Affordable Housing Glossary

This glossary primarily includes terms and acronyms commonly utilized on HUD USER, within periodicals and data sets of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and across various HUD Programs.


Accessible ( FH Act )

It means that the handicapped can approach and enter the public and commonly used areas of the building. The Phrases that can be used in place of the accessible include readily accessible to and usable by

Accessible ( section 504 )

It means that the unit is located on an accessible route and can be used by individuals with physical impairments when designed and constructed. If the unit meets the requirements of the applicable standards decided by the impairment, then such a unit will be deemed accessible.

Accessible Route ( FH act )

It refers to the continuous unobstructed path which connects the elements and spaces in a building that can be negotiated by a person having a severe disability. Out of the accessible route, there are interior accessible routes and exterior accessible routes. The Interior accessible route includes elevators, lifts, and floors. The exterior accessible routes include parking access aisles, walks, and ramps.

Accessible Route ( section 504 )

The accessible route under section 504 is meant for persons with hearing or vision impairments. Such persons do not need to comply with the requirements intended to affect persons with mobility impairments. Also, the accessible route path complies with the space and reach requirements as per the prescribed standards.

Adaptability ( section 504 )

Adaptability refers to the ability of certain elements of a dwelling unit including sinks, and kitchen counters to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities. For instance, the provision of visible emergency alarms can be made for the hearing impaired person.

Adjusted Income

When the owner deducts some of the amounts from the annual income, then the person’s adjusted income is determined. The amounts which are deducted include $480 for each dependent, $400 for disabled families, reasonable child care expenses, and the sum that exceeds 3% of the annual income.


The individual more than 18 years of age or older who has been authorized to act on his/her behalf is deemed an adult. This also includes the ability to execute a contract or lease agreement.

Alteration ( section 504 )

The housing unit requesting any change in the facility or some permanent fixtures or changes in equipment is known as alteration. The alteration includes renovation, reconstruction, changes in structural parts, and some repairs. Normal maintenance and interior decoration do not come under it.

Annual Income

The amount which is earned by the head of the family or other family members in monetary form during the 12-month period is regarded as annual income. Besides this, the anticipation of receiving the income from some source in a 12 month period also counts as annual income.


The applicant refers to the individual or family who has applied for housing assistance under the HUD programs.


It is a written request made in a subsidized housing unit including the information determining the eligibility and suitability for the housing assistance for the tenant. The application form must be duly signed by the applicant and include the certification stating that the information provided is accurate.

Assistance animals

The assistance animals are the animals that provide assistance in the form of emotional support to people with disabilities. Some of the names often used for such animals include service animals, assistive animals, therapy animals, or support animals. These animals guide individuals who are blind, altering the ones who are deaf or providing protection by pulling a wheelchair or fetching items.

Assistance Payment

Assistance payment is the amount paid by HUD to the owner of the housing unit to be occupied under section 8, RAP, PAC tenant, or rent supplement. In other terms, it is the Gross rent minus the total tenant payment.

Assisted Rent

It is the rent that is less than the market rent and includes section 236 rents which are usually greater than the basic rent.

Assisted Tenant

The tenant who pays less than the market rate is regarded as an assisted tenant. It includes the tenants receiving the rent supplement, paying section 236 basic rent, paying above the basic rent, living in section 202, and paying the BMIR contract rent.

Auxiliary Aids ( section 504 )

Persons with impaired sensory or speaking skills can take advantage of the auxiliary services or devices to enjoy the benefits of programs and receive federal assistance. For instance, if someone has impaired vision, then such a person can be assisted with readers, audio recordings, and similar devices.


Basic rent

Basic rent is the minimum rent that all tenants under section 236 should pay. It represents the amount of rent that the owner needs to receive to operate the property by reducing the mortgage interest rate to as low as 1%.


The meeting held between the tenant and owner before signing the lease is known as a briefing. The owner discusses numerous things during the meeting concerning living in the unit, tenant rights, house rules, and terms of the lease.


Chronically Mentally Ill

An adult who has a severe chronic mental illness that seriously limits his ability to live independently is regarded as chronically mentally ill. Such impairment can be easily met by providing the applicants with suitable housing conditions.


