Supportive Housing Key Terms

Following are many of the terms used in supportive housing programs and the definitions that CSH finds to be most generally accepted.

Activities of Daily Living Skills (ADLS)
Basic skills required to take care of one’s personal needs, such as grooming, housekeeping, budgeting and using transportation.

Affordable Housing
A general term applied to public- and private-sector efforts to help low- and moderate-income people purchase or lease housing. As defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, any housing accommodation for which a tenant household pays 30% or less of its income.

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
The advanced stage of HIV disease is characterized by a severely compromised immune system that increases vulnerability to life-threatening opportunistic infections.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Federal legislation that defines the rights of access to and use of public accommodations, commercial facilities and the workplace for people with disabilities. Also provides mechanisms for enforcement of rights of disabled persons against private persons, other entities (such as employers), and state and local governments.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams
Multidisciplinary teams that provide case management, crisis intervention, medication monitoring, social support, assistance with everyday living needs, access to medical care and employment assistance for people with mental illness. The programs are based on an assertive outreach approach with hands-on assistance provided to individuals in their homes and neighborhoods.

At Risk of Homelessness
An individual or family that is low-income and does not have the support or resources necessary to prevent them from becoming homeless. They are also exiting an institution, living in an unstable housing situation or at imminent risk of eviction. See HUD’s complete definition.

Case Management
The overall coordination of an individual’s use of services, which may include medical and mental health services, substance-abuse services, and vocational training and employment. Although the definition of case management varies with local requirements and staff roles, a case manager often assumes responsibilities for outreach, advocacy and referral on behalf of individual clients.

Clinical
Pertaining to standardized evaluation (through direct observation and assessment) and conducted with the intent to offer intervention/treatment.

Community Building
Efforts intended to accomplish any of the following: develop and sustain strong relationships among individuals, develop and sustain involvement in neighborhood and community-based organizations and institutions, and develop group capacity to collaboratively identify and accomplish common goals.

Community Organizing
The process of bringing people together to identify common interests and work collaboratively to accomplish common goals.

Consumers
Recipients of health, mental health and/or social services.

Debriefing
A process that allows people to discuss thoughts, feelings and opinions regarding a recent experience.

Decompensation
Movement away from functioning at baseline level toward a reduced level of functioning and stability; psychological imbalance.

Delusion
A serious disturbance in thought content; belief systems that are not based in reality.

Detoxification
The process of ridding the body of addictive substances via a gradual or complete decrease of substances, intended to result in the cessation of use.

DSM IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
A publication of the American Psychiatric Association that describes mental disorders and the criteria for diagnosis.

Dually Diagnosed
Term used to describe individuals who are diagnosed with two different disorders, such as mental illness and chemical addiction.

Entitlements
Publicly funded financial and medical benefits available to individuals who meet criteria usually based upon income or disability measures.

Fair Housing
Refers to federal laws designed to protect access to housing regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, familial status, religion or disability.

Harm Reduction
A model of substance-use intervention that focuses on helping people who use substances to better manage their use and reduce the harmful consequences to themselves and others

Housing First
The goal of "housing first" is to immediately house people who are homeless. Housing comes first no matter what is going on in one's life, and the housing is flexible and independent so that people get housed easily and stay housed. Housing first can be contrasted with a continuum of housing "readiness," which typically subordinates access to permanent housing to other requirements.

Intake
The process for determining or assessing eligibility of applicants for services.

Intervention
The action taken to address a situation or problem.

Job Development
Creating or connecting to job opportunities.

Life Skills
See activities of daily living skills (ADLS).

Low-demand Environment
A low threshold program that emphasizes ease of entry and ongoing access to services with minimal requirements.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
A congressionally created tax credit (Internal Revenue Code Section 42) available to investors in low-income housing designed to encourage investment that helps finance construction and rehabilitation of housing for low-income renters.

