Affordable Housing Glossary

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  1. Accessible Housing

    Housing is accessible when public or common areas of the building can be approached, entered and used by someone with a physical disability. Accessible housing may have ramps, elevators and wider doorways to accommodate people with mobility improvements. Other accessibility features include wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and universal design features like lever door handles.

  2. Accessible Route

    A continuous, unobstructed path through sites and buildings. The path should connect all accessible features, elements and spaces allowing passage by physically disabled people. Accessibility features like wider doorways and ramps are often used to provide clear access for all visitors.

  3. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)

    Refers to state and local government obligations under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to improve outcomes from fair housing policy to reduce housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. State and local governments must not just outlaw housing discrimination. They must also proactively work to eliminate discriminatory practices and reduce segregation.

  4. Affordability

    The extent to which thre are enough rental units at different costs in an area to meet the housing needs of each renter household, paying 30 percent of their income for rent.

  5. Affordable Housing

    According to the federal government, housing is affordable when rent or mortgage payments (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) plus utilities are no more than 30% of the occupant’s monthly income.

    Regardless of income, policymakers consider households contributing more than 30% of their income towards housing as cost burdened.

  6. Affordable Housing Program (AHP)

    A Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) program that provides competitive grants and subsidized loans through local bank members to support affordable housing deelopment. Use of funds is flexible and they can be used with many other programs.

  7. American Community Survey (ACS)

    A national survey by the U.S. Census Bureau that collects information such as age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, veteran status and other important household data. It is collected more regularly than the decennial census. The ACS helps communities be more responsive planning for their needs in between each decennial census.  

  8. American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI)

    The 2003 American Dream Downpayment Act authorized creation of this initiative as part of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). It can provide downpayment assistance and cover closing costs. It can also fund some rehabilitation done in conjunction with the home purchase.

  9. American Housing Survey (AHS)

    Contains data on apartments, single-family homes, mobile homes, vacant homes, family composition, income, housing and neighborhood quality, housing costs, equipment, fuels, size of housing units and recent movers. Conducted by the Census Bureau every other year, it includes data on a sample of 50,000 housholds and all new construction each year. Additional samples every 4-6 years measure local conditions.

  10. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a broad civil rights law guaranteeing equal opportunity for indiviudals wirth disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.

  11. Analysis of Impediments (AI)

    An analysis required of local jurisdictions and organizations that receive federal housing funds which provides a review of barriers to fair housing choice. It serves as the basis for fair housing planning and provides information to policy makers, housing providers, lenders and the public.

  12. Annual Adjustment Factor (AAF)

    Section 8 vouchers and project-based rental assistance receive annual rent adjustments from HUD. HUD adjusts rent levels on the basis of Consumer Price Index data on changes in residential rent and utility costs around the country. HUD publishes the Annual Adjustment Factors annually in the Federal Register.

  13. Annual Contribution Contract (ACC)

    Annual contracts with public housing authorities for payments towards rent, debt service and modernization.

  14. Area Median Income

    Area Median Income (AMI) is a metric calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to determine the income eligibility requirements of federal housing programs.


  15. Bedrooms

    The number of bedrooms in a housing unit includes those rooms that are used mainly for sleeping or designed to be a bedroom even if used for other purposes.

  16. Blighted Structure

    A structure that exhibits signs of deterioration serious enough to pose a threat to human health, safety and public welfare.

  17. Brownfield

    Abandoned, idled and underused industrial and commercial property with real or potential environmental contamination. Brownfields can range in size from a large industrial dumping site to the former location of a drycleaning business. 

  18. Building Code

    A set of building construction requirements developed and adminisgered by national, state and local bodies to ensure that buildings meet minimum standards for sttrudtural integrity, safety, design and durability.


  19. Capital Fund Program

    The Capital Fund Program (CFP) provides financial assistance to PHAs to improve existing public housing or develop new public housing. This includes mixed-financed properties that have some public housing units. Improvements can range from major work to replace roofs or heating systems to renovations that improve accessibility and energy efficiency.

  20. Census Tract

    A small statistial subdivision of a county or statistically equivalent entity. Each tract has a Census Tract Number. Census tract-level data is used by the government, researchers and businesses for a variety of purposes. This includes redrawing congressional district maps every 10 years after the decennial census..

  21. Census Tract Number

    A four-digit basic number, followed by an optional two-digit decimal suffix. This number is used to uniquely identify a census tract within a county or statistically equivalent entity.

  22. Chronic Homelessness

    Chronic homelessness is experienced over a long period of time, or jin regular cycles in and out of homelessness. HUD defines chronic homelessness as an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. See also Homeless-Individual'>Chronically Homeless Individual.

  23. Chronically Homeless Individual

    A homeless individual with a disability who lives either in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven or in an emergency shlter, or in an institutional care facility if the individual has been living in the facility for fewer than 90 days after being without shelter. To be considered "chronically homeless," the individual must have been living without shelter as described for 12 continuous months or at least four separate occasions over the past three years, where the combined total of time without shelter was at least 122 months.

  24. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

    The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by federal government agencies. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to federal regulation.

  25. Combined Statistical Area (CSA)

    A CSA may comprise two or more metroplitan statistical areas, a metopolitan statistical area and a micropolitan statisitical area, two or more micropolitan statistical areas, or multiple metropolitian and micropolitan statisitcial areas. The combined areas have social and eocnomic ties as measured by commuting, but at lower levels than are found among counties within metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas.

