• Glossary
This glossary contains definitions for terms that are commonly used in the affordable housing industry.   

For a more expansive listing of housing terms, visit: 

The use of CDBG funds to acquire real property, in whole or in part, by purchase, long-term lease, donation, or otherwise, for any public purpose.  Real property to be acquired may include: land, air rights, easements, water rights, right-of-ways, buildings and other property improvements, or other interests in real property.  Clearance, demolition, and removal of buildings and improvements including movement of structures to other sites. This activity is eligible pursuant to 24 CFR, Section 570.201 and will benefit low and moderate income families and individuals.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services.


Area Median Income (AMI)
The estimated median income, adjusted for family size, by metropolitan area (or county in nonmetropolitan areas) that is adjusted by HUD annually and used as the basis of eligibility for most housing assistance programs.


Assisted Housing
Federal, state or local programs that subsidize monthly housing costs for tenants.  


This program is designed to remove barriers, improve accessibility to the elderly (62 years of age or older) and disabled persons, and to provide for health and safety repairs as needed by older and disabled persons to maintain their independence. Health and safety repairs may include repairs unrelated to accessibility and barrier removal. This activity is eligible pursuant to 24 CFR, Section 570.614 and will benefit low and moderate income families and individuals.


Cost Burden
Spending more than 30 percent of household income on housing costs.


Elderly/Senior Housing
Residential developments restricted to tenants age 62 or older, or 80 percent of the building is occupied by at least one person 55 or older.


Entitlement Municipality
A city or urban community with a population of 50,000 or more which, because of its size, receives Community Development Block Grant funds directly from the federal government.


Extremely Low Income (ELI)
Households with incomes at or below 30 percent Area Median Income.


Fair Housing Act
Federal legislation, first enacted in 1968, that provides the Secretary of HUD with investigation and enforcement responsibilities for fair housing practices. It prohibits discrimination in housing and lending based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or familial status.


Fair Market Rent (FMR)
An amount determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be the monthly cost of modest, non-luxury rental units in a specific market area, plus the cost of utilities, excluding telephone service.  FMR Chart


Foreclosure Prevention/Counseling
This program is designed to provide foreclosure prevention assistance to homeowners through comprehensive case management, counseling & education, and lender mediation.


HOME Program
Largest federal block grant program for affordable housing. It provides funding to State and local governments for rental and homebuyer housing development, homebuyer (down payment) assistance, homeowner rehabilitation assistance and tenant-based rental assistance. More... 
Hope VI Program
This program was developed as a result of recommendations by National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which was charged with proposing a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing with a special focus on revitalization of three areas:  physical improvements, management improvements, and social and community services to address resident needs. 
Housing Choice Voucher (formerly known as Section 8)
Refers to the major federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program – actually a collection of programs – providing rental assistance to low-income households to help them pay for housing. Participating tenants pay 30% of their income (some pay more) for housing (rent and basic utilities) and the federal subsidy pays the balance of the rent. More...  

Inclusionary zoning
A zoning ordinance that requires a developer to include affordable housing as part of a development or contribute to a fund for such housing.


Infill Development
The practice of building on vacant or undeveloped parcels in dense areas, especially urban and inner suburban neighborhoods. Promotes compact development, which in turn allows undeveloped land to remain open and green.


Low Income (LI)
Households with incomes between 50 and 80 percent Area Median Income.


Not Low Income
Households with incomes greater than 80 percent Area Median Income.


Program Administration
CDBG funds may be used for the general administration costs incurred by a Sub-recipient to administer their CDBG program.  Administration costs directly associated with a CDBG activity should be part of the activity as program administration.


Purchase/Down-Payment Assistance
Homeownership assistance activities may include financial assistance for down-payments, closing costs or other part of the purchase process and counseling for pre-purchase, post-purchase or foreclosure prevention.


New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program
Established by Congress in 2000 to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The NMTC Program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their Federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs).  More... 


Residential Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation related activities may include single-family rehabilitation, multi-family rehabilitation, energy efficiency improvements, and public housing modernization.


Severe Cost Burden
Spending more than 50 percent of income on housing costs.


Smart Growth
The term used to refer to a rapidly growing and widespread movement that calls for a more coordinated,
environmentally sensitive approach to planning and development. A response to the problems associated with unplanned, unlimited suburban development – or sprawl – smart growth principles call for more efficient land use, compact development patterns, less dependence on the automobile, a range of housing opportunities and choices, and improved jobs/housing balance.


Very Low Income (VLI)
Households with incomes between 30 and 50 percent Area Median Income.


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The primary federal agency for regulating housing, including fair housing and housing finance. It is also the major federal funding source for affordable housing programs.


*HUD:  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


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