Glossary of Terms

A glossary of terms, definitions and terminology surrounding issues and governance around homelessness referred to in Homeless Strategic Initiatives (HSI) commissioned reports.

The state of having no home or permanent place of residence. (
Situational Homelessness
This subset of periodically or episodically homeless often have had disadvantaged lives leaving them at greater risk of homelessness.They may hold less stable jobs. Rent consumes a significant portion of their budget. They may have few financial buffers or savings to protect them in case of emergencies.This group experiences homelessness episodically but often for short periods of time.
Chronic Homelessness
A homeless individual with a disability as defined in section 401(9) of the McKinney-Vento Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11360(9)), who:

  • Lives in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or in an emergency shelter, and
  • Has been homeless and living as described for at least 12 months* or on at least 4 separate occasions in the last 3 years, as long as the combined occasions equal at least 12 months and each break in homelessness separating the occasions included at least 7 consecutive nights of not living as described.
  • An individual who has been residing in an institutional care facility for less, including jail, substance abuse or mental health treatment facility, hospital, or other similar facility, for fewer than 90 days and met all of the criteria of this definition before entering that facility**; or
  • A family with an adult head of household (or, if there is no adult in the family, a minor head of household) who meets all of the criteria of this definition, including a family whose composition has fluctuated while the head of household has been homeless.
*A “break” in homeless is considered to be 7 or more nights.
**An individual residing in an institutional care facility does not constitute a break in homelessness.
Literally Homeless
Federal Agency of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definitions of homelessness.

Individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, which includes one of the following:

Place not meant for human habitation 

Living in a shelter (Emergency shelter, hotel/motel paid by government or charitable organization) 

Exiting an institution (where they resided for 90 days or less AND were residing in emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering institution)

Imminent Risk of Homelessness
Individual or family who will imminently (within 14 days) lose their primary nighttime residence, which includes all of the following:

  • Have no subsequent residence identified AND lack the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing
  • Unaccompanied youth (under 25 years of age) or families with children and youth who meet the homeless definition under other another federal statute and includes all of the following:
  • Have not had lease, ownership interest, or occupancy agreement in permanent housing at any time during last 60 days 
  • Have experienced two or more moves during last 60 days
  • Can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time because of: chronic disabilities, OR chronic physical health or mental health conditions, OR substance addiction, OR histories of domestic violence or childhood abuse (including neglect) OR presence of a child or youth with a disability, OR two or more barriers to employment
  • Individuals/families fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or family member and includes ALL of the following:
  • Have no identified residence, resources or support networks 
  • Lack the resources and support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing
  • Individuals or families who meet the HUD homeless definitions may be eligible for benefits or programs. For example, to be eligible for housing restricted to the chronically homelessness must meet the HUD definition of chronically homeless. Record keeping data submitted to HUD require these categorical definitions be used with the populations served.
Continuum of Care (CoC) Program
Counting and Data Collection

The Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is federal program designed to promote community wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, and State and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness; promote access to and effect utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families; and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Point in Time (PIT) Count
Counting and Data Collection

