Glossary of Terms

2-1-1 Infoline This is a free, one-stop health- and human-service helpline sponsored by the United Way. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Specialists help pinpoint problems and then refer callers to an appropriate local service provider. Callers can receive assistance with: utilities, food, housing, child care, after-school programs, elder care, and crisis intervention. To reach a housing specialist, select option 3 and then option 1. Visit 211 online

8-30 (g) A Connecticut state law designed to encourage the development of more affordable housing. It allows a developer to override a local zoning decision in order to construct affordable housing for working-class and low-income individuals and families. Read more

Affordable Housing Rental or owned housing for which a household pays no more than 30 percent of their income. It is sometimes referred to as Workforce Housing.

ALICE (an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). These are households that have earnings above the Federal Poverty Level, but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. Despite working hard, these households struggle to pay their rent. Connecticut United Way has studied this demographic and describes what life is like for Connecticut’s ALICE population. Read the report

Area Median Income (AMI) The amount of household income below which half of all households (in a certain area) earns, and above which the other half earns. AMIs are officially estimated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are used to determine eligibility for government housing programs. HUD adjusts AMI depending on family size, so family income may be expressed as a percentage of the AMI. For example, to qualify for certain housing, a family’s income must equal 80 percent of AMI, a common maximum income level set for HUD programs.

Balance of State  An organizational structure mandated by HUD — made up of community service providers, public housing authorities, nonprofit organizations, and local and state governments — that must be in place for states to receive homeless assistance funding. Our region, Middlesex County, Meriden and Wallingford, is a subgroup of Connecticut’s Balance of State and receives HUD funding through this structure.

Chronic Homelessness An individual or family who has been continuously homeless for a year or more; or a disabled individual who has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. On any given night, approximately 20 percent of people who are homeless fall into this category.

Community Care Team A team — consisting of hospital staff as well as behavioral health, health, and social service agencies — that is focused on improving health outcomes, the care experience, and reducing unnecessary healthcare expenditures. This team works most closely with frequent users of hospital emergency rooms, who have behavioral health and/or substance abuse diagnoses, and who typically have unstable or no housing. Their work in combination with stable housing for those who are chronically homeless can significantly reduce tax-payer expense for emergency room visits.

Continuum of Care (CoC) A collaborative funding and planning approach that helps communities plan for and provide a full range of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing and related resources to address the specific needs of a homeless person. In our region, The Continuum of Care functions within the Balance of State structure.

Coordinated Access Network (CAN) A network of service providers working together to streamline individuals’ and families’ access to housing assistance. This includes a standardized assessment and referral process to community resources within a geographic region. Our CAN encompasses Middlesex County, Meriden and Wallingford. Individuals and families seeking service should call 2-1-1 to connect to the CAN system and start the assessment process. Select option 3 and then option 1 to reach a trained housing specialist. See how the CAN works.

Functional Zero This measure of homelessness is reached when the number of individuals who are homeless — whether sheltered or unsheltered — is no greater than the monthly housing placement rate for military veterans. In other words, functional zero occurs when there is no waitlist for housing services and episodes of homelessness are brief and nonrecurring. Learn more

Homeless Person / Family Those who (1) lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, or (2) are residing in a place not meant for human habitation, or (3) currently reside in emergency shelter or transitional housing for the homeless, or (4) are being discharged from a residential program with no place to live, or (5) are fleeing a domestic violence situation.

Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) A statewide database that is Congressionally mandated and funded through HUD. The database collects demographic data on people utilizing housing services, as well as information on service needs and usage. The data is used to evaluate and improve housing services.

