Glossary of Terms

Annual Performance Report (APR)

Report that tracks program progress and accomplishments in HUD`s competitive homeless assistance programs. The APR provides the grantee and HUD with information necessary to assess each grantee`s performance.

Bed Utilization

An indicator of whether shelter beds are occupied on a particular night or over a period of time.

Chronic Homelessness

A condition where an individual or family experiences homelessness for a year or longer or has multiple episodes of homelessness over a period of several years.

Chronically Homeless Individuals

Individuals who have experienced homelessness for at least one year or more, or who have experienced multiple episodes of homelessness that total at least one year and have a disabling condition. To be considered chronically homeless, persons must have been sleeping in a place not meant for human habitation (e.g., living on the streets) and/or in an emergency homeless shelter during that time.

Client Intake

The process of collecting client information upon entrance into a program.

Client Record

A comprehensive electronic record for a homeless individual or family that includes demographic information, service history, and other relevant data.

Continuum of Care (CoC)

A network of organizations designated by HUD to oversee homeless assistance grants from HUD in a particular geographic area. Each CoC coordinates with homeless assistance agencies in its area to produce annual plans identifying the needs of local homeless populations, the resources currently available in the community to address those needs, and any gaps in resources that could be filled with additional funding.

Data Entry

The process of inputting information into the HMIS database, often performed by service providers or data entry personnel.

Data Privacy

The protection of personal and confidential information collected within an HMIS system, often through policies, procedures, and security measures that ensure data is only accessed by authorized individuals, used for its intended purposes, and kept confidential and secure.

Data Quality

The accuracy, completeness, consistency, and timeliness of data collected, entered, and reported within an HMIS system, often monitored through data validation and quality assurance processes.

Data Sharing

The process of sharing HMIS data with authorized individuals or organizations for the purpose of improving service delivery, informing policy decisions, and measuring program outcomes.

Data Standards

The guidelines and specifications for collecting, storing, and sharing HMIS data, established by HUD to ensure consistency and comparability across different programs and systems.

Disabling Condition

A disabling condition in reference to chronic homelessness is defined by HUD as a diagnosable substance use disorder, serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability, including the co-occurrence of two or more of these conditions. A disabling condition limits an individual`s ability to work or perform one or more activities of daily living.

Domestic Violence (DV)

A pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner to gain power and control over the other partner, which can also occur between family members. It can take various forms, such as physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation, and threats of violence. While emotional, psychological, and financial abuse may not be criminal behaviors, they are still forms of abuse that can lead to criminal violence. DV can range in mode, frequency, and severity, causing psychological or physical harm and the need for treatment. It is essential to recognize and address all forms of domestic violence to protect those affected and prevent further harm.

Electronic Special Needs Assistance Program (e*SNAPs)

The electronic update from HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPs) in the Office of Community Planning and Development, offers policy and program highlights, resource links, and community spotlights. The e*SNAPs update is issued bi-monthly to members of HUD’s Homeless Assistance Program.

Emergency Shelter (ES)

Any facility whose primary purpose is to provide temporary shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the homeless.

Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG)

A federal grant program designed to help improve the quality of existing emergency shelters for the homeless, to make available additional shelters, to meet the costs of operating shelters, to provide essential social services to homeless individuals, and to help prevent homelessness.

End User

Any individual who uses the HMIS software to access or input data related to homelessness services.


The process of formally admitting a client into a specific program or service offered by an organization. During the enrollment process, the client’s information is captured and recorded in the HMIS software system, and they are assigned to a program or service. This information includes client demographics, service history, case notes, and other relevant data. The enrollment process is important because it allows organizations to track the progress of a client in a particular program or service, and it helps them to make informed decisions about resource allocation and service delivery.


The process of recording a homeless client’s entry into and exit from a program or service.


Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group’s customs, beliefs, and language.

Exit Destination

The location where an individual or family moves after exiting a homeless assistance program or shelter, such as permanent housing, emergency shelter, or transitional housing.

Fair Housing

The principle that all individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, or other characteristics, have the right to access and obtain housing without discrimination.


A unique identifier assigned to everyone that is served by a homeless service agency. Also frequently referred to as Client ID.


Homeless persons are generally defined as those living in homeless facilities or in places not meant for human habitation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
categorizes the homeless into four distinct groups:

1 . Literally homeless – People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided. People exiting an institution are considered homeless under this category if they resided in the institution for 90 days or less and were in shelter or a place not meant for human habitation immediately prior to entering that institution.

2. At imminent risk of being homeless – People who will lose their primary nighttime residence within 1 4 days and lack resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.

3. Homeless under other federal statute – Unaccompanied youth or families with children who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state. This category applies to those who have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment.

4. Fleeing domestic violence – People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, have no other residence, and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.

Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)

A database that contains information on homeless individuals and families that can be used to track and monitor services, improve service delivery, and inform policy and funding decisions.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs that improve and develop the Nation’s communities and enforce fair housing laws. HUD’s business is helping create a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans, and it has given America’s cities a strong national voice at the Cabinet level.

Housing First

An approach to ending homelessness that prioritizes providing immediate access to permanent housing, without preconditions or barriers to entry.

Housing Inventory Count (HIC)

A point-in-time inventory of provider programs within a Continuum of Care that provide beds and units dedicated to serve people experiencing homelessness (and, for permanent housing projects, where homeless at entry, per the HUD homeless definition), categorized by five Program Types: Emergency Shelter; Transitional Housing; Rapid Re-housing; Safe Haven; and Permanent Supportive Housing.

