Opening Doors Northwest Florida

Terminology of Homelessness

Affordable Housing

In general, housing for which the tenants are paying no more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs, including utilities. Affordable housing may either be subsidized housing or unsubsidized market housing. A special type of affordable housing for people with disabilities who need services along with affordable housing is “Permanent Supportive Housing.”

Area Median Income (AMI)

The household in a certain region that is in the exact middle in terms of income compared to other households will set the AMI for their region (the household size is a factor taken into account; there are different AMIs for households of different sizes in the same region). This number is calculated every year by HUD. HUD focuses on a region, rather than a single city, because families and individuals are likely to look outside of cities to surrounding areas when searching for a place to live.

Chronically Homeless

In general, a household that has been continually homeless for over a year, or one that has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years, where the combined lengths of homelessness of those episodes is at least one year, and in which the individual has a disabling condition. (See 24 CFR 578.3)

Continuum of Care (CoC)

A local geographic area designated by HUD and served by a local planning body, which is responsible for organizing and delivering housing and services to meet the needs of people who are homeless as they move to stable housing and maximum self-sufficiency. The terms “CoC Governing Body” or “CoC Board” have the same meanings. In some contexts, the term “continuum of care” is also sometimes used to refer to the system of programs addressing homelessness. The geographic areas for the Florida CoCs are provided in Appendix VIII. (See 24 CFR 578.3 and F.S. 420.621)

CoC Lead Agency

The local organization or entity that implements the work and policies directed by the CoC. In Florida, there are 27 CoC Lead Agencies, serving 64 of 67 Florida counties. The CoC Lead Agency typically serves as the “Collaborative Applicant,” which submits annual funding requests for HUD CoC Program funding on behalf of the CoC. The contacts for the CoC Lead Agencies are provided in Appendix IX.

Coordinated Entry System

A standardized community-wide process to perform outreach and identify homeless households, enter their information into HMIS, use common tools to assess their needs, and prioritize access to housing interventions and services to end their homelessness. Sometimes referred to as a “triage system” or “coordinated intake and assessment.” (See 24 CFR 578.3)

Council on Homelessness

The Council on Homelessness was created in 2001 to develop policies and recommendations to reduce homelessness in Florida. The Council’s mission is to develop and coordinate policy to reduce the prevalence and duration of homelessness, and work toward ending homelessness in Florida. (See F.S. 420.622)


A strategy that prevents homelessness for people seeking shelter by helping them stay housed where they currently are or by identifying immediate alternate housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services and financial assistance to help them return to permanent housing. This strategy is used in order to keep individuals from entering the homelessness system in their county.

Effectively Ending Homelessness

Effectively ending homelessness means that the community has a comprehensive response in place to ensure that homelessness is prevented whenever possible, or if it cannot be prevented, it is a rare, brief, and non-recurring phenomenon. Specifically, the community will have the capacity to: (1) quickly identify and engage people at risk of or already experiencing homelessness; (2) intervene to prevent the loss of housing and divert people from entering the homelessness services system; and (3) when homelessness does occur, provide immediate access to shelter and crisis services, without barriers to entry, while permanent stable housing and appropriate supports are being secured, and quickly connect people to housing assistance and services—tailored to their unique needs and strengths—to help them achieve and maintain stable housing. (Source: USICH)

Emergency Shelter

A facility operated to provide temporary shelter for people who are homeless. HUD’s guidance is that the lengths of stay in emergency shelter prior to moving into permanent housing should not exceed 30 days. (See 24 CFR 576.2)

Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)

HUD funding that flows through state and certain local governments for street outreach, emergency shelters, rapid re-housing, homelessness prevention, and certain HMIS costs. (See 24 CFR 576)


The term encampment has connotations of both impermanence and continuity. People are staying in temporary structures or enclosed places that are not intended for long-term continuous occupancy on an ongoing basis. (Source: HUD)

Extremely Low-Income (ELI)

Household income that is 30 percent or less of the AMI of the community. (See F.S. 420.0004)

Florida Housing Finance Corporation

Florida Housing Finance Corporation was created by the Florida Legislature 40 years ago to help Floridians obtain safe, decent, affordable housing that might otherwise be unavailable to them. The corporation provides funds for the development of housing. (See F.S. 420.501- 420.55)


There are varied definitions of homelessness. Generally, “homeless” means lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and living in temporary accommodations (e.g., shelter) or in places not meant for human habitation. Households fleeing domestic violence and similar threatening conditions are also considered homeless. For purposes of certain programs and funding, families with minor children who are doubled-up with family or friends for economic reasons may also be considered homeless, as are households at imminent risk of homelessness. (See 24 CFR 578.3)

The Homeless Emergency and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act

Federal legislation that, in 2009, amended and reauthorized the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The HEARTH/McKinney Vento Act provides federal funding for homeless programs, including the HUD ESG funds and the HUD CoC Grant funding. (See https://files. HEARTHAct.pdf)

Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)

A web-based software solution and database tool designed to capture and analyze client-level information including the characteristics, service needs, and use of services by persons experiencing homelessness. HMIS is an important component of an effective Coordinated Entry System, CoC planning efforts, and performance evaluation based on program outcomes. (See 24 CFR 578.3)

Homelessness Prevention

Short-term financial assistance, sometimes with support services, for households at imminent risk of homelessness and who have no other resources to prevent homelessness. For many programs, the household must also be extremely low-income, with income at or less than 30 percent of the AMI, to receive such assistance. (See 24 CFR 576.103)

Housing First Approach

An approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing people experiencing homelessness with housing as quickly as possible and, once the person is housed, then providing services to help the person remain stably housed. This approach is consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness need and want. Housing first is recognized as an evidence-based best practice, is cost effective, and results in better outcomes as compared to other approaches. The Florida Legislature encourages CoCs to adopt the housing first approach to reduce homelessness.

