Commonly Used Terms and Acronyms


Daily jargon and the “alphabet soup” of acronyms are often confusing.  Here is a list of some frequently used terms.

Area Median Income (AMI)
 A number, released every year by the federal Department of Housing and Development, that represents the combined income of an average household. (The median is the exact middle number in a group.)

Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR)
 – Annual report to Congress on the extent and nature of homelessness.

Annual Progress Report (APR)
 – Report that tracks a program’s progress and accomplishments in HUD’s competitive homeless assistance programs. The APR provides the grantee and HUD with information necessary to assess each grantee’s performance.

Chronic Homelessness
 – A type of homelessness where household is continuously homeless for a year or more (or at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years) with a documented disabling condition.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
 – A federal formula grant program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD.

Continuum of Care (CoC)
 – The agencies, programs and people within a defined geographic region that plan, organize, and deliver housing and services to meet the specific needs of people who are homeless.

Coordinated Assessment
 – A process that uses a common tool to assess and rank currently homeless individuals and families by acuity to ensure the households with the highest acuity are prioritized for access to permanent housing and supports.

Coordinated Entry
 – A process designed to coordinate program participant intakes and referrals. A centralized, or coordinated, system creates a singular process for accessing homeless services.

Disabling Condition
 – A disabling condition limits an individual’s ability to work or perform one or more activities of daily living. Typically refers to a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability.

Domestic Violence (DV)
 – Occurs when a family member, partner, or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate another. Includes physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation, and threats of violence.

Emergency Shelter (ES)
 – Any facility whose primary purpose is to provide temporary shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the homeless.

Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)
 – A Federal formula grant program that provides funding for five activities- Street Outreach, Emergency Shelter, Homeless prevention, Rapid Rehousing, and HMIS. Funding is provided via Entitlement City or State Governments.

Fair Market Rate/Rent (FMR)
Used to determine payment standard amounts for the Housing Choice Voucher program, to determine initial renewal rents for some expiring project-based Section 8 contracts, to determine initial rents for housing assistance payment (HAP) contracts in the Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy program (Mod Rehab), and to serve as a rent ceiling in the HOME rental assistance program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annually estimates FMRs for 530 metropolitan areas and 2,045 nonmetropolitan county FMR areas. By law the final FMRs for use in any fiscal year must be published and available for use at the start of that fiscal year, on October 1.

Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
 – A measure of income issued every year by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal poverty levels are used to determine your eligibility for certain programs and benefits, including savings on Marketplace health insurance, and Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

Functional Zero
At any point in time, the number of Veterans experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness will be no greater than the current monthly housing placement rate for Veterans experiencing homelessness.

Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH Act)
 – Amended and reauthorized the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act with substantial changes in 2009. It consolidated HUD’s Continuum of Care grant programs and changed HUD’s definition of homelessness and chronic homelessness.

Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)
 – A computerized data collection tool designed to capture client-level information over time on the characteristics and service needs of households experiencing homelessness. In North Carolina the HMIS provider is the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH).

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
 – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.

Housing First
 – A model of housing assistance that is offered without preconditions (such as sobriety or a minimum income threshold) or service participation requirements, and rapid placement and stabilization in permanent housing are primary goals.

Housing Inventory Chart (HIC)
 – Collects information about all of the beds and units in each Continuum of Care homeless system, categorized by Provider Program Types, emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
 –A federal grant program for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families.

McKinney-Vento Act
 – Authorized in 1987, the Act funds numerous programs providing a range of services to currently homeless households, including the Continuum of Care program.

Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)
 – Federal notification of the rules and governing policies of the Continuum of Care program in a given grant year.

Orange Card
 – A medical assistance program of the Guilford Community Care Network that provides access to a medical home, emergency assistance, dental care, and possible bill assistance for any patient with an income between 0%–200% of the federal poverty level.

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)
 – SAMHSA’s Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) funds services for people with serious mental illness (SMI) experiencing homelessness. PATH grants are distributed annually to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each state or territory solicits proposals and awards funds to local public or nonprofit organizations, known as PATH providers.

Point in Time Count (PITC)
 –Is a one-day “census” of the homeless population in the CoC. This count includes a street count and count of all clients in emergency and transitional beds.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
 –  ‪A program designed to provide housing and supportive services on a long-term basis for homeless persons with disabilities, and their families.

Rapid Re-housing (RRH)
 – Program that provides financial assistance and services to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless and help those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly re-housed and stabilized.

Request for Proposal (RFP)
 – A document that solicits a proposal, often made through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.

SSI-SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery Program (SOAR)
A program designed to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Social Security Disabilities Insurance (SSDI)
 – A payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program of the United States government managed by the Social Security Administration designed to provide income supplements to those physically restricted in their ability to be employed.

Special Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Offered by the US Dept. of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. FNS works with State agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can make informed decisions about applying for the program and can access benefits. FNS also works with State partners and the retail community to improve program administration and ensure program integrity.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (SSVF)
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program awards grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives who can provide supportive services to very low-income Veteran families living in or transitioning to permanent housing.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
 – A monthly stipend provided to aged (legally deemed to be 65 or older), blind, or disabled persons based on need, paid by the U.S. Government.

Transitional Housing (TH)
 – A program that provides temporary residence—6-24 months—for people experiencing homelessness. Housing is combined with wrap-around services to assist the individual with developing stability in their lives.

Unaccompanied Youth
 – Minors not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian, including those living in shelters, cars, or on the streets. Also includes those who have been denied housing by their families and school-age unwed mothers who have no housing of their own.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
 – A department of the United States government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
 – The Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs and homelessness programs.

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)
 – Program combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  VA provides these services for participating Veterans at VA medical centers (VAMCs) and community-based outreach clinics.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
 – A special supplemental food and nutrition program for women, infants and children under age 5.

Work First
 – Program that assists parents in getting short-term training and other services to help them become employed and self-sufficient, most families have two years to move off Work First Family Assistance.