  26. Commercial Building

    Any building other than a residential or government building. These include any building constructed for industrial, retail, business or public purposes.

  27. Community Planning and Development (CPD, HUD)

    HUD office responsible for developing viable communities through integrated approaches to housing, public living environment and economic opportunity. CPD administers the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs, among others focused on housing and community development.

  28. Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy Data (CHAS)

    Data not generally available through standard Census products. It is provided to HUD by the U.S. Census Bureau. CHAS presents data that demonstrates the extent of housing problems and housing needs with a focus on low-income households.

  29. Condominium

    Also referred to as a condo. A form of ownership where the separate owners of the individual units jointly own the development's common areas and facilities. In addition to their mortgages, condominium owners pay dues for the upkeep of common areas. Upkeep of common areas and rules for the property are typically0 overseen by an association of the condo owners.

  30. Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA)

    An area that has a census population of one million or more. It has component parts that qualify as primary metropolitant statistical areas based on official standards and local opinion favors the designatioon. CMSAs consist of whole counties, except for the New England states where they consist of county subdivisions (primarily cities and towns).

  31. Continuum of Care

    A collaborative funding and planning approach that helps communities address homelessness. Continuum of Care participants plan for and provide, as necessary, a full range of emergency, transitional and permanent housing and other services to address the needs of homeless persons.

  32. Cooperative

    Housing in which each member shares the ownership of the whole project. Each member has the exclusive right to occupy a specific unit and to participate in project operations through the purchase of stock. 

  33. Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA)

    Refers collectively to metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas. CBSA's are one or more counties anchored by an urban center of at least 10,000 population plus the adjacent counties tied to the urban core by commuting.

  34. Cost Burdened

    Policymakers and advocates consider a household cost burdened if more than 30% of their income goes towards housing costs. Being housing cost burdened is an indicator that a household may be unable to afford other critical and nondiscretionary costs such as health and child care, food, and transportation.

  35. Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act (NAHA)

    NAHA created programs in 1990 to empower low income people through a variety of economic incentives, low-income homeownrship opportunities and other housing and economic development programs. It established the HOME block grant program. It also created the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), Shelter Plus Care, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities and HOPE programs.

  36. Credit Period (LIHTC)

    In projects funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), with respect to any building, the span of taxable years begining with the taxable year in which the building is placed in service. The taxpayer may elect instead to designate the succeeding taxable year, but only if the building is a qualified low-income building as of the close of the first year of such period.


  37. Debt Service

    Required payments for principal and interest. Payments are made with respect to a mortgage secured by real property. Real property consists of land and housing.

  38. Decennial Census

    Undertaken by the U.S. Census Bureau every ten years ending in zero. It provides a count of the population and housing units for the entire United States. Its primary purpose is to provide the population countes that determine how seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are apportioned between the states.

  39. Deed-in-Lieu

    To avoid foreclosure, a deed is given to the lender to fulfill the obligation to repay the debt. The homeowner cannot remain in the home but can avoid the consequences of foreclosure.

  40. Default

    A failure to comply to make any payment or to perform any other obligation under a mortgage, and such failure continues for a period of 30 days. Default is typically the trigger for foreclosure proceedings to begin.

  41. Demonstration Program

    An initiative by the Department of Housing and Urban Development designed to develop, test, and implement new housing assistance strategies and policies. 

    Demonstration programs are typically limited to a small sample of Public Housing Agencies.

  42. Density

    The average number of dwelling units or persons per gross acre of land, excluding any area of a street bordering the outside perimeter of a development site. It is usually expressed in terms of units per acre.

  43. Difficult Development Area (DDA)

    Any area designated by the HUD Secretary as an area that has high construction, land and utility cost relative to the area median gross income. Affordable housing projects proposed for DDAs receive a boost in credits available under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.

  44. Dilapidated Housing

    A housing unit that does not provide safe and adequate shelter and in its present condition endanger the health, safety or well-being of the occupants. HUD and the Census Bureau quantify this as a building having one or more critical defects or a number of intermediate defects that would require substantial construction to repair.

  45. Disability

    A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual. Disabled persons qualify for Section 8 and public housing waiting list preferences. HUD's Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program provides accessible and affordable apartments for low-income persons with disabilities.

  46. Discriminatory Effect

    A practice has a discriminatory effect when it actually or predictably results in a dispartate impact on a group of persons. A discriminatory effect also occurs when a practice creates, increases, reinforces or perpetuates segregated housing patterns because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familal status or national origin.

  47. Domestic Violence

    Includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse. It also includes crimes of violence committed by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

  48. Dwelling

    Any building, structure or portion therof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupany as, a residence by one or more households. Dwellings may be single-family homes or multifamily structures, occupied by either renters or owners.


  49. Earned Income Disallowances for Persons with Disabilities (EID)

    Disallowance used to calculate tenant rent for the HCV program. This disallowance is only for persons with disabilities who are newly employed or receive increases in income.

  50. Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity(ECHO) Units

    Small, free-standing, barrier-free, energy efficient and removable units designed to be installed adjacent to existing single-family dwellings. ECHO units are designed to provide accessible housing for elders so that they can live independently close to family or other supportive households.

