that BFH eligible families may be receiving include but are not limited to Family Reunification, Family Maintenance, Emergency Response services, or families in receipt of voluntary supervision to prevent the need for the child’s or children’s removal.
BFH eligibility now includes families who are homeless, at-risk of homelessness, families where the living situation cannot accommodate the child or multiple children in the home, and families who have not yet received an eviction notice.
In general, homeless for purposes of BFH means either 1) an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, 2) an individual or family who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence, 3) living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living arrangements, 4) living in a place not designed for human habitation or for regular sleeping quarters, 5) Fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member, and the family has no other housing and lacks resources to obtain other housing, or 6) unaccompanied youth and homeless families with children and youth defined as homeless under any other federal statute who: (A) have experienced a long-term period without living independently in permanent housing, (B) have had frequent moves over a long-term period, and (C) can be expected to continue in that status for an extended period of time because of chronic disabilities, chronic physical health or mental health conditions, substance addiction, histories of domestic violence or childhood abuse, the presence of a child or youth with a disability, or multiple barriers to employment.
For the purposes of BFH, a person is defined as at-risk of homelessness when they are experiencing housing instability, including recipients who have not yet received an eviction notice; have no subsequent permanent residence secured; and lack resources to secure subsequent permanent housing. Families must be allowed to self-attest that they are at-risk of homelessness.
For purposes of BFH, a living situation cannot accommodate a child or multiple children if it meets all three of the following requirements: A) the parent or guardian’s nighttime residence would not be an adequate or appropriate long term housing placement for children, or situations where a living arrangement, or tenancy would be terminated for the family if children were to live in the home; B) the family has no subsequent permanent residence secured, and; C) the family lacks resources or support networks needed to stabilize their unique housing situation and secure subsequent permanent housing.
Families and individuals must be allowed to self-attest that they meet the definition of “at risk of homelessness”, including that the living situation cannot accommodate a child or children. No additional verification or documentation demonstrating that a family meets the definition of “at risk of homelessness” is needed. BFH programs cannot require further evidence for the purposes of BFH enrollment.
BFH provides rapid rehousing service, which includes housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management. BFH can also provide supportive housing. BFH can also provide homelessness prevention assistance, which includes payment rent or utility arrears, late fee payments, first month rent and/or security deposit, landlord mediation, repairs, habitability/accessibility improvements, and housing navigation.
BFH also provides housing related case management, housing navigation, housing related direct financial assistance, and housing stabilization.
BFH must operate in accordance with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing First principles. This means that individuals should be connected to housing or housing support without preconditions, services must be voluntary, client choice must be respected, and client cannot be rejected on the basis of income, past evictions, substance abuse, or any other behavior that might indicate a lack of housing readiness.
Counties and tribes are exempt from the dollar-for-dollar match requirements for BFH between July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024. (ACWDL, February 11, 2022.)