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Affordable Housing Terminology Guide

It’s not always easy finding a new home. Finding the right senior housing on a fixed income can be difficult, especially when you’re not familiar with all the terms and phrases people use when discussing your options. This income-based housing terminology guide can help you learn key words and phrases that you’ll likely hear when it’s time to find you or your loved one’s new home.

Common Income-Based Housing Terms


Limits set by different income-based housing properties that require residents to be at least a certain age to live there. These limits can differ from property to property.


The various features of an independent living community that helps provide social, cultural, educational, and spiritual opportunities. Potential amenities will differ from property to property, but may include a community room, wellness center, and other features.

Application Process

The process that residents must go through to determine whether they are eligible to rent an apartment at an income-based housing property. This process includes:

  • Income and asset verification 
  • Credit, criminal, and sex offender screening
  • Medical expenses (if applicable to the program)

Average Median Income (AMI)

The average yearly income for a specific location where half of residents earn more than that income and half earn less. Median income can be broken out for individuals or families and is based on a person’s specific geographic location (ex. their city, county, etc.) to determine low- or lower-income status.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

An executive department of the U.S. federal government that provides housing support and promotes fair housing laws.

Health Services

Services provided at some income-based housing properties to care for a resident’s care needs. Residents must be capable of meeting the terms of the lease, either with or without services. No provisions are available for long-term health, convalescent, or nursing care in the community. If a resident requires services in order to comply with the terms of the lease, it is the responsibility of the resident to make the necessary arrangements. Where applicable, residents may request services through the service coordinator.

HUD Subsidized Housing

Housing subsidized by HUD in which the rent is based on and limited to 30% of the resident’s gross income.

Low Income/Lower Income

A person or family whose incomes do not exceed a set percentage of the median individual or family income for the area. According to HUD, low income is set at 80% of a person or family’s median income for their county or metropolitan area, while very low income is set at 50%

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)

A tax incentive program designed to increase the supply of quality, affordable rental housing available for people making less than the average median income (AMI).


Communities may not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, familial status, or age based upon the following Fair Housing laws: 

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
  • Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. 
  • The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.
  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs, services, and activities provided or made available by public entities. 

Tenancy is open to all qualified eligible persons in accordance with any State recognized protected classes. National Church Residences does not discriminate in any fashion based upon a person’s race, color, sex, national origin, handicap status, disability, religion, familial status, source of income, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. National Church Residences does not discriminate based upon age for any reason, excluding HUD program/project requirements.

Reasonable Accommodation

Management will provide reasonable accommodations or reasonable modifications for applicants and residents with disabilities who have a need for the accommodation/modification. Reasonable accommodation is an exception made to the usual rules or policies made necessary because of a disability that will allow the applicant or tenant to use and enjoy an apartment community. A reasonable modification is a structural change that will enable a tenant with a disability to use and enjoy an apartment community. This includes the application and tenancy period.

Resident Activities

Different activities for residents to help them stay social. Activities will vary from property to property, but can include bingo, holiday celebrations, and more.

Service Coordinator

Potential staff member who connects tenants with various benefits and social services. Not all Income-Based communities will have a service coordinator.


The process of interacting with other residents as social activity has been proven to improve mood, cognition, and more.


A list of potential residents who are waiting for apartments to become available for them to rent at a specific property. Wait times can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as room availability, location, and other circumstances. 

An applicant does not need a fully approved application to be placed on the waiting list. Seniors on the waitlist are contacted twice a year and must respond in order to remain on the waiting list.

Wellness Checks

Visits where medical staff will come on board to conduct blood pressure checks and other services to review residents’ overall wellness. This process is done from an outside medical provider and is not normally affiliated with building ownership or management.

Need help finding the right senior living option for your ideal lifestyle and care needs? Let National Church Residences help you find a place that’s right for you or your loved ones.

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National Church Residences does not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, disability, familial status, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, payment source, or any other class protected by applicable law, whether in employment or its activities, programs, or services. National Church Residences also does not discriminate based on age, except as required by government entitlements or permitted by applicable law for seniors.