  51. Elderly Person Household

    A household composed of one or more persons at least one of whom is at least 62 years of age at the time of initial occupancy. Also referred to as Elderly Household or Senior Household.

  52. Emergency Exception Payment Standards

    Public housing authorities may request emergency exception payment standards outside the "basic range" 90 to 110 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). This is typically done to accommodate cases in which the prevailing rents in part of the FMR area are much higher or lower than the FMRs for the entire area.

  53. Emergency Shelter

    Any facility where the primary purpose is to provide temporary or transitional shelter for persons experiencing homelessness. Emergency shelter may serve the general population of homeless persons or specific populations of homeless people, such as veterans, youth or victims of domestic violence..

  54. Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) Program

    A federal program administered by HUD to improve the quality of existing emergency shelters for the homeless and funds creation of new additional shelters. It also covers shelter operating costs, provides social services to homeless people and supports homelessness prevention programs. ESG can also provide short-term assistance to persons at imminent risk of losing their own housing due to eviction, foreclosure or utility shutoffs.

  55. Eminent Domain

    The power of government to take private property for public use. In addition to government, many quasi-governmental agencies have the power to take private property for public use. Examples of these agencies include port authorities, highway commissions, community development agencies and utility companies.

  56. Energy Audit

    Any process that identifies and specifies the energy and cost savings likely to be realized through the purchase and installation of particular energy eficiency measures or renewable energy measures. Energy audits are often used to determine the need for more insulation, upgrading heating/cooling systems and determining the cost-effectiveness of energy saving lights, fixtures or appliances.

  57. Energy Performance Contracting

    Innovative financing technique that promotes installation of energy efficient housing improvements. It uses cost savings from reduced energy consumption to repay the cost of installing energy conservation measures. 

  58. Enterprise Income Verification (EIV)

    On-line reporting system provided by HUD. PHAs use the EIV system to review earnings and other income received by participants of HUD housing programs.

  59. Equitable Land Use Planning

    Zoning, land use regulation, master planning and other land use planning that, at a minimum, furthers the purposes of Title VI of he Civil Rights Act, Section 504 o the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Fair Housing Act and are intended to achieve additional objectives for expanding housing choice. It ensures that land use planning meets the needs of all groups within a community and offers marginalized groups greater choice in the location of their housing.

  60. Eviction

    The dispossession of the tenant from the leased unit as a result of the termination of tenancy. This includes expiration [of the lease or termination prior to the end of a lease term. Eviction prior to the end of the lease term usually results from tenant violations of the lease provisions, such as failure to pay0 rent or damage to the unit.

  61. Extremely Low-Income Household

    Households with incomes below 30 percent of area median income. Most federal affordable housing programs serve households earning up to 80% of area median income.  


  62. Fair Housing Act

    1968 Act (amended in 1974 and 1988) providing the HUD Secretary with fair housing enforcement and investigation responsibliities. It prohibits disccrimination in all facets of the homebuying and renting process. Specifically, it prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability.

  63. Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP)

    Provides funding for public and private entities formulating or carrying out programs to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices. FHIP organizations assist persons who have been victims of housing discrimination. They also conduct preliminary investigations of claims, and pursue initiatives that promote fair housing laws and equal housing opportunity awareness.

  64. Fair Market Rent

    Commonly abbreviated as FMR, the Fair Market Rent is the average rent and utility costs for newly leased, non-luxury rental units with basic amenities. Fair Market Rents are used to set rental assistance payment standards for federal housing programs.

  65. Fair Market Value

    The amount of money that would probably be paid for a property in a sale between a willing seller, who does not have to sell, and a willing buyer, who does not have to buy. In real estate transactions, fair market value is estimated through the appraisal process. This involves property research and market analysis by a professional appraiser.

  66. Family

    All persons living in the same household who are related by birth, marriage or adoption. In HUD-assisted housing, all persons sharing a dwelling unit are referred to as a family, whether related or not.

  67. Family (HUD Definition)

    HUD defines a family as a 'single person or a group of persons,' including a household with or without children. A family may include unrelated individuals. HUD would also consider a single person without children as a family.

  68. Family Income

    Reported income from all sources for the Head of Household and other household members. Income earned by minors under 18 years old is excluded.

  69. Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS)

    Established by the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act in 1990. The FSS program helps residents of public housing and participants in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program become self-sufficient. FSS provides education, training, case management, matched savings and other supportive services.

  70. Family Unification Program (FUP)

    A program under which Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are provided to two different populations. It serves families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in requiring the family's children to be in out-of-home care or the delay their return from out-of-home care. There is no time limit on FUP family vouchers. The program also serves youth 18-24 years old leaving foster care and at risk of homelessness. Eligible youth can receive FUP assistance for up to 36 months.

  71. Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

    An agency within HUD that provides mortgage insurance on loans by by approved lenders throughout the U.S. and its territories. FHA insures mortgages on single-family, multifamily and manufactured homes and hospitals. The mortgage insurance compensates lenders for losses when borrowers default on their loans.

  72. Federal Register

    Published by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules and notices of federal agencies. It also publishes executive orders and other presidential documents.

  73. FHA-Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP)

    This program allows homeowners to modify their FHA-insured mortgages to reduce monthly mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. As part of qualifying, the borrower must complete a three-month trial period making payments at the new rate.

