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Housing Information Glossary

Published: July 11, 2012


Affordable Housing - a common standard among government subsidy programs in which a housing occupant is paying no more than 30% of their gross income for housing costs, including utilities.

Application fee - A fee paid to landlords and rental property owners for processing rental applications.

Assisted Housing - HUD gives grants to private and public housing organizations to finance the cost of building or buying public housing. Residents must qualify as "low-income families", which are those with incomes no higher than 80% of median income for that area.


Breach of Lease - When a tenant breaks a rule or otherwise violates a rental agreement. For example, having a dog when a lease says no pets are allowed.


Credit History - a summary of an individual’s record of paying bills and buying things by making payments over time.

Credit rating - A rating or evaluation made by a person or company (such as a credit bureau) based on one’s present income, financial obligations, and past credit history.

Credit Report - A report usually ordered by a lender from a credit bureau to help determine a person’s credit rating.

CDBG – Community Development Block Grant - A Federal program which provides annual grants to state and local governments for use in a wide range of community development activities including housing, economic development, and public facilities. It is a flexible, locally-based program. . Communities over 50,000 people are entitled to receive funding directly, while other communities may apply for funding through the State-admnistered CDBG Small Cities program. To find out more, contact your local housing and community development department

CHDO – Community Housing Development Organization - A non-profit organization which, at a minimum, develops low-income housing. At least 1/3 of its board must be low-income or live in a low-income census tract. These organizations are eligible for special federal (HOME) funding for housing development and operating costs.

CRA – Community Reinvestment Act - A 1977 law that requires banks and savings and loan institutions to take affirmative steps to help meet the credit needs of the entire community, especially low-and moderate-income communities. Provides incentive for banks to participate in housing and development projects for low-income tenants.

Consolidated Plan - Before receiving HOME funds, a jurisdiction must submit for HUD approval a Consolidated Plan. The Consolidated Plan describes housing needs and the State or local government’s strategic plan to address those needs, including what activities will be funded. This is a good place to start in researching your community’s housing priorities.


Deposit - Money given as security for the performance of a contract or lease, which may be partially or totally forfeited if the depositor fails to comply with the lease or contract.

Delinquency - the failure to make a payment on an obligation when it is due


Empowerment Zones (EZs and Enterprise Communities (ECs) - Specific geographic areas designated by the Secretaries of HUD and Agriculture that allow for direct CDBG funds to flow into the designed area. State and local governments must submit a strategic plan detailing what activities they intend to undertake in that area. Contact your local community development department to find EZs and ECs in your area. NOTE: Special employer tax incentives are available when they hire persons who have been on welfare long-term and (1) work in an EZ or EC or (2) live in an EZ or EC.

Entitlement Community - An urban county or metropolitan city eligible to receive a community development block grant directly from HUD. The amount is determined by formula.

Eviction - a court proceeding to remove a tenant from or otherwise legally and physically recover possession of a rental unit.


Fair Market Rent - Fair Market Rents (FMRs) determine the eligibility of rental housing units for the Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments program. FMRs serve as the payment standard used to calculate subsidies under the Rental Voucher program. The level at which FMRs are set is expressed as a percentile point within the rent distribution of standard-quality rental housing units. For most areas, the current definition used is the 40th percentile rent, the dollar amount below which 40 percent of the standard-quality rental housing units are rented. In high-cost areas, the FMR is set at the 50th percentile rent.
FHA – Federal Housing Administration - a federal agency designed to encourage private housing financing for low-income families or individuals through the provision of mortgage insurance.

Fannie Mae, or FNMA – Federal National Mortgage Association - Fannie Mae purchases loans from private lenders on the secondary market and designs underwriting criteria used by financial istitutions to make loans to low and moderate income people. Fannie Mae has established some very creative low down paymement alnd low interest programs that are particularly beneficial to New Americans in purchasing their first homes. The Fannie Mae Foundation distributes free pamphlets on Home Ownership and Home Mortgages in several languages.


HOME – Home Investment Partnership Program - A federal program designed to expand the supply of affordable housing for low-and very low-income people. HOME money is allocated by formula to ic and private housing organizations may then apply fro funding to develop specific projects and housing programs. Community funding priorities are generally determined in the community's Consolidated Plan.
HOPE – Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere - A federal program intended to provide homeownership opportunities for low to moderate income families through the purchase of properties owned by governmental entities. NOTE: HOPE VI is a program for revitalization of severely distressed public housing. Some refugee programs have been able to work with local authorities to use such housing on a short-term basis.

HAP – Housing Assistance Plan - Part of the CDBG application describing local housing conditions and goals for providing housing to low and moderate income residents.