The applicant applying for housing assistance must be a citizen or national of the United States.

Co-Head of Household

Co-head of the household refers to an adult member of the family who is treated like the head of the family for determining the income, rent, and eligibility requirements.

Common Household Pet

The common household pet is a pet that can be easily kept in the home for pleasure purposes. Such pets include dogs, cats, birds, rodents, fish, and turtles. It does not include the reptiles except the turtles and also these animals do not assist persons with disabilities.

Contract Rent

Contract rent is the rent that the contract administrator or HUD has approved for each unit type under the assistance contract. The HUD, tenant, or both are eligible to pay the rent for this.

Covered Person

The covered person might be the tenant, any member of the tenant’s family, a guest, or another person who is under the tenant’s control.

Currently engaging in

It refers to the individual who is engaged in criminal activity or illegal use of the drug and seems to justify a reasonable belief specifying that the behavior is current.



The owner must deduct the following from the annual income while determining the adjusted income which includes $480 for each dependent, $400 for seniors, and reasonable child care expenses.

Denial of Tenancy or Assistance

When the applicant’s request for housing assistance is rejected because of failing to meet the eligibility criteria, then it is deemed a denial of tenancy or assistance.


The member of the family below 18 years of age or a person with disabilities who cannot afford a living on his own and is dependent on the other family members for a living.

Disability ( section 504 )

Disability refers to the condition that renders an individual useless. He/she is not able to do even the basic things on their own and relies on other family members for their needs.

Disabled Family

When two or more persons in a family are living together with disabilities, then it is regarded as a disabled family.

Disabled Household

A household composed of one or more persons living with a disability is the disabled household. In addition to this, when the surviving member of the family is living in an assisted unit the deceased member is also deemed a disabled household.

Displaced Family

A family in which one or the other person is displaced by governmental action or whose dwelling has been damaged by the disaster is considered a displaced family.

Displaced Person

A person who is being displaced by the government or by natural calamities such as disasters is known as a displaced person.


Drug refers to the chemical substance that when consumed can cause a change in a person’s psychology.

Drug-related criminal activity

Drug-related criminal activity includes the illegal manufacturing, sale, distribution, or use of a drug.


Elderly Family

A family whose head is of 62 years of age or more is regarded as an elderly family. In addition to this, when two or more elderly persons are living together is determined by the HUD.

Elderly Person

A household composed of one or more persons who are 62 years of age or more at the time of receiving the housing assistance is regarded as an elderly person.

Eligible Non-citizen

The person who has the eligible immigration status in one of the categories mentioned is regarded as an eligible non-citizen. One category is when a non-citizen is lawfully admitted for permanent residence and the other is when the non-citizen entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972. Besides this, a non-citizen is regarded as a lawful resident in the United States and other territories.


When the tenant is asked to leave the housing unit before the end of the lease term, then it is regarded as eviction.

Evidence of Citizenship or Eligible Status

The documents which the participant submits to prove his eligible immigration or citizenship status is deemed as evidence of citizenship.

Expected to reside

The actual knowledge of whether the child will reside in a dwelling unit reserved for the elderly or disabled people is known as expected to reside.

Extremely Low-Income Family

A family whose annual income is less than the median income for the area is regarded as an extremely low-income family. The median income of a particular area is determined by the HUD.


Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act refers to the Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or family status. This is concerning the housing and housing-related transactions.

Familial Status ( FH Act )

When one or more individuals are domiciled with a parent or enjoy the designation of the parent is regarded as familial status. Whichever protections are offered under the familial status against discrimination fully apply to the pregnant women and the person securing legal custody.


A family can be with or without children and includes an elderly family, disabled, displaced family, or a single person with disabilities.

Family Composition

The individuals who are included in the assisted family and the information concerning the family composition such as name, sex, age, citizenship status, and the relationship they enjoy with one another is regarded as family composition.

Federal financial assistance ( section 504 )

The assistance provided by the department by way of grants, loans, contracts, or any other form is deemed as federal financial assistance. It is usually in the form of funds, services of federal personnel, and personal property.