  74. Flat Rent

    Flat rent is set based on the market rent charged for comparable, nearby units in the private unassisted rental market. Unlike income-based rent, flat rate rent does not fluctuate with changes in household income or size but will increase or decrease with the unassisted rental market.

    Federal programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program offer below-market-rate flat rents for low-income households.

  75. Foreclosure

    The legal process by which a property may be sold and the proceedds of the sale are applied to the mortgage debt. A foreclosure occurs when the loan becomes delinquent because payments have not been made. It can also occur when the homeowner is in default for a reason other than the failure to make timely mortgage payments, as spelled out in mortgage documents.

  76. Frail Elderly

    An elderly person who is unable to perform at least three "activities of daily living." Activities of daily living are eating, bathing, grooming, dressing or home management activities.


  77. Geocoding

    The process of identifying the coordinates of a location given its address. Geocoding is used in mapping programs to represent and compare data by geographic location.

  78. Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE)

    Government Sponsored Enterprises are companies chartered by Congress to fulfill important public purposes. They are independent companies and not government agencies, although their operations are subject to federal oversight and regulation. The U.S. Postal Service is a GSE, as are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which provide a secondary market for residential mortgage loans.

  79. Gross Annual Income

    The total income received by all members of the tenant's household. This is the amount before taxes and deductions are subtracted.


  80. Handicap

    A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. This also includes having a record of such an impairment or being regarded as having such an impairment.

  81. Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)

    A program that provides eligible homeowners the opportunity to modify their mortgages to make them more affordable. HAMP is used when borrowers are at risk of falling behind in the payments on their FHA-insured mortgages.

  82. Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)

    Under this program, Government Sponsored Entities will purchase any refinanced mortgage that they own or guarantee when the property is owner-occupied. The borrower must have sufficient income to support the new mortgage debt and the first mortgage cannot exceed 125 percent of the current market value of the property.

  83. Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)

    Also called a "reverse mortgage," it is used y senior homeowners 62 years or older to convert the equity in their home into monthly streams of income and/or a line of credit. The loan is repaid when they no longer occupy the home. The loan is made by a mortgage lender, bank, credit union or savings & loan and is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

  84. Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)

    Enacted in 1975, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requires most mortgage lenders located in metropolitan areas to collect data about their housing-related lending activity. Lenders must report the data annually to the government and make their data publicly available.

  85. Homeless

    An individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. Additionally, an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations, 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.

  86. Homeless Prevention

    Activities or programs designed to prevent the incidence of homelessness. These include but are not limited to: 1) short-term subsidies to defray rent and utility arrearages for families that have received eviction or termination notices; 2) security deposits or first month's rent to permit a homeless family to move into its own apartment; 3) mediation programs for landlord-tenant disputes; 4) legal services programs that represent indigent tenants in eviction proceedings; 5) payments to prevent foreclosure on a home; and 6) other innovative programs and activities designed to prevent the incidence of homelessness.

  87. Homeownership Zone Program (HOZ)

    Allows communities to reclaim vacant and blighted properties, increase homeownership and promote economic revitalization. The initiative accomplishes this by creating entire neighborhoods of new, single-family homes, called HOZs.

  88. Household

    All the people who occuipy a housing unit. A household includes the related family members and all the unrelated people. Unrelated people may include lodgers, foster children, wards, or employees who share the housing unit. A person living alone in a housing unit, or a group of unrelated people sharing a housing unit such as partners or roomers, is also counted as a household.

  89. Housing Adequacy

    Any one of fourteen different conditions that result inthe classification of a unit as having severe physical problems. Some of these problems include lack of running water or electricity. Other problems involve lack of key fixtures, like a bathtub or shower. Still other problems are related to the physical quality of the unit, such as exposed wiring or structural deficiencies.

  90. Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)

    The monthly dollar amount a Public Housing Authority (PHA) would pay, directly to the landlord, on behalf of the Section 8 Voucher holder. The amount of HAP is the difference between the unit rent and the tenant contribution. The tenant contribution in the Section -8 voucher program is 30% of monthly income. 

  91. Housing Authority

    General term used for a Public Housing Agency (PHA), which is a government entity authorized to administer HUD housing programs. Most of these agencies have the term "Housing Authority" in its title, but not every agency does so.

  92. Housing Authority Annual Plan

    A document that contains policies, programs, operations and strategies for meeting local housing needs and goals. Public housing authorities update their plans annually. The plans must be made available to the public.

  93. Housing Choice Voucher

    HUD's major tenant-based rental assistance program, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers allow low-income households to receive rental assistance in a home of their choice. Housing Choice Voucher tenants pay 30% of their monthly income for rent and the federal government pays the landlord the remainder through a local housing authority. Payments to landlords are restricted by the area's Fair Market Rent (FMR). This is called the Housing Assistance Payment, or HAP.

  94. Housing Finance Agency (HFA)

    State or local agencies responsible for financing and preserving low- and moderate-income housing within a state. State HFAs are often the agency administering federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). HFAs also typically administer bond financing programs and affordable homeownership financing programs.

  95. Housing First

    Housing First programs offer rapid and permanent affordable housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Housing First programs do not mandate participation in supportive services - such as addiction counseling - but instead allow participants to voluntarily opt in. 