Housing or Permanent Housing

Any housing arrangement in which the person/tenant can live indefinitely, as long as the rent is paid, and lease terms are followed. Temporary living arrangements and programs such as emergency shelters, transitional programs, and rehabilitation programs do not meet the definition of housing.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

HUD provides funding to states and local communities to address homelessness. In addition, this department supports fair housing, community development, and affordable housing, among other issues.

HUD CoC Funding

Funding administered by HUD through local CoC Collaborative Applicant (i.e., CoC Lead Agency) entities. Eligible uses for new projects include permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, coordinated entry, HMIS, and CoC planning.

Local Housing Trust Funds

Florida’s Sadowski Act Affordable Housing Trust Funds receive funding from dedicated revenue from real estate doc stamps. 70% of these funds are allocated to the Local Government Housing Trust Fund for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) that funds housing programs.

Longitudinal System Analysis (LSA)

The Longitudinal System Analysis for the Annual Homeless Report is one part of HUD’s annual report to Congress. The LSA report is produced from a CoC’s HMIS and is submitted annually to HUD. This report provides information about how people who are experiencing homelessness are using their housing crisis response system.

Low Income

Low-income persons means one or more natural persons or a family, the total annual adjusted gross household income of which does not exceed 80 percent of the median annual adjusted gross income for households within the state, or 80 percent of the median annual adjusted gross income for households within the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or, if not within an MSA, within the county in which the person or family resides, whichever is greater. (See F.S. 420.0004)

Office on Homelessness

Created in 2001, the Office on Homelessness was established as a central point of contact within state government on matters related to homelessness. The Office coordinates the services of the various state agencies and programs to serve individuals or families who are homeless or are facing homelessness. Office staff work with the Council on Homelessness to develop state policy. The Office also manages targeted state grants to support the implementation of local homeless service CoC plans. The Office is responsible for coordinating resources and programs across all levels of government, and with private providers that serve people experiencing homelessness. (See F.S. 420.622)


A necessary homeless system component that involves interacting with unsheltered people who are homeless in whatever location they naturally stay (e.g., in campsites, on the streets), building trust, and offering access to appropriate housing interventions. (See 24 CFR 576.101)

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

Safe and affordable housing for people with disabling conditions, legal tenancy housing rights, and access to individualized support services. PSH that is funded through HUD CoC funding should prioritize people who are chronically homeless with the longest terms of homelessness and the highest level of vulnerability/acuity in terms of health issues and service needs. (See 24 CFR 578.3)

Point in Time (PIT) Count

HUD requires CoCs to count the number of people experiencing homelessness in their geographic area through the Point in Time (PIT) Count on a given day. Conducted by most CoCs during the last ten days in January, the PIT Count includes people served in shelter programs every year, with every other year also including people who are un-sheltered. Data collected during the PIT Counts is critical to effective planning and performance management toward the goal of ending homelessness for each community and for the nation as a whole. A one-night snapshot of homelessness in a specific geographic area, the PIT Count data are presented in Appendix VI. (See 24 CFR 578.3)

Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)

A housing intervention designed to move a household into permanent housing (e.g., a rental unit) as quickly as possible, ideally within 30 days of identification. Rapid Re-Housing typically provides (1) help identifying appropriate housing; (2) financial assistance (deposits and short-term or medium-term rental assistance for 1-24 months), and (3) support services as long as needed and desired, up to a certain limit. (See 24 CFR 576.104)

Services or Support Services

A wide range of services designed to address issues negatively affecting a person’s quality of life, stability, and/or health. Examples include behavioral health counseling or treatment for mental health and/or substance use issues, assistance increasing income through employment or disability assistance, financial education, assistance with practical needs such as transportation or housekeeping, and connections to other critical resources such as primary health care.

Sheltered/Unsheltered Homelessness

People who are in temporary shelters, including emergency shelter and transitional shelters, are considered “sheltered.” People who are living outdoors or in places not meant for human habitation are considered “unsheltered.”

State Housing Trust Funds

Florida’s Sadowski Act Affordable Housing Trust Funds receive funding from dedicated revenue from real estate doc stamps. 30% of these funds are allocated to the State Housing Trust Fund for programs such as the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program. In Florida, the Housing Trust Funds are used for affordable housing when appropriated for that use by the State Legislature. Housing Trust Funds may also be funded by general revenue and government bonds.

Stella P.

Used as a tool to visualize system performance based on LSA data, Stella P. provides an illustrative approach to a housing crisis response system’s data by reporting the number of days homeless, exists from the homeless system to permanent destinations, and returns to homelessness. Stella P. develops data visualization elements to describe trends, population characteristics, performance, and comparisons based on official HUD data sets.

Transitional Program

A temporary shelter program that allows for moderate stays (3- 24 months) and provides support services. Based on research on the efficacy and costs of this model, this type of program should be a very limited component of the housing crisis response system, due to the relative costliness of the programs in the absence of outcomes that exceed rapid re-housing outcomes. Transitional housing should be used only for specific subpopulations such as transition-age youth.

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)

A federal Council that co-ordinates the federal response to homelessness, working in partnership with Cabinet Secretaries and senior leaders from nineteen federal member agencies.

Very Low Income

Very-low-income persons means one or more natural persons or a family, not including students, the total annual adjusted gross household income of which does not exceed 50 percent of the median annual adjusted gross income for households within the state, or 50 percent of the median annual adjusted gross income for households within the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or, if not within an MSA, within the county in which the person or family resides, whichever is greater. (See F.S. 420.0004)