Section 2.2: Eligible Participants

To be eligible for the S+C program, a person must be both homeless and disabled. In the case of a homeless household, at least one adult member must meet the program definition of disabled.

Specific targeted disabilities for the S+C program are people with serious mental illnesses, those with chronic substance abuse problems, and those with AIDS and related diseases.

  • The S+C statute states that, to the extent possible, not less than 50 percent of S+C funds be reserved for homeless individuals who are seriously mentally ill or have chronic problems with alcohol, drugs, or both.
  • Grantees may establish a preference for one or more of the disability categories although housing referrals must be made available in the community for eligible persons in other disability categories seeking assistance.

A description of the local S+C project's target population must be included in the grantee's application for funding. In the S+C funding application, prospective grantees must complete a table (reproduced on the next page) to indicate the targeted disabilities and the number of persons they plan to serve. Successful applicants are expected to serve the types and numbers of persons with disabilities shown on this chart. Changing the target population is considered a significant program change that must be approved by HUD. By regulation, the grantee must serve at least as many participants as shown in the application. No program change is permitted in this regard since the amount of funds originally awarded was based upon this number.

Click here to access "Section D. Targeted Disabilities" from a sample of the grantee's application for funding.

Definition and Documentation of Disability

The definition of disabled [24 CFR 582.5] that is used as the basis for determining eligibility in the S+C program is the same as that used in the Section 811 (Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities) program. Persons with disabilities are defined as:

"Persons with disabilities" — a household composed of one or more persons at least one of whom is an adult who has a disability.

1. A person shall be considered to have a disability if such person has a physical, mental, or emotional impairment which is expected to be of long-continued and indefinite duration; substantially impedes his or her ability to live independently; and is of such nature that such ability could be improved by more suitable housing conditions.

2. A person will also be considered to have a disability if he or she has a developmental disability, which is a severe, chronic disability that –

(i) Is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments;

(ii) Is manifested before the person attains age 22;

(iii) Is likely to continue indefinitely;

(iv) Results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity;

(A) Self-care
(B) Receptive and expressive language;
(C) Learning;
(D) Mobility;
(E) Self-direction;
(F) Capacity for independent living; and
(G) Economic self-sufficiency; and

(v) Reflects the person's need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic care, treatment, or other services that are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.

Key to the definition is determining that the impairment is of long-continued and indefinite duration AND substantially impedes the person's ability to live independently. For example, drug or alcohol abuse or an HIV/AIDS condition that does not substantially impede a person's ability to live independently does not qualify as a disability in the S+C Program. Written documentation that a person's disability meets the program definition must come from a credentialed psychiatric or medical professional trained to make such a determination. The possession of a title such as case manager or substance abuse counselor does not by itself qualify a person to make that determination. "Self-certification" is also unacceptable.

Grantees and/or sponsors must have written documentation in their project files that qualifies each participant as having met the program definition of "disabled."

A Note on Care-givers: The term, "person with disabilities" may include, except in the case of the SRO component, a care-giver determined to be important to the care or well-being of a disabled person. However, following the death of the disabled person, the caregiver's right to rental assistance under the Shelter Plus Care Program will end at the end of the grant period or when the caregiver leaves the S+C assisted housing unit, whichever comes first.

Definition and Documentation of Homelessness

In general, a person is considered homeless if, without HUD assistance, he or she would have to spend the night in a homeless shelter or in a place not meant for human habitation.

More specifically, a person is considered homeless only when (s)he resides in one of the four places described below.   For persons assisted with Permanent Housing, in new and renewal projects, they must be homeless and come from:

a)   Places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, and abandoned buildings;
b)   An emergency shelter;
c)   Transitional housing for homeless persons and who originally came from the streets or emergency shelter; or,
d)   A HUD-defined Safe Haven

If a person is in one of the four categories listed above, but most recently spent less than 90 days in a jail or institution, (s)he continues to qualify as coming from one of these categories.

In addition to coming from the above four categories, projects providing Transitional Housing, or Supportive Services Only may also serve populations experiencing the following circumstances:

e)   Eviction within a week from a private dwelling unit and no subsequent residence has been identified and the person lacks the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing; or
f)   Discharge within a week from an institution in which the person has been a resident for 90 or fewer consecutive days and no subsequent residence has been identified and (s)he lacks the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing.

Please Note: For Permanent Housing projects that are applying for renewal funding, the eligibility criteria above apply to the screening process as units become vacant after grant execution. This does not mean that current residents are to be removed from housing if they entered on the basis of e) or f) listed above.

If your state has a policy requiring housing as part of a discharge plan, HUD does not consider those persons homeless since they will be placed in housing arranged by the State. Contact your State Department of Mental Health or similar State agency for information on its discharge policy. If your State does not require housing as part of discharge planning, then those persons being discharged may be served as long as they will meet the homeless definition.

S+C grantees are required to document how it was determined that participants did not have the resources or support network needed to obtain housing. Exhibit 2-1 shows examples of appropriate documentation of homelessness for S+C participants under various scenarios. This documentation must be kept in the participants' files.

Click here to access Exhibit 2-1: Homelessness Eligibility and Documentation Guide.


As a part of the application process for all State and local government applicants, a "Discharge Policy" certification must be signed and submitted. This form certifies that if the S+C project receives funding, the government entity will develop and implement policies to prevent persons discharged from publicly funded institutions from becoming homeless.