    Early research shows the Housing First model reduces returns to homelessness, decreases reliance on child welfare systems, increases enrollment in public assistance benefits, and ultimately costs less than traditional shelters or transitional housing approaches.

  96. Housing Market Area

    A geographic region from which it is likely that renters/purchasers would be drawn to a given housing project. A housing market area most often corresponds to a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

  97. Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)

    Provides housing assistance and supportive servides to low-income people with HIV/AIDS and their families. HOPWA funds may also be used for health care and mental health services, chemical dependency treatment, nutritional servicescase managment, assistance with daily living and other supportive services.

  98. Housing Quality Standards

    HUD guidelines used to determine if a unit meets the HUD definition of decent, safe and sanitary housing. Units eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher program must meet Housing Quality Standards.

  99. Housing Stock

    The number of existing housing units based on data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and referable to the same point or period in time. Housing stock is the total number of residential dwelling units in a market, both renter- and owner-occupied, at all price ranges.


  100. Inadequate Housing

    Housing with severe or moderate physical problems, as defined in the American Housing Survey (AHS) since 1984. A unit is defined as having severe physical problems if it has seere problems in any of five areas: plumbing, heating, electrical ysstem, upkeep and hallways. It has moderate problems if it has problems in plumbing, heating, iupkeep, hallways or kitchen, but no severe problems.

  101. Income-Based Rent

    Income-based rent is set so that an eligible household would pay no more than 30% of their adjusted income toward housing costs, including utilities, each month. Unlike units with flat rents, the amount a household contributes towards housing costs may fluctuate with changes to household income, size, or circumstances.

    Popular housing programs that offer income-based rents include Public Housing, Project-based Section 8, and Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.

  102. Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program

    Provides eligible grantees with direct grants for use in developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities. Eligible uses include decent housing, a suitable living environment and economic opportunities, primarily for low- and moderate-income persons.

  103. Indian Tribe

    Any Indian tribe, band, group and nation, including Alaska Indians, Aleuts and Eskimos, and any Alaskan Native Village, of the United States, which is considered an eligible recipient under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act or was considered an eligible recipient under chapter 67 of title 31 prior to the repeal of such chapter.

  104. Integrated Real Estate Management System (IREMS)

    HUD data source on HUD's Office of Multifamily Housing's portfolio of insured and assisted properties. IREMS is used in administering subsidies, monitoring performance and asset management.


  105. Judgment

    A legal decision. When requiring debt repayment a judgment may include a property lien that secures the creditor's claim by providing a collateral source.


  106. Land Bank

    A governmental or nongovernmental nonprofit entity established, at least in part, to assemble, temporarily manage and dispose of vacant land. The Land Bank's purpose is to stabilize neighborhoods and encourage re-use or redevelopment of urban property.

  107. Land Development

    The process of making, installing or constructing improvements. This may include grading, paving, or installing water, sewer and electrical services to prepare for construction. More broadly it also refers to construction of buildings or public works..

  108. Lead Based Paint

    Paint used to paint house interiors and exteriors which contain lead and is considered hazardous. Banned in the United States in 1978.

  109. Lease

    A written agreement betwen an owner and a household for the leasing of a decent, safe and sanitary dwelling unit to the household. The lease typically includes the amount of rent, downpayment requirements and length of lease term. It may also contain other conditions of use, such as occupancy limits, restricting pets or prohibiting smoking.

  110. Lease Term

    The period of time for which a lease agreement is written. Lease terms may be expressed as days, weeks, months or years. 

  111. Livability

    A measure of integration of the housing, transportation, environmental and employment amenities accessible to residents. A livable community is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options and provides supportive community features.

  112. Livable Community

    A livable community is one with multiple modes of transportation connecting residents with community resources. Different types of housing and destinations are located within an easy distance (20 minutes by transit, 15 minutes bike/foot, 10 minutes by car).

  113. Live-In Aide

    Person living with an elderly or disabled person to provide care. A live-in aide is not obligated to financially support the person and would not be living there, otherwise.

  114. Local Public Agency

    The official body empowered under State law to plan and undertake a local urban renewal program with Federal assistance. It may be a city, county or other governmental agency. It may also be a redevelopment agency or local housing authority.

  115. Loss Mitigation

    A process to avoid foreclosure. The lender tries to help a borrower who has been unable to make loan payments and is in danger of default on the loan.

  116. Low-Income Household

    A household whose combined income does not exceed 80% of the median family income for the area. This is the income eligibility threshold for most federal affordable housing programs.


  117. Mainstream Voucher

    Specialized vouchers providing rental assistance to low-income persons with disabilities (elderly and non-elderly). Aside from serving a special population, these vouchers are administered under the same rules as the Section 8- Housing Choice Voucher program.

  118. Mark-to-Market

    A program designed to preserve low-inccome rental housing affordability while reducing the long-term costs of federal rental assistance. The purpose of the program is to reduce rents to market levels by restructuring debt to levels supportable by these rents.

  119. Market Area

    The geographic are from which a project owner could reasonable expect to draw applicants.

  120. Market Value

    The most probable price that a property should bring in a competitive and open market. This is provided that all conditions requisite to a fair sale are present, the buyer and seller are knowledgeable and acting prudently, and the price is not affected by any undue stimulus.

  121. Metropolitan Area

    A large population center that is a combination of adjacent communities. There is a high degree of economic and social integration within that nucleus. 