The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. HUD requires that Continuums of Care conduct an annual count of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night. Continuums of Care also must conduct a count of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness every other year (odd numbered years). Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally.
The Housing Inventory Count (HIC)
Counting and Data Collection
Is 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) Shelter; Transitional Housing; Rapid Re-housing; Safe Haven; and Permanent Supportive Housing.
Emergency Shelter
Any facility, the primary purpose of which is to provide a temporary shelter for the homeless which does not require occupants to sign leases or occupancy agreements
Low Barrier Shelters
A minimum number of expectations or requirements are placed on shelter guests. Low barrier shelters aim to entice more individuals off the streets by eliminating barriers and offering supportive services.
High Barrier Shelters
Requirements may include a criminal background check, an income, a pledge to change behavior, for example use no alcohol or drugs/some may require drug testing, meet curfews, participate in life skills classes, work at the shelter or in another business or volunteer capacity. Other barriers may include taking prescribed medications, meeting with support services or a case manager.
Temporary Shelter
Means any emergency, transitional or temporary shelter provided to individuals and/or families experiencing homelessness by any federal, state, faith-based, or private agency.(wide variety of definitions exist here. Also may mean up to 30 people for not to exceed 62 days…)
Congregate Shelter
Means all shelters for adults, small-capacity shelters, shelters for adult families, and shelters for families.
Congregate Housing
Often intended for elderly persons or persons with disabilities. Congregate housing contains a shared central kitchen, dining area and a private living area for the individual household of at least a living room, bedroom and bathroom. (
Navigation Centers
Temporary room and board with limited barriers to entry while case managers work to connect homeless individuals and families to income, public benefits, health services, permanent housing or other shelter (California definition from 2018 legislation)
Sanctioned Camping
Places where unhoused folks can pitch a tent and live without the threat of law enforcement telling them to leave. They may have varying degrees of services, from basic sanitation like porta-potties, to on-site case management. Portland, Oregon plans for 6 encampments in the city to be set up. (NPR story 5/4/2023)
Unsanctioned Camping
Unhoused folks camping in areas not designated as campsites. These campsites are subject to law enforcement actions and sweeps where their possessions are collected and removed from their campsite.
Transitional or Supportive Housing
Can help stabilize people with mental health issues and substance use disorders who are experiencing homelessness. Transitional housing typically involves a temporary residence of up to 24 months with wrap around services to help people stabilize their lives.(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/SAMHSA)
Rental Assistance
Allow a person to find their own private housing to rent. They may pay all or a portion of the rent. These are Section 8 vouchers. Section 8 was part of the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act. One goal was to insure that people with low income could find, “decent housing and a suitable living environment” outside of public housing units.( and propublica website)
Subsidized Housing
Government pays apartment owners to offer reduced rents to clients with low incomes. (
Public Housing Projects
Are built for low income tenants, who may also be disabled or elderly. (
Rapid Rehousing
Rapid rehousing provides short term rental assistance and services. Goals are to help people attain housing quickly, increase self sufficiency, and stay housed. It is sometimes offered without preconditions (sobriety, income, absence of a criminal record and employment) and the resources and services provided are typically tailored to individuals. (
Rapid Rehousing for individuals/RRH-1
A federal short term program to assist homeless individuals for affordable permanent housing. Clients receive a subsidy for up to 12 months based on need and moving assistance, rent and security deposits, bedding and household supplies, assistance with utilities, case management services to address individually identified goals. The client is expected to meet with their case manager to discuss goals and plans at least four times a month. Activily participate in a housing search.  Pay 30% of your monthly gross income toward housing payments. Provide income verification. Pay your portion of rent and utilities on time.(
Affordable Housing
Means that the rent is structured so that the targeted tenant population pays no more than 30 percent of their gross household income for rent and utilities.
MFI: Median Family Income
(MFI), is the household income for the median/'middle' household in a given region. Thus, if you were to line up each household from poorest to wealthiest, the household in the very middle would be considered the median

The national median household income is $70,784, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey data for 2021. Median household income varies broadly by location, ranging from under $40,000 in some cities, to over $150,000 in others. 

The average annual household income in Portland is $106,948, while the median household income sits at $78,476 per year. Residents aged 25 to 44 earn $88,057, while those between 45 and 64 years old have a median wage of $86,643. 
Permanent Supportive housing (PSH):
According to HUD, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is permanent housing in which housing assistance (e.g., long-term leasing or rental assistance) and supportive services are provided to assist households with at least one member (adult or child) with a disability in achieving housing stability.

According to the Oregon Housing Development Office, PSH Units must serve households earning at or below 60% County Area Median Income (AMI) and are chronically homeless based on a region's CoC definition of “chronically homeless". PSH Projects must also utilize their region's Coordinated Entry system to identify residents for PSH units.
Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
According to the National Institute of Health, Substance use disorder (SUD) is a treatable mental disorder that affects a person's brain and behavior, leading to their inability to control their use of substances like legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications. Symptoms can be moderate to severe, with addiction being the most severe form of SUD.
Drug Rehabilitation (Rehab)
In basic terms, rehabilitation describes the process in which various therapeutic protocols are employed to effectively treat a person who is dependent on a particular addictive substance.
Recovery is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. Even people with severe and chronic substance use disorders can, with help, overcome their illness and regain health and social function. This is called remission. Being in recovery is when those positive changes and values become part of a voluntarily adopted lifestyle. While many people in recovery believe that abstinence from all substance use is a cardinal feature of a recovery lifestyle, others report that handling negative feelings without using substances and living a contributive life are more important parts of their recovery.
Mental Health Disorder
According to the World Health Organization, a mental disorder is characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior.  It is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. There are many different types of mental disorders.  Mental disorders may also be referred to as mental health conditions. The latter is a broader term covering mental disorders, psychosocial disabilities and (other) mental states associated with significant distress, impairment in functioning, or risk of self-harm.
A severe mental condition in which thought and emotions are so affected that contact is lost with external reality.

