Glossary of Housing Terms:

Annual Contribution Contract (ACC) – The written contract between the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and a local housing authority under which HUD agrees to provide funding for a local housing authority program , and the local housing authority agrees to comply with HUD requirements for the program.

Board of Commissioners of a Housing Authority – The governing body of a local housing authority consisting of  appointed citizens who serve as the directors and policy makers of a local public housing agency for a specified term, usually without financial compensation.

Capital Fund Program (Comprehensive Modernization Program for Public Housing) – A modernization program for  public housing developments, providing for all needed physical and management improvements.

Citizen – A citizen or national of the United States of America.

Congressional Appropriation – The amount of federal funds that can actually be spent for a given program, as established by congressional statute. Distinguished from congressional authorization.

Congressional Authorization – The amount of federal funds that may be appropriated for a given program, as established by congressional statute. Distinguished from congressional appropriation.

Cooperation Agreement (Public Housing) – Contract between a local housing authority and the governing body of the municipality where a public housing development is located, providing for the governing body to furnish municipal services and facilities to the authority and for the authority, in turn, to make stipulated payments in lieu of taxes to the municipality.

Cost-Plus Contract – A contract providing that the contractor’s profit is fixed at a specific percentage of the actual cost of labor and materials.

Davis-Bacon Act – An act passed in 1931, and subsequently amended, requiring that all laborers and mechanics employed in certain programs of federal financial assistance involving construction activities be paid wage rates no less than those prevailing on similar construction in the locality, as determined by the Secretary of Labor.

Defensible Space – Residential environment whose physical characteristics, building layout, and site plan function to allow inhabitants to become the key agents in ensuring their own security. A defensible housing complex has the appearance of being composed of small, defined areas controlled by specific groups of residents.)

Design Program (public housing) – Guidelines provided by a local housing authority to architects, requiring, at minimum, plans and specifications that adhere to local zoning and building requirements and HUD minimum property standards. The program usually sets forth the type of refuse disposal, heating system, security features, materials required, and amenities desired.

Design Standards – Standards governing the size, shape, and relationship of spaces in a building or area.

Development – Any or all undertakings necessary for planning, land acquisition, demolition, construction, or equipment of a development.

Development Costs (Public Housing) – The costs incurred by a local housing authority or agency for a development and its necessary financing (including the cost of carrying charges, but not beyond the point of physical completion).

Direct Cost – Out-of-pocket expenditures made in conjunction with a project, e.g. for labor, materials, land, fees as distinguished from overhead, administration, profit, etc.

Displaced by Governmental Action (HUD) -An individual or family moved or to be moved from real property occupied as a dwelling unit as a result of activities in connection with a public improvement or development program carried on by an agency of the United States or any state or local government body or agency.

 Drawdown – The withdrawal of funds from an account established for a specific purpose (e.g., drawing funds against a letter of credit, a federal grant, or an escrow account).

Elderly Person – A person who is at least 62 years of age.

Enabling Legislation – Legislation authorizing governmental or other entities to carry out an activity, as under the provisions of a federal program.

Energy and Utility Conservation – Any plan or collection of mechanical devices that helps heating, cooling, and electrical systems produce more efficiently and/or ensures they are used with maximum efficiency.

Equal Housing Opportunity – Principle enforced by law holding that all citizens of the United States have the same right to inherit, purchase, sell, hold, and convey property.

Escrow– 1) A deed, bond, money, or real property delivered to a third party to be delivered by him/her to the obliged upon fulfillment of a condition. In the case of land or other  real property, the deed becomes effective when the buyer fulfills certain conditions.2) Under Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS), an amount set aside on behalf of the tenant specified in the FSS contract of participation, equal to a portion of the rent increase that would otherwise occur as one or more family members obtain employment as a result of the FSS program.

Extraordinary Maintenance – Work that is not recurrent, is substantial in scope, and is performed in connection with specific work programs. Whether performed by the owner or regularly employed staff, specific labor force, or under contract, the expenditure involved would otherwise materially distort the level trend of ordinary maintenance expense.

Extremely Low-Income Families – Those families who incomes do not exceed 30% of median family income for the area in which they reside, with adjustments made for smaller and larger families.

Fair Housing Laws – Federal, state, or local laws prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing, for any reasons.

“Fair Share Housing” – The planned allocation of subsidized housing units to every community within a metropolitan area.

Federal Housing Authority – Federal agency established in 1934 that was replaced by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

Financially Distressed PHA (Public Housing) – A local housing authority that has an operating reserve level of 20% or less of its authorized maximum or other level as determined by HUD, as shown on the latest year-end financial statement.

Forward Funding (Public Housing) – Procedures authorized in the Housing Act of 1970 providing that HUD pay a local Housing Authority the amount of subsidy obligated in the HUD-approved operating budget of the Authority at intervals throughout the Authority’s fiscal year.