  122. Metropolitan Planning Organization

    That organization designated by a state's governor to carry out transportation planning provisions within a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. They are required to represent localities in all urbanized areas with populations over 50,000.

  123. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

    An area with at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of socal and economic integration with the core. This integration is primarily measured by commuting ties.

  124. Microenterprise

    A commercial enterprise that has five or fewer employees, one or more of whom owns the enterprise. Typically started with a small amount of capital.  Many microenterprises specialize in providing goods and services for their local areas.

  125. Micropolitan Statistical Area

    An area with at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population, pluse adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core. This integration is measured by the strength of commuting ties.

  126. Minority Neighborhood

    A neighborhood in which the percentage of persons of a particular racial or ethnic minority is at least 20 points higher than that minority's percentage in the housing market as a whole. In the case of a metropolitan area, it can also mean the neighborhood's total percentage of minority persons exceeds 50 percent of its population.

  127. Minority-Owned Business

    A business in which more thqn 50% of the ownership or control is held by one or more minority individuals, and more than 50% of the net profit or loss accrues to one or more minority individuals.

  128. Moderate Income Household

    Households whose incomes are between 81% and 95% of the Area Median Income, as adjusted for household size. Some state and federal affordable housing programs can serve moderate-income households as well as those with low incomes.

  129. Moderate Rehabilitation Program (Mod-Rehab)

    The Mod-Rehab program provided project-based rental assistande for low-income households. It was repealed in 1991 with no new projects authorized for development.

  130. Mortgage-Backed Security (MBS)

    A Fannnie Mae security that represents an undividedd interest in a group of mortgages. Principal and interest payments from the individual mortgage loans are grouped and paid out to the security holders.

  131. Moving to Opportunity (MTO)

    A HUD demonstration designed to ensure a rigorous evaluation of the impacts of helping very low-income families with children move from public and assisted housing in high-poverty inner city neighborhoods to middle-class neighborhoods throughout a metropolitan area. The demonstration tested the idea that moving to areas with greater affluence, amenities and services would benefit low-income renters and provide greater opportunities for their children.

  132. Moving to Work (MTW)

    A demonstration program that provides selected public housing authorities flexibility to design and test innovative, locally designed strategies to improve program performance. MTW goals are to use federal funds more efficiently, help residents find employment and becomd self-sufficient, and increase housing choices for low-income households.

  133. Multifamily Assisted Housing Reform and Affordability Act 1997

    Authorized a Mark-to-Market program. The Mark-to-Market program is designed to preserve low-income rental housing affordability while reducing the long-term costs of federal rental assistance for certain multifamily properties.

  134. Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMI)

    The principal accounting fund used by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure mortgages. When a borrower defaults on a mortgage, the FHA covers the lender's loss with money from the MMI Fund.


  135. National Green Building Standard (NGBS)

    A consensus standard to rate the "green" qualities of single-family and multi-family buildings, both in their materials and construction. Relates to recycling, reuse, energy efficiency and environmental impact of materials and construction techniques.

  136. Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP)

    Provides emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties that might become sources of blight. Grants are used to rehabilitate, resell or redevelop properties in orger to stabilize neihborhoods and stem declining values of neighboring homes.

  137. Non-Elderly Disabled Vouchers (NED)

    Enables non-elderly disabled households to lease affordable private housing of their choice. Administered under the same rules that govern the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

  138. Nonprofit Housing Organization

    Any private organization that is organized under state or local laws, meeting the following conditions. It has no part of its net earnings inuring to the benefit of any member, founder, contributor or individual. It must also have a long-term record of serrvice in providing or financing quality affordable housig for low-income households, often through relationships with public entities.


  139. Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

    OMB assists the President in the preparation of the federal budget and supervises its administration within Executive Branch agencies. OMB evaluates the effectiveness of agency programs, policies and procedures, as well as assessing funding demands among agencies and setting funding priorities.

  140. Office of Native American Programs, HUD (ONAP)

    HUD's office that administers housing and community development programs that benefit American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, tribal members, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Native Hawaiians, and other Native American organizations. This office administers the Indian Housing Block Grants, Indian Community Development Block Grants and Tribal HUD-VASH program, among others.

  141. Office of Policy Development & Research, HUD (PD&R)

    HUD office that maintains current information on housing needs, market conditions and existing programs. It also conducts and oversees research on priority housing and community development issues.

  142. Office of University Partnerships, HUD (OUP)

    HUD office that facilitates campus-community partnerships. Partnership goals are to enable students, faculty and neighborhood organizations to revitalize local economies, generate jobs and rebuild healthy communities.

  143. Operating Fund Financing Program (OFFP)

    This program allows public housing authorities to borrow private capital to finance development and modernization of public housing. The funds borrowed can pay f[or new construction or rehabilitation and improvements. Common Improvements include roof replacement, new boilers, accessibility modifications and energy efficiency upgrades. Health and safety issues can also be addressed, such as dealing with lead paint and asbestos removal.

  144. Operating Subsidies

    Payments authorized by the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 for operating costs of low-rent public housing properties. Operating subsidies help public housing authorities pay for utilities, maintenance, security, accounting, reporting and similar operating costs.

  145. Overcrowding

    The condition of having an average of more than one person per room. Overcrowding is considered a serious housing problem. Overcrowding is not allowed in federally assisted housing.

