LEGAL DEFINITION

Is there a legal definition of “homeless people” in your jurisdiction. If yes, where is it regulated?  How is it evidenced?

SPAIN

There is no legal definition of homelessness in Spanish legislation. However, there is an unofficial but accepted universal standardised concept of homelessness in Europe called ETHOS (European Typology on Homelessness and Housing Exclusion), proposed by the European Federation of National Associations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA).

BELGIUM

The definition is the following: 

“1° homeless person: a person who is in one or more of the following situations:

   a) living in public spaces;

   b) does not have housing, is unable to obtain housing by his own means and therefore has no place to stay;

   c) does not have a dwelling that is habitable according to health, safety and habitability standards".

FRANCE

No, in French law, there is no definition of “homeless people” with which a unitary legal regime could be associated. 


The definition proposed by INSEE is not expressly embraced by French law. It is therefore advisable to refer to the meaning of each text to identify the category of persons concerned.

SWITZERLAND

There is no official legal definition of "homeless people" or "homelessness" in Switzerland. 

However, the EU and Switzerland are committed to a largely common understanding of the term. Therefore, the term "homelessness" is linked to the exclusion of the housing market, as mentioned in the Social Investment Pact of the EU (2013). 

UNITED KINGDOM

The UK statutory definition of a homeless person: 

“(1) A person is homeless if he has no accommodation available for his occupation, in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, which he- 

   (a) is entitled to occupy by virtue of an interest in it or by virtue of an order of a court, 

   (b) has an express or implied licence to occupy, or 

   (c) occupies as a residence by virtue of any enactment or rule of law giving him the right to remain in occupation or restricting the right of another person to recover possession. [...]"

UNITED STATES (NY CITY & STATE)

There is a legal definition of “homeless person” under Article 2-A, Title 1 of the New York Social Services Law which regulates State’s homeless housing and assistance program.  The statutory definition is included below.


Under, Section 42(2), a “homeless person” is “an undomiciled person who is unable to secure permanent and stable housing without special assistance, as determined by the commissioner” of Social Services.

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