Grant – A payment of cash, as distinguished from a loan.

Grantsmanship – The ability to obtain grants, subsidies, or other financial assistance.

Grievance (Public Housing) – A tenant’s right to seek a hearing from an objective person or panel concerning any public housing authority action or failure to act involving the tenant’s base rent or housing authority regulations that adversely affect the individual tenant’s rights, duties, welfare, or status.

Guide– HUD statements used to provide pertinent program participants with material of an advisory nature; generally, guides supplement or augment handbook issuances.

Guideline – A statement suggesting how a given policy or regulation might be implemented.

Handbook(HUD) – Statements issued by HUD concerning specific categorical programs and promulgating permanent policies, procedures, and instructions that must be followed by administering agencies.

Handicapped Person (Now referred to as Disabled) – A person found to have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to be of continuous and indefinite duration, substantially impeding his/her ability to live independently, and that is of such a nature that this ability could be improved by more suitable housing conditions.

Housing – Defined by the Douglas Commission as “both a product and a process.” The process is obvious. The product “includes all of the immediate physical environment, both within and outside of buildings in which families and households live, grow, and decline. It is largely man-made. Its primary functions are three: To provide (1) comfortable shelter; (2) a proper setting, both within the structure and in its neighborhood, for the day-to-day activities of families and households, of small informal groups of children and adults, and of the individuals who make them up; and (3) the focus and location of families and other groups within the larger physical pattern of the family.”

Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) – Subsidy payments made to the owner of Section 8-leased housing units by local housing authorities on behalf of tenants. The HAP plus the rent collected from the tenant equals the total fair market rent for the unit.

Housing Assistance Plan – Local ordinances and regulations that specify minimum standards required for dwelling units in a jurisdiction as fit for human habitation dealing with both construction standards and maintenance requirements.

Housing Voucher Program – A subsidy payment made directly to a beneficiary of an assisted housing program.

HUD Audit – An audit of the books, records, or performance of contractors or grantees and others doing business with HUD.

Leased Housing (Public Housing) – Housing leased by local housing authorities from private owners for low-income families who receive a subsidized rent through the housing authority.

Low-Income Families – Those families whose incomes do not exceed 80% of the median income for the area, as determined by the HUD Secretary with adjustments for  smaller and larger families, except that the Secretary may establish income ceilings higher or lower than 80% of the median for the area on the basis of the Secretary’s findings that such variations are necessary because of prevailing levels of construction costs or unusually high or low family incomes in the area.

Low-Income Housing – Housing units that, by reason of rental levels or amount of other charges, are available to families or individuals whose incomes do not exceed the maximum income limits established for continued occupancy in federally assisted low-rent public housing.

Low-Income Housing Development – Any low-income housing developed, acquired, or assisted by a public housing agency.  The improvement of any such housing.

Low-Rent 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.

Modernization (Public Housing) – Process of upgrading public housing developments when the local housing authority and HUD deem that the physical condition, location, and outmoded management policies in specific developments “adversely affect the quality of living of the tenants.” To obtain HUD Modernization funds, the housing authority must, in addition to submitting plans for modernization and rehabilitation of buildings and grounds, involve tenants in such planning, in changing management policies and practices, and in expanding services and facilities available to tenants. Modernization programs involve the sale of housing authority bonds and an adjustment in the Annual Contributions Contract.

Non-Citizen – A person who is neither a citizen or national of the United States of America.

Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) – The notice published by HUD announcing available contract authority for an allocation of funds for housing-related programs and the application process for obtaining such funds.

Occupancy Standards – The standards that a housing authority establishes for determining the appropriate number of bedrooms needed to house families of different sizes or composition.

Operating Expenses (HUD) – The amounts necessary to meet the normal costs of, and to provide for, operating and maintaining a development and to establish and maintain reasonable and proper reserves for repairs, maintenance, replacements, and other necessary reserves during an operating year; includes mortgage insurance, taxes, premium charges, and similar expenses.

Operating Procedures Manual – A book that outlines in detail as well as gives step by step policies and procedures for completing specific required tasks and functions.

Operating Subsidy – Subsidy paid by the federal government to a local housing authority to compensate for the limitation on rent of 30% of a tenant’s adjusted monthly income; a result of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970. The operating subsidy funds-the amount of the deficit between rents and expenses up to the difference between the annual contributions paid the authority by the federal government.

Personnel Policies – Basic rules established to ensure that an organization functions in accordance with established objectives. These rules may provide a standard for action to be taken, or they may restrain an organization from undesirable activity.