Master Leasing
A legal contract in which a third party (other than the actual tenant) enters into a lease agreement with the property owner and is responsible for tenant selection and collection of rental payments from sub-lessees (see sublease).

Medicaid
The Medicaid Program provides medical benefits to low-income and disabled people who have no medical insurance. The Medicaid program is funded through state and federal funds. States are required to provide eligibility to certain types of individuals and may include other groups. The mandatory eligible groups include: very low-income families and children who are eligible for the state's welfare (TANF) benefits; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients or in states using more restrictive criteria, individuals who are aged (65+), blind or disabled.

Medicare
A federal program that provides health insurance to people age 65 and over and certain people with disabilities.

Operating Reserve
Funds set aside to be used to offset possible losses due to unexpectedly low rent collections or unanticipated operating and maintenance costs. A reserve may be required by a lender in the form of an escrow to pay upcoming taxes and insurance costs.

Permanent Housing
In the world of supportive housing, the term "permanent" typically refers to affordable rental housing in which the tenants have the legal right to remain in the unit as long as they wish, as defined by the terms of a renewable lease agreement. Tenants enjoy all of the rights and responsibilities of typical rental housing, so long as they abide by the (reasonable) conditions of their lease.

Reasonable Accommodations
A key provision of the ADA, which requires that housing be made accessible to persons with disabilities. It also applies to requirements on employers to make alterations in the work environments to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities.

Rehabilitation
A treatment approach that involves assessing a person’s skills and needs, and teaching skills to reduce a person’s disability and maximize a person’s functioning in the community.

Relapse
A return to addictive behavior after a period of abstinence. It may take the form of an isolated incident of use or repeated use.

Relapse Prevention
A variety of supports and tools, including group and individual work intended to assist individuals who have made a commitment to abstinence.

Release of Information Forms
Documents signed by residents that allow staff to share confidential information (e.g., mental health and substance use treatment, HIV information) with other service providers as necessary.

Representative Payee
A person who receives another person’s SSI, SSDI or public assistance check on their behalf in order to help them manage their funds.

Scattered-site Housing
Dwelling units in apartments or homes spread throughout a neighborhood or community that are designated for specific populations, usually accompanied by supportive services.

Single-site Housing
A housing program in which all living units are located in a single building or complex.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Income)
An insurance program that provides cash benefits for people with disabilities who have made payroll contributions to the federal social security program while they were employed.

SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
Federal cash benefits for people aged 65 and over, the blind or disabled. Benefits are based upon income and living arrangement.

Stages of Change
A model of addiction and recovery that identifies phases of readiness to alter addictive behavior. Related interventions are based upon the individual’s state of awareness and desire to change behavior at a given point in time.

Stakeholders
Individuals who have a vested interest in the outcomes or the process of a particular endeavor.

Supported Employment
Employment in an integrated setting with ongoing support provided by an agency with expertise in providing vocational services to people with disabilities.

Supportive Housing
Combines and links permanent, affordable housing with flexible, voluntary support services designed to help the tenants stay housed and build the necessary skills to live as independently as possible.

Tenant
Whenever possible, CSH uses the term "tenant" (rather than consumer, resident, client or participant) to refer to the people who live in supportive housing projects. This emphasizes the importance of permanent housing in ending homelessness and recognizes that in many programs, tenants may or may not also be voluntary customers of support services provided. This is not meant to minimize the great amount of time and energy some programs spend with people before they are actually tenants. It is, however, intended to underscore that tenants of supportive housing should have the same rights and responsibilities of tenants of other lease-based, permanent housing.

Transitional Housing
Housing meant to help people who are homeless access permanent housing, usually within two years.

Voluntary Services
The term "supportive" in supportive housing refers to voluntary, flexible services designed primarily to help tenants maintain housing. Voluntary services are those that are available to but not demanded of tenants, such as service coordination/case management, physical and mental health, substance use management and recovery support, job training, literacy and education, youth and children's programs, and money management.

 

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