  146. Oversubscribed

    Affordable housing and supportive programs are considered oversubscribed when the number of people who qualify for assistance exceeds the number of people able to be served under existing funding levels.

  147. Owner

    The person or entity having the legal right to lease or sublease dwelling units. The owner can be either a private person or entity (including a cooperative), or an agency of the federal government (including a Public Housing Agency).


  148. Paired Testing

    Paired testing is when two individuals with similar backgrounds - one white, one minority - pose as prospective renters or homebuyers. They both inquire about the availability and terms of a property advertised for rent or sale, or for home mortgage loans. Paired testing can reveal statistically significant patterns of unequal treatment.

  149. Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH)

    This HUD initiative is dedicated to speeding the development and use of technologies that improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance and affordability of America's housing. It involves leaders in homebuilding, product manufacturing, insurance and financial industries, as well as federal agencies that have an interest in housing.

  150. Partnership for Sustainable Communities

    Coordination of activities and funding by HUD, the Dept. of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to promote livable communities. Principles are to promote equitable, affordable housiing; enhance economic competitiveness, support existing communities; coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment; and value communities and neighborhoods.

  151. Payment Standards

    Maximum monthly assistance payment for a family assisted by the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

    Payment standards are set by Public Housing Agencies based on the local housing market. In most cases, HUD requires payment standards to be set at no less than 90% and no greater than 110% of the area Fair Market Rent.

  152. Percentile Rent Estimates (50th)

    50th percentile rent estimates are cacluated for all FMR areas. These are not Fair Market Rents. Under certain conditions, these 50th percentile rents can be used to set success rate payment standards.

  153. Point-in-Time Counts

    Unduplicated one-night estimate of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. The one-night counts are conducted by Continuum of Care networks nationwide during the last week in January of each year.

  154. Poor

    Household income of less than the U.S. national poverty cutoff for that household size. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updates poverty guidelines annually, adjusted for household size.

  155. Poor Quality Index (PQI)

    Measures the level of physical deficiencies in American Housing Survey (AHS) sample housing units. It provides a measure of housing quality that can be compared between places or over time.

  156. Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA)

    An area that qualifies as a metropolitan statistical area has a cwnsus population of 1 million or more. Two or more PMSAs may be designated within it if they meet published official standards and local opinion favors the desigantion.

  157. Prohibited Bases

    Civil rights statutes establish the demographic categories by which discrimination is prohibited. Under the Fair Housing Act, the prohibited bases are race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability.

  158. Project Based Housing Assistance

    When government housing assistance is tied to the unit, not the tenant. When a tenant moves out, they do not take the rental assistance with them. New tenants moving into the unit will benefit from the rental assistance attached to the property.

  159. Project Based Section 8

    Federally funded rental assistance program that guarantees rental payments to private landlords who rent to low-income households. 

    With Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), tenants pay 30% of monthly income for rent, with HUD paying the owner the remainder up to the area's Fair Market Rent (FMR).

    Unlike the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, the assistance is tied to the unit. Households only benefit from the assistance during their tenancy.

  160. Project-Based

    Project-based housing assistance, as opposed to Tenant-based, is a broad category of affordable housing programs where the rental subsidy is tied to the apartment community or the individual unit. When a tenant moves out of a Project-based assistance unit, the tenant will no longer benefit from the unit's subsidy.

  161. Project-Based Vouchers (PBV)

    A component of a public housing authority's housing (PHA) Section 8- Housing Choice Voucher program. A PHA can attach up to 20% of its voucher assistance to specific housing units if the owner agrees to either rehabilitate or construct the units, or the owner agrees to set aside a portion of the units in an existing development.

  162. Protected Class

    Demogaphic categories of persons established by civil rights statutes against whom discrimination is prohibited. The protected classes under the Fair Housing Act are race, col[or, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability.

  163. Public Housing

    Housing assisted under the provisions of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 or under a state or local program having the same general purposes as the federal program. Distinguished from privately financed housing, regardless of whether federal housing subsidies or mortgage insurance are features of such housing development.

  164. Public Housing Agency (PHA)

    Any state, county, municipality or other governmental entity or public body, or agency or instrumentality of these entities that is authorized to engage or assist in the development or operation of low-income housing under the U.S. Housing Act of 1937. PHAs generally own and manage public housing properties, and administer Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher programs. They may also own other types of affordable housing and administer other programs that help their residents, such as the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program.

  165. Public Housing Management Assessment Program (PHMAP)

    Evaluates the performance of public housing agencies in major areas of management operations. Poor scores can lead to interventions from HUD.

  166. Public Indian Housing Information Center (PIC)

    Website developed and maintained by HUD. It is used by Public Housing Authorities and Tribal Housing Authorities to report data about all HUD housing programs.

  167. Public Use Areas

    Interior or exterior rooms or spaces of a building that are made available to the general public. Public use may be provided at a building that is privately or publicly owned. These areas are typically common rooms, meeting rooms, dining rooms or garden and play areas.

  168. Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS)

    Statistical samples of tenant-level data from HUD's Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, Project-Based Section 8 and Section 202/811 programs. Available to public researchers, the data provide a snapshot of the characteristics of households living in HUD-assisted housing.