Persons With Disabilities –  A person who:

  1. Has a disability as defined in Section 223 of the Social Security Act, which states as follows: “Inability to engage in any substantial, gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months; or in the case of an individual who attained the age of 55 and is blind and unable by reason of such blindness to engage in substantial, gainful activity requiring skills or ability comparable to those of any gainful activity in which he/she previously engaged with some regularity and over a substantial period of time.”
  2. Is determined, pursuant to regulations issued by the HUD Secretary, to have a physical or mental or emotional impairment that: a) Is expected to be of long-continued and indefinite duration; b) substantially impedes his or her ability to live independently; and c) is of such a nature that such ability could be improved by more suitable housing conditions; or
  3. Has a developmental disability as defined in Section 102 (7) of the Development Disabilities and Bill of Rights Act which states as follows: “Severe chronic disability that: a) Is attributed to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairment; b) is manifested before the person attains age 22; c) is likely to continue indefinitely; d) results in substantial functional limitation in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: self care, receptive and responsive language, learning, mobility, self direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficient; and e) reflects the person’s need for a combination  and sequence of special interdisciplinary or genetic care, treatment, or other services that are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.”

This definition does not exclude persons who have the disease of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

No individual shall be considered to be a person with disabilities for purposes of assisted housing eligibility solely based on any drug or alcohol independence.

Preventive Maintenance – The maintenance action taken, on the basis of regular methodical inspections, to avoid or minimize costly measures at some future time.

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 subsidies or mortgage insurance are features of such housing development.

Public Housing Agency (PHA) – Any state, county, municipality, or other governmental entity or public body authorized under state enabling legislation to engage in the development or administration of low-rent public housing.

Public Housing Operating Funds – All of a local housing authority’s development revenues (dwelling rentals, interest income received during the operation of a public housing development, etc.) operating reserves, and HUD operating subsidies as shown on the local housing authority’s operating budget approved by HUD.

Public Relations – Activities and information that engage community support or knowledge about a particular program or event. Also includes the development and maintenance of attitudes and understanding toward the objectives of an organization.

Related Facilities (HUD) – New structures suitable for use by elderly or handicapped families, such as cafeterias or dining halls, community rooms or buildings, workshops, infirmaries or other inpatient or outpatient health facilities, and other essential service facilities and structures suitable for such uses provided by rehabilitation, alteration, conversion, or improvement of existing structures that are otherwise inadequate for such uses.

Replacement Reserves – Funds set aside through accounting procedures to ensure that funds are available to replace installed items in a development, including items such as ranges, refrigerators, water heaters, air conditioners, floor tiles, and bathroom tiles.

Reserves – An amount allocated from income for use if needed, such as an operating reserve, a replacement reserve, or a depreciation reserve.

Section  8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Program – Originally known as Section 23 Leased Housing when it was established by the Housing Act of 1965. Section 8 was established in the Housing and Community Act of 1974 Title II, Assisted Housing.

Section 23 Leased Housing – Program established by the Housing Act of 1965 enabling local housing authorities to provide public housing by leasing existing private housing from private owners for occupancy by public housing tenants. Federal legislation passed in 1970 expanded Section 23 permitting housing authorities to lease newly constructed housing as well as existing structures. The maximum term of a lease for existing housing is 15 years; for new housing, a term is 20 years.  Public housing tenants in leased housing pay the same rent that would be paid for authority-owned housing; the difference is made up by the authority with federal contributions and special subsidies, called Housing Assistance Payments.

Section 213 Limit – Amendment to the Housing Act of 1937 in the Housing Act of 1969 provides that the rent of a public housing tenant may not exceed 25% of the family’s adjusted income (also known as “Brooke Amendment”). Amended in 1981 to be 30% of monthly adjusted income, or 10% of monthly annual income, or the welfare rent in “As-paid” states, whichever is greatest.

Substandard Housing – A dwelling unit that is either dilapidated or unsafe, thus endangering the health and safety of the occupant, or that does not have adequate plumbing or heating facilities.

Tenant Commissioner – A public housing tenant who serves as a member of the Board of Commissioners of a local housing authority.

Tenant Grievance – Any dispute that a public housing tenant may have with a housing authority’s action or failure to act in accordance with the individual tenant’s lease or the public housing authority’s regulations that adversely affect the tenant’s rights, duties, welfare, or status.

Transient Housing (HUD) – Housing units intended for occupancy for periods of less than 30 days or housing where the occupants are provided customary hotel services such as room service for food and beverages, maid service, furnishing and laundering of linen, and bell person service.

Vendor Payments – Payments made directly to the person or organization providing a product or service.

Very Low Income-Families – As defined in the 1983 amendments to the U.S. Housing Act of 1937: Families whose income for a given area, as determined by the Secretary of HUD, with adjustments for smaller and larger families except that the Secretary of HUD may establish higher and lower income ceilings on the basis of findings that such variations are necessary because of unusually high or low family incomes.