Housing Type Definitions

People use lots of different terms to describe housing or housing programs. Sometimes they even use more than one term to describe the same housing program. It can get very confusing! Here are some definitions and ways to think about housing and housing programs.

Types of Housing - by Length of Stay

Type of Housing Description
Permanent Housing This just means that there is no time limit on how long you can reside in the housing or receive the housing assistance. It is meant to be long-term. “Permanent supportive housing” (or PSH) is just permanent housing that makes support services available to help you maintain your housing and access community resources.
Transitional Housing This means that there is a time limit on how long you can stay in the housing or receive the housing assistance. HUD defines transitional housing as stays of up to 24 months (but stays can be shorter).
Short-Term or Temporary Housing This means that the housing situation is intended to be very short-term or temporary (30, 60, or 90 days or less).
Emergency Shelter Provides a place to stay or bed to sleep in overnight if you become homeless or otherwise experience a housing crisis and have no place to go.

Types of Housing - by Level of Support

Type of Housing Description
Independent Living This means that you are able to live on your own without help with daily living. Most housing is designed for independent living.
Assisted Living This type of housing provides on-site services to help people with their daily living when they are not really able to live on their own. It can be permanent or for a period of time. Examples include: nursing homes, long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, special care facilities, and hospice/respite care facilities.

Types of Housing - by Type of Assistance

Type of Housing Description
Market Rate Housing Refers to properties that are rented or owned by people who pay market rent to lease the property or paid market value when they bought the property. There is no subsidy for the housing.
Affordable Housing Refers to properties that were originally built using a tax subsidy and are now required to provide below-market rents for low-income people, persons with disabilities, and/or seniors. Examples include: Low-Income Housing, Disabled Housing, and Senior Housing.
Subsidized Housing (Tenant-Based) Provides a voucher to you to choose where you want to live in the community and lease from a private landlord that will accept the voucher. The program then pays an ongoing monthly subsidy to help you with your rent and utilities. You are usually required to pay at least 30% of your income toward your rent and utilities, and usually your subsidy is limited by fair market rent (FMRs). Since it is tenant-based, the assistance is tied to your voucher. So, if you move, the voucher typically moves with you to another property.

Examples include these subsidy programs:

  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
  • ESG Rapid Re-Housing
  • HOPWA Tenant Based Rental Asst
  • Shelter Plus Care TBRA
Subsidized Housing (Project-Based) Project-based housing assistance requires you to live in a housing unit at the property that is being subsidized. You are usually required to pay at least 30% of your income toward your rent/utilities. Since it is project-based, the assistance is tied to the property. So, if you move, you lose your housing assistance.

Examples include:

  • Section 8 Public Housing
  • Homeless Project-Based Units
  • HOPWA Facility-Based Housing
Homeless Prevention Provides assistance for persons who have their own apartment or house to prevent them from becoming homeless. This type of assistance helps with past due rent, mortgage, or utility bills.

Example include:

  • ESG Homeless Prevention
  • HOPWA Short-Term Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Assistance (STRMU)
  • Other Financial Assistance or Temporary Financial Aid Programs (e.g., assistance provided by churches and other faith-based organizations)
Housing Placement Provides help for you to get into new housing (when you move-in). This can include things like rental application fees, security deposits, first and last month’s rent, utility connection fees, and utility deposits. Depending on the program, it may or may not include moving costs (like moving company, truck rental, storage costs, etc.)

Types of Housing - by Design

Type of Housing Description
Multi-Family Dwellings This housing is designed for many families to live on the property where each family only has exclusive use of the portion of the property (unit) that they are leasing or own (for example, apartments, condominiums, lofts, and co-ops).
Single Family Dwellings A single family dwelling refers to a dwelling (house) on a property designed to be occupied by only one family.
Single Room Occupancy (SRO) An SRO unit is a single room designed to house only one person at a time. It may be smaller than a typical bedroom, and may only include a bed and storage space for personal belongings. An SRO unit provides living and sleeping space for the exclusive use of the tenant, but requires the tenant to share bathroom and/or kitchen areas.
Manufactured Home (or Mobile Home) A manufactured home is a mobile home that is connected to permanent utility hookups, is located on land is owned by the home owner or on land at which he/she leases a space (such as a mobile home park), and is attached to real property (with a permanent foundation). This includes mobile homes, but excludes motor homes, trailers, recreational vehicles or RVs, and other like vehicles with wheels on the ground.
Boarding Homes, Rooming Houses, or Group Homes A boarding (or rooming) house is an establishment primarily engaged in renting rooms, with or without board, on a long-term basis. A rooming house typically provides only for the rental of rooms, while a boarding house provides meals and may offer such amenities as maid service and laundry service. A boarding or rooming house may be a single family dwelling or a larger structure in which the owner rents out rooms to multiple families. They may be a lease. Group homes tend to look like boarding homes, but they are typically a state-licensed facility intended for occupancy by elderly persons and/or persons with disabilities.
Hotel or Motel (including extended stay) A hotel or motel is an establishment primarily engaged in renting rooms for overnight stays for a short period of time, but can be extended stays. The customer typically does not have a written lease or occupancy agreement for the space.
Shared Housing People who have a roommate are said to be living in “shared housing.” For example, if you share your 2-bedroom apartment with another person who is not part of your family, then you are living in shared housing – meaning there are two families living there, you and your roommate. This is important because, if you seek help with your housing expenses, a program will likely only assist you with your part of the expenses, not your roommate’s part.