  169. Qualified Census Tract (QCT)

    Any census tract (or equivalent geographic area defined by the Census Bureau) in which at least 50% of households have an income less than 60% of the area median gross income. In addition, it may also be a Qualified Census Tract if It has a poverty rate of at least 25%. 

  170. Qualified Mortgagee (HUD, FHA)

    An entity approved by HUD that is capable of originating and servicing FHA-insured mortgages. These are the lending institutions that make FHA loans and collect mortgage payments on them.


  171. Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC)

    Provides and promotes accurate information assessing the condition of HUD's portfolio. It compiles and ranks information on the physical and financial condition of HUD-assisted housing, including scores for building inspections.

  172. Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

    A law protecting consumers from abuses during the residential real estate purchase and loan process. It requires lenders to disclose all settlement costs, practices and relationships.

  173. Reasonable Accommodation

    Change to a policy, within reason, to allow a person with a disability to participate fully in a HUD housing program. Reasonable accommodation can range from services to assist blind applicants applying for assistance, to reasonable modifications in apartments to accommodate people with mobility impairments.

  174. Reasonable Modification

    Under the Fair Housing Act, reasonable modification is a structural change made to existng premises, to be occupied by a person with a disability. The modifications are made in order to afford such person full enjoyent of the premises.

  175. Redlining

    Discrimination based on location is often referred to as redlining. Historically, some lending institutions were found to have maps with red lines delineating neighborhoods where they would not do business.

  176. Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse (RBC, HUD)

    The RBC is hosted by HUD User. It collects and disseminates information on the regulatory barriers faced in the creation and maintenance of affordable housing.

  177. Rehabilitation

    The labor, materials, tools and other costs of improving buildings, other than minor or routine repairs. Includes when the use of a building is changed to an emergency shelter and the cost of this change and any rehabiliation costs does not exceed 75 percent of the value of the building before the change in use.

  178. Renovation

    Rehabilitation that involves costs of 75 percent or less of the value of the building before rehabilitation. Examples of renovation projects include jobs like kitchen or bathroom remodels, upgrading windows or adding a deck.

  179. Rent Reasonableness

    A standard set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban and Development (HUD) to ensure that rental assistance payments made by housing agencies are reasonable in relation to comparable nearby units.

  180. Request for Tenancy Approval

    A formal request from a tenant for a Public Housing Agency to inspect and approve of a rental unit for the purposes of Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance.


  181. Section 8

    A federally funded rental assistance program that pays private landlords the difference between what a low-income household can contribute and the fair market rent.

    Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) provide rental assistance for households to use renting in the private market. Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) is attached to a specific home or apartment community. In both programs, the tenant pays 30% of monthly income for rent with HUD paying the owner the remainder, up to the area's Fair Market Rent (FMR).

  182. Section 8 Administrative Plan

    A document created by a Public Housing Authority which contains policy and procedures regarding the federal requirements of program operation. The plan spells out application procedures, waitlist policies, federal requirements and other information guiding the PHA's administration of its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.


  183. Tenant Based Section 8

    HUD funded rental assistance for low income households administered by a Public Housing Authority (PHA) which also offers a portability feature. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program allows households to rent from private landlords. The tenant pays 3% of monthly income for rent, and the PHA pay0s the landlord the remainder, up to the area's Fair Market Rent (FMR). The units must meet HUD's Housing Quality Standards (HQS).

  184. Tenant-Based

    Tenant-based housing assistance, as opposed to Project-based, is a broad category of affordable housing programs where the rental subsidy is tied to the tenant. Households receiving the benefits of a Tenant-based housing assistance program may be able to keep the benefits when moving.

  185. Total Tenant Payment

    Household's portion of the monthly rent determined by the Housing Authority for the Section 8 program. It is determined using income, payment standard, utilities and requested rent.

  186. Transitional Housing

    Transitional Housing is temporary housing for homeless individuals and families in anticipation of entry into permanent affordable housing. Transitional Housing is typically an apartment or a room in a shared residence that is combined with or close to supportive services.


  187. Unit

    A housing/dwelling unit is a house, apartment, group of rooms or single room that is either occupied, or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. The specific definition of a unit differ between various affordable housing programs.

  188. Utility Allowance

    An amount used by a Public Housing Authority (PHA) to determine average utility bills for a specific area. It is used to calculate the tenant's portion of the monthly rent.

  189. Utiltiy Reimbursement

    A monthly payment in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program intended to reimburse the cost of utilities. It is generally only available to HCV households with little or no income.


  190. Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH)

    Program administered by the Veterans Administration, HUD and local area Public Housing Authorities (PHA). It provides housing vouchers and VA supportive services, for homeless veterans.

  191. Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally passed in 1994. It is a federal law intended to protect women and men from domestic violence, assault and stalking.

  192. Voucher Portability

    Feature of Tenant Based Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program that allows households to use their rental subsidy to lease a unit outside of the original Housing Authority's jurisdiction. This allows households to move to other cities, counties or states and take their rental assistance with them.

  193. Waiting List

    An ordered list of households who have applied for housing assistance through a Housing Authority or private landlord. Waiting lists are used when affordable housing demand exceeds the supply of available assistance.


  194. Waiting List Preferences

    Point system designed to give preference placement for families with specific housing needs. Common preferences include serving local residents, elderly persons, disabled persons, veterans or persons experiencing homelessness.