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)

Established by HUD to address the specific needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families. HOPWA makes grants to local communities, States, and nonprofit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Housing Status

A categorization of an individual or family’s housing situation, such as literally homeless, at risk of homelessness, or housed.


The process of gathering information about a new client or household and entering that information into the system. This process typically involves collecting demographic information, income and eligibility data, and other relevant details. The intake process is an important part of the data collection process for homeless service providers and is often the first step in providing services to clients. The information gathered during the intake process is used to create a client record in the HMIS system, which can be used to track the client’s progress and outcomes over time.

McKinney-Vento Act

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1987. The McKinney-Vento Act funds numerous programs providing a range of services to homeless people, including the Continuum of Care programs: the Supportive Housing Program, the Shelter Plus Care Program, and the Single Room Occupancy Program, as well as the Emergency Shelter Grant Program.


The process of identifying and engaging homeless individuals and families who are not currently accessing services or programs.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

Long-term, community-based housing that has supportive services for homeless persons with disabilities. This type of supportive housing enables the special needs populations to live independently as possible in a permanent setting. Permanent housing can be provided in one structure or in several structures at one site or in multiple structures at scattered sites.

Personal Protected Information (PPI)

Information that can be used to uniquely identify, contact or locate a single person, or may enable disclosure of personal information.

Point in Time (PIT)

A snapshot of the homeless population taken on a given day. Since 2005, HUD requires all CoC applicants to complete this count every other year in the last week of January. This count includes a street count in addition to a count of all clients in emergency and transitional beds.

Privacy and Confidentiality

The protection of personal and sensitive information in the HMIS database, in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations.

Privacy Notice

A written, public statement of an agency’s privacy practices. A notice informs clients of how personal information is used and disclosed. According to the HMIS Data and Technical Standard, all covered homeless organizations must have a privacy notice.


Identification within six racial categories: American Indian, Alaska Native, or Indigenous; Asian or Asian American; Black, African American, or African; Middle Eastern or North African; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; White.

Rapid Re-housing (RRH)

A type of housing intervention that provides short-term rental assistance and supportive services to quickly move individuals and families from homelessness to stable housing.


The process in HMIS of referring a homeless individual or family to a specific service or program that can best meet their needs, often based on an assessment of their situation.

Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY)

Youth who are under 18 and homeless, at risk of homelessness, or who have run away from home due to abuse or neglect.

Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (RHYMIS)

An automated information tool designed to capture data on the runaway and homeless youth being served by FYSB’s Basic Center Program and Transitional Living Program for Older Homeless Youth (TLP). RHYMIS also captures information on the contacts made by the Street Outreach Program grantees and the brief service contacts made with youth or families calling the FYSB programs.

Service Provider

An organization or agency that provides services to homeless individuals or families, such as emergency shelter, transitional housing, or supportive services.

Street Outreach

A program that engages with unsheltered homeless individuals and families to provide basic needs, support, and assistance in accessing services and housing.

Supportive Housing Program (SHP)

A program that provides housing, including housing units and group quarters that has a supportive environment and includes a planned service component.

Supportive Services

Services that are provided to homeless individuals and families to help them address the underlying causes of their homelessness, such as mental health, substance abuse, or financial instability.

Supportive Services Only (SSO)

Projects that address the service needs of homeless persons. Projects are classified as this component only if the project sponsor is not also providing housing to the same persons receiving the services. SSO projects may be in a structure or operated independently of a structure, such as street outreach or mobile vans for health care.

System Administrator

An individual responsible for managing the technical aspects of the HMIS database, including security, data backups, and software updates.

System Performance Measures (SPMs)

A set of standardized metrics used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of a community’s homeless assistance system.

System User

An individual or organization authorized to access the HMIS database, often with specific permissions based on their role or responsibilities.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Provides cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Transitional Housing (TH)

A project that has its purpose facilitating the movement of homeless individuals and families to permanent housing within a reasonable amount of time (usually 24 months).

Unaccompanied Youth

Youth who are under 18 and are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian, including those living in inadequate housing such as shelters, cars, or on the streets. Also includes those who have been denied housing by their families and school-age unwed mothers who have no housing of their own.

Unduplicated Count

The number of people who are homeless within a specified location and time period. An unduplicated count ensures that individuals are counted only once regardless of the number of times they entered or exited the homeless system or the number of programs in which they participated. Congress directed HUD to develop a strategy for data collection on homelessness so that an unduplicated count of the homeless at the local level could be produced.

Universal Data Elements (UDEs)

A set of data elements that are required to be collected and reported by all HMIS-participating programs to ensure consistency and comparability of data across different programs and systems. These data elements include date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, veteran`s status, and Social Security Number (SSN). These elements are needed for CoCs to understand the basic dynamics of homelessness in their community and for HUD to meet the Congressional directive to support the LSA (Longitudinal Systems Analysis).

Veterans Affairs (VA)

A government-run military veteran benefit system. It is responsible for administering programs of veterans’ benefits for veterans, their families, and survivors. The benefits provided include disability compensation, pension, education, home loans, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, survivors’ benefits, medical benefits, and burial benefits.

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)

A collaborative program between HUD and VA combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help Veterans who are homeless and their families find and sustain permanent housing.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Programs range from policies to encourage the prosecution of abusers to victim’s services to prevention programs. VAWA helped forge new alliances between police officers, courts, and victim advocates.