Federally Assisted Housing

Federally assisted housing includes housing under programs such as public housing, project-based or tenant-based assistance, and housing that is assisted under section 202 of the housing act. It also includes the housing assisted by the HUD or by state or local agencies.

Foster Adult

A foster adult refers to an adult suffering from a disability and one who cannot live alone. Such an adult is not related to the tenant's family.

Foster Children

The children who are under the custody of the state or county but are cared for by their foster parents under short-term and long-term foster care arrangements in their own homes. Unless they are reunited with their parents, the children will remain in foster care only. Later on, these children are available for adoption by another family.


When someone commits deceit and uses false tricks deliberately to gain some advantage, then it is regarded as fraud. It is done intentionally and does not take place accidentally.

Full-time student

The person who is attending school or is on vocational training full-time is known as a full-time student.


Gross Rent

The gross rent is the contract rent plus the utility allowance but only if the property has a utility allowance. In other words, it is referred to as operating rent.

Gross rent change

If there is any change in the contract rent or the utility allowance for a unit, then it is termed as gross rent change.


A person who is temporarily residing in the housing unit with the consent of the tenant or of any other member is known as a guest. A guest is not a party to the lease agreement and should not be confused with the unauthorized tenant.


Hardship Exemption

When the owner is exempted from paying the minimum rent but is unable to pay the section 8 minimum rent on account of long-term financial hardship is termed as hardship exemption.

Head of Household

The adult member of the family who determines the income eligibility and rent is the head of the household.

Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)

The housing assistance payment is the payment made by the HUD or the contract administrator to the owner of the housing unit as mentioned in the contract. The payment made is the difference between the contract rent and tenant rent. Besides this, housing assistance payment is also known as vacancy payment and has to be made to the owner.


Income Limit

The income limits are established by the HUD which is further used to determine whether the housing applicants are eligible for the subsidized properties. The HUD estimates the median income for a particular area and consequently, people are given housing assistance.

Income Targeting

The income targeting is the statutory requirement that at least 40% of the new admissions to section 8 property should be there in each fiscal year. The law makes sure that a significant portion of the federal housing assistance makes its way to the families in the most need.

Increased Ability To Pay

Increased ability to pay refers to an increase in the tenant’s income to the point where the total tenant payment is either equal to or more than the contract rent.

Independent student

The student must be at least 24 years old or a veteran of the U.S armed forces to be deemed as an independent student. Not only this, but the independent student also includes an orphan, a ward of the court, a graduate, and married.


Law enforcement agency

The law enforcement agency includes the national crime information center, police departments, or other law enforcement agencies holding criminal conviction records.


Lease refers to the written agreement between the owner and family for facilitating the lease of a decent, safe, and sanitary dwelling unit to the family.

Lease Term

It refers to the tenure and term of the lease agreement.

Legitimate tenant organization

It is an organization that is established by the tenants of the multifamily housing project. Its main purpose is to address the issues concerning terms and conditions which tenants should meet regularly. Moreover, such organizations are independent of the owners, management, and representatives.

Live-in aide

A person residing with one or more elderly persons or with disabled people is known as a live-in aide. Besides this, the person who is determined for the well-being of others is not obligated to support the person and will not be living in the unit.

Low-Income Family

A family whose annual income is less than 80 percent of the median income as determined by HUD. There are certain adjustments made for the smaller and larger families.


Management Agent

The one who has day-to-day responsibilities to fulfill and assists the multifamily housing property. It is the project owner who is responsible for choosing the management agent and seeking out the standards outlined in the handbook.

Market Area

The area from which a project owner draws applicants on the basis of the services and amenities offered by the community and development is regarded as a market area.

Market Rent

It is the rent decided by the HUD and authorizes the owner to collect the decided rent from the families. The market rent is not the same and varies greatly depending on the kind of project.

Minimum Rent

Minimum rent is the lowest rent permitted for the tenants but only those receiving Section 8 assistance. It covers the tenant’s contribution for rent and utilities.

Mixed family

A family whose some members have citizenship status and those who do not have immigration status is known as a mixed family.