Housing Choice Voucher Program This is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Eligible families are free to choose any private rental housing that meets the requirements of the program. Vouchers are funded through HUD and are administered locally by over 40 public housing agencies (PHAs) and statewide by the Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH). Read more

Housing First A proven approach in which people experiencing homelessness are offered permanent housing with few to no treatment preconditions, behavioral contingencies, or barriers. It is based on overwhelming evidence that all people experiencing homelessness can achieve stability in permanent housing if provided with the appropriate levels of services. Study after study has shown that Housing First yields higher housing retention rates, reduces the use of crisis services and visits to institutions, such as hospitals, and improves people’s health and social outcomes.

Inclusionary Zoning This requires a given share of new residential construction to be affordable by people with low to moderate incomes.

Permanent Supportive Housing provides long-term subsidized housing, health care, and supportive services for individuals who have several barriers to housing (such as a disability or an addiction) and who would otherwise be homeless.

Point in Time Count (PIT Count) A one-day snapshot of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals and families across the United States. HUD requires that each Continuum of Care conduct a count at the end of January every year. In Connecticut, regions conduct their counts in the same way, at the same time, so findings can be compared across communities and over years. Most recent point-in-time counts show a dramatic decrease in homelessness in Connecticut. View statistics.

Rapid Rehousing An approach that focuses on moving individuals and families that are homeless into appropriate housing as soon as possible. This assistance is time-limited, and can include financial support — such as a security deposit or short-term rental subsidy — and light case management.

Section 8 Housing A federally funded program for assisting very-low-income families to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Eligible families are free to choose any private rental housing that meets the requirements of the program.

Shelter Diversion A strategy designed to prevent people in need of housing assistance from entering an emergency shelter by helping them identify immediate alternate housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services. Diversion programs can reduce the number of families becoming homeless, the demand for shelter beds, and the size of program wait lists. This approach is an important part of the Coordinated Access Network efforts, particularly for families. Shelter diversion can include: financial assistance to maintain current housing; conflict resolution and mediation to return to existing housing; or assistance to locate and secure new housing through financial assistance and advocacy.

Single Room Occupancy (SRO) A type of housing in which one or two people are housed in individual rooms and share bathrooms, kitchens and common space, similar to a dormitory. If managed well, it can be a part of creating affordable housing options in a community.

Situational Homelessness This is when someone is forced to live without housing due to a specific and temporary emergency, such as a natural disaster, job loss, or death of a primary income earner. Typically, a person affected by this type of homelessness can return to permanent housing with minimal assistance. On any given night, approximately 80 percent of people who are homeless fall into this category.

Security Deposit Guarantee Program This helps eligible households — currently residing in emergency housing or shelters — transition to permanent housing by guaranteeing payment to the landlord of up to two months’ rent (instead of a direct security deposit payment). The CT Department of Social Services covers the cost, in part or in full, if the tenant moves and there is damage requiring repair, or back rent owed. Read the law

Supportive Housing An approach that helps people who have been homeless for a long time and who have special needs, such as a disability, maintain housing. It provides permanent (time unlimited) affordable housing along with support services suited to the person’s needs.

Transit Oriented Development A type of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office and retail space, and/or other amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood and located within a half-mile of quality public transportation, such as a bus or train station.

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) This program combines rental assistance with case management and clinical services for homeless veterans. The program is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and services are delivered at VA medical centers and community-based outreach clinics. Read more

VISPDAT (Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool) This is the pre-screening tool used by our Coordinated Access Network to quickly assess the health and social needs of homeless persons. Results of the VISPDAT allow specialists to match needs with the most appropriate support and housing interventions.

Wrap Around Services An intensive, holistic method of assisting individuals with complex needs (most typically children, youth, and their families) so they can live in their homes and communities and realize their full potential. It connects people to all appropriate services in the community.

Youth Homelessness These are youths who have no secure ‘rights of tenancy’ (for themselves or through a parent/guardian). Examples include youth living in shelters, transitional housing programs, couch surfing, doubled up, in hotels or motels, in parks, on the streets, in cars, in abandoned buildings, or other places not fit for human habitation. Youth homelessness is increasing in Connecticut and special programs to reach this population are being developed. Learn more