Glossary

Accessible
Refers to a site, facility, work environment, service, or program that is easy to approach, enter, operate, participate in, and/or use safely and with dignity by a person with a disability.

Adaptive Reuse
Old buildings often outlive their original purposes. Adaptive reuse, or re-use, is a process that adapts buildings for new uses while retaining their historic features. An old factory may become an apartment building. A rundown church may find new life as a restaurant ... and a restaurant may become a church.

Affordable Housing
In general, housing for which the occupant(s) is/are paying no more than 30 percent of his or her income for gross housing costs, including utilities. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.

Affordable Housing Program (AHP)
A competitive program of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBanks) system that provides grants twice a year through financial institutions for investment in low- or moderate-income housing initiatives. The program is flexible so that AHP funds can be used in combination with other programs and funding sources, thus promoting a project’s feasibility.

Building Performance
Building performance is the cumulative energy performance and physical and operational characteristics of commercial and residential buildings that include cost effectiveness, safety and security, sustainability, accessibility, functionality, and productivity. Building performance is determined using basic energy consumption benchmarking, engineering audits and analysis, as well as sophisticated computer modeling and simulation. Typically, a comprehensive, whole-building approach is used to identify and fix comfort and energy efficiency problems in a building. Building science is usually applied to building performance to improve energy efficiency, durability, health and safety, indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and indoor moisture sources and solutions — and the systems that are designed to provide these features.

Community Development Corporation (CDC)
A not-for-profit organization incorporated to provide programs, offer services, and engage in other activities that promote and support community development. CDCs usually serve a geographic location such as a neighborhood or a town. They often focus on serving lower-income residents or struggling neighborhoods and can be involved in a variety of activities, including economic development, education, community organizing, and real estate development.

Department of Energy (DOE)
The U.S. Department of Energy ensures America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

Energy Audit
Any process that identifies and specifies the energy and cost savings likely to be realized through the purchase and installation of particular energy efficiency measures or renewable energy measures. During an energy audit, a certified technician will investigate a home’s current conditions and test for health and safety (carbon monoxide levels, moisture, and indoor air quality problems), overall comfort level (cold/hot spots, indoor air quality stuffiness/stale odors), air sealing opportunities, insulation levels, heating system efficiency, cooling system/central air conditioning efficiency, and domestic hot water system efficiency. Based on the results of the tests, the technician will make recommendations for improving the home’s efficiency.

Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE)
Established in 1980, the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises connects a network of local, regional, and national leaders to eliminate persistent poverty in Appalachia.

Fair Housing Act
Passed by Congress in 1968 and amended in 1974 and 1988, the Fair Housing Act provides the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development with fair housing enforcement and investigation responsibilities. This law prohibits discrimination in all facets of the homebuying process on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

Fair Market Rent
Primarily 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 contracts in the Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy program, and to serve as a rent ceiling in the HOME rental assistance program.

Green Building
Green building refers to environmentally responsible and resource-efficient design and construction throughout a building's life-cycle, from the siting of the building on the land to its design, materials selection, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. It may also refer to structures and their associated landscapes that are located, designed, constructed, operated and dismantled in an environmentally responsible manner to minimize short- and long-term negative impacts on the environment and building occupants.

Housing Choice Vouchers
The Housing Choice Voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Established in 1965, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission is to increase homeownership, support community development, and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. To fulfill this mission, HUD embraces high standards of ethics, management, and accountability and forges new partnerships — particularly with faith-based and community organizations — that leverage resources and improve HUD’s ability to be effective on the community level.

Income Limit
Determines the eligibility of applicants for HUD’s assisted housing programs. The major active assisted housing programs are the Public Housing program, the Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments program, Section 202 housing for the elderly, and Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
A tax incentive intended to increase the availability of low-income housing. The program provides an income tax credit to owners of newly constructed or substantially rehabilitated low-income rental housing projects.

Multifamily Housing
A building with more than four residential rental units.

NeighborWorks (NW)
A network of more than two hundred independent, community-based nonprofit organizations that assist low- and moderate-income people with their housing needs.

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.

Rental Assistance
Any project-based or tenant-based tools or services that make renting more affordable such as reduced rents for low-income tenants.

Section 8 Rental Assistance
Provides rental assistance to low-income families who are unable to afford market rents. Assistance may be in the form of vouchers or certificates.

Social Determinants of Health
Conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, and age that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes. These include education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety, housing and transit, and access to health care.

Social Enterprise
An organization whose primary purpose is the common good. Community Housing Partners (CHP) is a “social enterprise” organization. CHP uses earned revenue to pursue a triple bottom line through social, environmental and economic sustainability. CHP directly confronts social needs by providing housing and services for low-income, low-wealth people in the Southeastern United States. Further, CHP is structured as a non-profit 501c3, charity organization that acts as a force for positive social change, in service to the common good.

Stewards of Affordable Housing For the Future (SAHF)
Launched in 2003, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future is a nonprofit collaborative of multi-state nonprofit affordable housing providers that collectively own more than 130,000 affordable rental homes. SAHF’s mission is to lead policy innovation and advance excellence in the delivery of affordable rental homes that expand opportunity and promote dignity for residents.

Sustainability
Ethical and conscious conduct that preserves or advances the social, cultural, economic, and environmental integrity of a community. The capacity to endure.

Universal Design
A design concept that encourages the construction or rehabilitation of housing and elements of the living environment in a manner that makes them usable by all people, regardless of ability, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

Virginia Community Development Corporation (VCDC)
The Virginia Community Development Corporation is a tax credit fund manager that creates opportunities for corporate investors and local community sponsors to support affordable housing and economic development in Virginia.

Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA)
A self-supporting, not-for-profit organization created by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1972 to help Virginians attain quality, affordable housing.

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development partners with Virginia’s communities to develop their economic potential, regulates Virginia’s building and fire codes, provides training and certification for building officials, and invests each year into housing and community development projects throughout the state — the majority of which are designed to help low- to moderate-income citizens. 

Viridiant
Formerly EarthCraft Virginia, Viridiant is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting sustainable building processes through education, consultation, and certification. Through certification programs, including EarthCraft and Viridiant Net-Zero, Viridiant helps to set a path for sustainable, affordable, energy-efficient construction.

Weatherization
Sealing the envelope of a home — windows, doorways, outer walls, roof and floors — against air leaks reduces drafts, controls moisture, keeps out pollutants and improves overall comfort. Collectively, sealing such leaks is known as weatherization and it is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to increase home comfort and energy efficiency. Before weatherizing a home, a home performance assessment is conducted to find the air leaks that are not obvious by “feel.”

Workforce Housing
Workforce housing generally refers to affordable housing for households with earned income that is insufficient to secure quality housing in reasonable proximity to the workplace. It can refer to any form of housing, including ownership of single or multi-family homes, as well as occupation of rental units. This includes rental or for-sale housing units that are affordable to households with maximum income limits up to and including 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for a particular area, as determined periodically by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.