A person who is a permanent citizen of the United States is regarded as a national. For instance, if anyone is born and brought up in the United States, then he will be regarded as a national.

Near elderly family

A family whose head is of at least 50 years of age but is below 62 years is regarded as a near-elderly family.


A person who is neither a U.S citizen nor a national of the United States is regarded as a non-citizen.

Non-elderly disabled family

A family in which the head of the family is less than 62 years of age at the time of receiving the housing assistance is deemed as a non-elderly disabled family.


Operating Rent

Operating rent is the rent approved by the HUD to cover the expenses at a PRAC project.

Other person under the tenant’s control

The person staying in the housing unit because of the invitation from the tenant or the other member but as a guest only. The person residing temporarily for legitimate commercial purposes is not under the tenant’s control.



It refers to the biological or adoptive parents or guardians as these versions are accepted by the PHA.

Person with Disabilities

A person who is impaired mentally or physically which limits his ability in one or the other manner is regarded as a person with disabilities.

Pet Deposit

The tenants who would like to keep their pets in the house along with them are likely to pay a refundable pet deposit to the owner.

Physical Disibility

A physical disability is one that goes on for a long time and affects the person’s ability to live independently. By providing suitable housing conditions, the physical disability and the person's condition can be improved.


Preferences refer to the criteria established to determine if the applicant is to be selected from the waiting list or not for housing assistance.

Preliminary application

It is an application used by the owners during the waiting period to access the eligibility, and waiting list and reaches out to the applicant when the housing unit is available.


Premises are the building in which the public or the dwelling unit is located. It includes the common areas and grounds.

Prohibited bases

There are certain demographic categories that are prohibited by civil rights and are called prohibited bases. The prohibited bases that HUD recognizes include race, color, origin, religion, family status, and disability.

Project assistance contract ( PAC )

The project assistance contract refers to the contract entered into by the borrower and HUD deciding the rights and duties in accordance with the project.

Project rental assistance contract ( PRAC )

It is the contract signed between the owner and HUD in accordance with the project and the payments under PRAC.

Project rental assistance payment

It is the payment that HUD makes to the owner of the housing unit for assisted units.  The difference between the total tenant payment and HUD-approved per unit operating expenses is the payment amount. It is also known as vacancy payment.

Prorated assistance

Prorated assistance is received by mixed families. The amount of assistance is calculated at the ratio of eligible family members to ineligible.

Protected classes

The classes for which the discrimination is prohibited come under the ambit of the protected classes.

Public Housing Agency

The public housing agency is the governmental entity that has the authority to engage in the development of public housing.


Qualified persons with disabilities

An individual with a disability meets the eligibility requirements for participating in a particular program or activity. The eligibility requirements include income along with implicit and explicit requirements. For instance, a chronically mentally ill person whose condition poses a risk to the safety of others.


Recertification Anniversary Date

The first day of the month when a tenant moved into a project receiving HUD assistance is termed the recertification anniversary date. The annual recertification according to the procedures and deadlines, changes in tenant rent, and assistance payment take effect on the recertification anniversary date but only as long as the owner processes.

Recipient ( section 504 )

It refers to any political subdivision, public or private agency, institution, or organization to which federal financial assistance is extended for any given program by another recipient. An entity or person who receives the housing assistance payments on behalf of eligible families is not a recipient.

Rent supplement

Rent supplement is a project-based assistance program for mortgages that are insured by HUD. Unfortunately, the program was suspended under the housing subsidy moratorium. The owners of the insured projects with rent supplements can easily convert to the project-based section 8 assistance.

Rental assistance payment

The rental assistance payment is established by the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 to provide the rental assistance subsidy to owners on behalf of the tenants.

Residency Preference

The residency preference is a preference for admission of persons residing in a particular geographical area.



It is a review of an applicant’s history to identify the behavior patterns which if exhibited at the assisted housing development will make the tenant unsuitable. The criteria for screening include considering the drug-related criminal activity, credit, tenancy, and rent payment history that tend to affect the rights of the other residents and management.

Section 504

Section 504 applies to programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.