Housing Development Corporation - A private corporation that provides and supports multi-family housing in a specific geographical area.

HFA – Housing Finance Agency (Authority) - A state agency which is responsible for the financing of housing and the administration of subsidized housing programs. Find your HFA by going to http://www.ncsha.org


Income Limits - Family income limits established by law for admission into low and moderate-income housing projects or to qualify for rent supplement assistance. Based on family size and geographic location.

IDA – Individual Development Account - A federally or privately funded savings incentive program in which participants’ savings are matched by the funding entity up to certain limits. Typically the programs allow the savings to be used to purchase housing, for education, or purchase of other large items such as cars.


Landlord - an owner or agent directly or indirectly in control of rental property.

Late Charge - An additional charge that is required to pay as as penalty for failure to pay a regular installment on time.

Lease - A written agreement for the use of a rental property.

LIHTC – Low Income Housing tax Credit - A federal tax credit given to investors as an incentive to development multi-family rental housing at rent levels which are affordable to low-and very low-income households. This is one of the major housing finance programs available to construct and acquire multi-family housing. The program is administered by state housing finance agencies.

"Low Income/Very Low Income" - Definition - based on family income as a percentage of the median income for the area. There are different percentages for different programs. HUD defines Low Income as any household earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income.


"Moderate Income" - Moderate-Income is defined by HUD as households earning between 50% and 80% of the Area Median Income.


NOFA – Notice of Funding Availability - A notice by HUD area offices to inform potential project sponsors that funds are available for housing projects and programs. See SuperNOFA below.


Order to vacate - A notice or sign posted by a government agency on a property that orders the tenant to move out by a specified date.


PJ’s – Participating Jurisdictions - A Unit of local or state government authorized to receive and administer HOME funds directly from HUD.

Public Housing - Housing owned and operated by a public housing agency which can be rented by low-income people.

Public Housing Authority - A government agency, generally affiliated with a local government whose responsibility is the ownership and operation of subsidized housing and rental assistance programs.


Rent - The money ($$) received from a lessee for the use of an apartment or other dwelling unit.

Renter - An individual or household that rents the housing unit it occupies.

Rent Assistance - a government or private financial payment such as the Tenant-based Section 8 (Housing Choice) program that helps those who qualify to pay their housing expenses.

Redlining - The practice by lending institutions of restricting or denying mortgage loans (or other types of credit) in certain areas. The CRA (see above) was enacted to eliminate redlining.

Resident Manager - An individual who supervises the care of an apartment property while living in one of the apartment units


Section 8 - A federal rental assistance program for low- and very-low income households typically administered by public housing authorities. Under this program, HUD pays the landlord the difference between 30% of the family’s adjusted gross income and the HUD approved or fair market rent for that area. [ check ] There are two types of Section 8 subsidies:

Vouchers - A family is approved, and select from the open market a property inspected and approved as meeting basic habitability requirements. If the family chooses a unit that rents for more than the FMR, the family makes up the difference between the FMR and the rent charged in addition to their 30% of income rent contribution.

Project-based - Some or all of the units in a housing development are approved for Section 8 subsidies. Occupants of those units must meet the income requirements. Property owners receive rental assistance payments for specific units designated for households qualifying for Section 8 assistance.

Subsidized Second Mortgage - An alternative homeownership financing option for low-and moderate-income households under which funds for a second mortgage are provided by government or nonprofits. Payment on the second mortgage is often deferred, carries no or low interest rates, and part of the debt may be forgiven for each year the family remains in the home. This is sometimes referred to as a "soft second" mortgage.

Super NOFA - Annual announcements by HUD of multiple funding funding opportunities though HUD to private grantees in large multiple-program notices of funding availability. One Super NOFA covers the Stewart McKinney Homeless Act programs which may be used to assist refugees.


Tax Credit - A dollar-for dollar reduction of the amount of tax owed. Tax credits are much more desirable than tax deductions, which only reduce taxable income.

Tenant-Paid Utilities - Basic services to an apartment, such as gas, electric service, garbage service, and phone service that are paid directly by the tenant

Term - the period that a lease is in effect. It specifies a start date and end date. Most leases are for a period of six months or one year, however, the term may vary.

Termination - ending of a lease caused by giving proper notice or the tenant breaking the terms of the lease.


Utility allowance - a deduction from the tenant’s rent to assist in paying his/her utilities that is used in conjunction with a certain subsidized housing program. The allowance is an average utility cost by unit size which is set by the administering agency, usually a public housing authority.

Last Reviewed: November 8, 2016