Section 8

It is the housing assistance payments program that looks after the implementation of section 8 United States Housing Act of 1937.

Security Deposit

Security deposit refers to the payment required by an owner to be held during the term of the lease to make up for the damages that may be incurred by the tenant. The damages include physical damage to the property, theft of property, or inability to pay the rent.

Service bureaus

Service bureaus are the organizations that prepare monthly subsidy vouchers on the basis of the data requirements and approved special claims to transmit them to the user’s contract administrator. Besides this, the service bureau will also follow the instructions received from HUD or the contract administrator.


The students enrolled full-time or part-time at a higher education institute is regarded as a student for section 8 eligibility purposes.

Student financial assistance

The financial assistance that the student receives apart from tuition and private sources is deemed as student financial assistance. The loan proceeds do not come under student financial assistance.



A tenant is an individual or family renting or occupying an existing dwelling unit.

Tenant consultation

The written comments submitted by the tenants or tenant representatives on the proposed pet rules to the project owner in the notice are known as tenant consultation. Besides this, the owner can schedule a meeting with the tenants to discuss the proposed rules during the comment period.

Tenant Rent

The amount which the family or tenant pays to the owner of the housing unit is known as tenant rent. Here all the utilities and other essential services are provided by the owner to the tenants.

Tenant selection plan

It is a formal written policy statement developed by the owner which is then made available to the public stating the procedures and criteria which the owner will use to draw the applicants from the waiting list. It also includes policies applied to the residents of the property dictating how unit transfers are carried out.

Termination of Assistance

It refers to the situation when a tenant fails to comply with the HUD’s program requirements which in turn leads to the termination of assistance.

Termination of Tenancy

When a tenant violates certain provisions of the lease agreement and consequently, the owner notifies the tenant that he/she has no right to occupy the unit due to the violations. There are specific conditions under which tenancy can be terminated.

Title VI-D

Title VI authorizes the owners of certain HUD multifamily assisted developments to elect the elderly families and limit the disabled families depending on the type of project and the requirements.

Total Tenant Payment

It refers to the total amount which the tenant has to pay to the owner. The rent amount is decided by the HUD.


When the student has enrolled himself in a given institution, it is deemed as tuition.


Unauthorized Occupant

A person who is staying in the housing unit but is not approved by the owner to stay is deemed as an unauthorized occupant. As far as the unauthorized occupant is concerned, the owner must follow the state or local law and accordingly establish the policy stating the house rules.

Unearned Income

The income received by way of wages, tips, or other compensation is regarded as unearned income.

Unintentional program violation

It is an error or oversight from the tenant’s side but is not deliberate and intentional.

Unit Transfer

When a tenant moves from one unit to another but within the same property by seeking the owner's approval is known as a unit transfer.

Utility Allowance ( PRAC )

Utility allowance refers to the amount which is equal to the estimated one. The HUD also approves the monthly costs for the unit. The most prominent use of this is made in cases where the cost of utilities is the household’s responsibility and is not included in the tenant’s payment.

Utility Reimbursement

When the utility allowance for a unit exceeds the total tenant payment, then such an amount is regarded as utility reimbursement.


Very Low-Income Family

A family whose annual income does not exceed 50% of the median income comes under the category of a very low-income family. It is determined by HUD and certain adjustments can also be made in smaller and large families.


A veteran refers to a person who has served in the military, naval, or air service and later on got released. There is a department of veteran affairs that determines the student’s eligibility for section 8 assistance.

Violent criminal activity

The violent criminal activity comprises one of the elements where one has threatened to use physical force or is likely to cause an injury or damage to the property.


Waiting List

The waiting list is the formal record of applicants asking for housing assistance containing the applicant’s information such as name, date, time of application, income category, and the need for the housing unit. Besides this, the owner also has to establish a method of documenting the selection of the applicant’s name from the waiting list.

Welfaire Assistance

There are payments made to families or individuals based on the need by the federal, state, or local government known as welfare assistance.

Welfare Rent

The welfare rent refers to the maximum amount allowed under the welfare rule for rent and utilities. It is based on the actual amount which a family pays for shelter and utilities.

Last Updated: July 20, 2023