Behavioral warning signs for psychosis include:

  • Suspiciousness, paranoid ideas, or uneasiness with others.
  • Trouble thinking clearly and logically.
  • Withdrawing socially and spending a lot more time alone.
  • Unusual or overly intense ideas, strange feelings, or a lack of feelings.
  • Decline in self-care or personal hygiene.
a powerful opioid drug used in the treatment of severe pain. The fentanyl category of opioids accounted for 67,325 preventable deaths in 2021, representing a 26% increase over the 53,480 total in 2020.

In Multnomah County, home to Portland, more than 60% of the county's 271 opioid overdoses in 2021 involved fentanyl, according to the Tri-County Opioid Safety Coalition. That year, fentanyl also contributed to a record number of homeless deaths in Portland
Harm Reduction
Harm reduction services save lives by being available and accessible in a manner that emphasizes the need for humility and compassion toward people who use drugs. Harm reduction plays a significant role in preventing drug-related deaths and increasing access to healthcare, social services, and treatment. These services decrease overdose fatalities, acute life-threatening infections related to unsterile drug injection, and chronic diseases (such as HIV and hepatitis C)

Harm Reduction offers an opportunity to reach people who aren’t otherwise accessing healthcare services ― and offer them naloxone to reverse an overdose, and help connect them to other needed services. As an example, treatment services (such as medications for opioid use disorder) can be co-located with harm reduction services and offered as an option.
Measure 110
In November 2020, Oregon voters passed by referendum Measure 110, or the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. Now, instead of facing misdemeanor possession charges, defendants will be charged with a violation. This requires them to pay a $100 fine and is not a criminal charge. There is no risk of jail time with a violation. The violations give people a choice to call a statewide hotline to complete a screening for a substance abuse disorder or pay the $100 fine.

The Oregon Judicial Department says law enforcement officers have issued about 4,450 citations since the law began. Southern Oregon’s Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties have the largest numbers of cases, the data shows.

According to Lines for Life, which staffs the violation hotline, just 189 people have completed a screening (to eliminate their fee of $100) since the program launched. Of those, 94 wanted a letter showing they had met the citation’s requirements. Another 49 told call takers they were already receiving some treatment services and 46 said they were not in any treatment and wanted help. (Roughly 1% asking for help)

Calling the number is one way to resolve the ticket. Paying a fine is the other. State data shows most people who are cited ignore both.
Supportive Housing Services Measure
A measure expected to generate revenue of around $2.5 billion over ten years in the Portland metro region. These funds will “Provide for the much-needed wraparound services to help reduce homelessness across greater Portland. The program provides services for as many as 5,000 people experiencing prolonged homelessness with complex disabilities, and as many as 10,000 households experiencing short-term homelessness or at risk of homelessness.”

Supportive housing services are funded by two taxes: A 1% marginal personal income tax on taxable income above $125,000 for individuals and $200,000 for those filing jointly, and. A 1% business income tax on net income for businesses with gross receipts above $5 million.

Currently the SHS funds are divided amongst the three counties by percentages.  Multnomah county has the highest rate of homeless residents with
Supported Employment
Supported Employment (SE) is an approach to vocational rehabilitation for people with serious mental illnesses, behavioral health disabilities or physical disabilities,  that emphasizes helping them obtain competitive work in the community and providing the support necessary to ensure their success in the workplace.
Coordinated Entry System
The Coordinated Entry System is a process that assesses and matches eligible households to housing opportunities. Housing opportunities include rapid re-housing, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing. Coordinated Entry is a centralized way for people to access certain homelessness resources, to have a coordinated entry into housing. It is mandated by the federal government as a prerequisite to applying for federal grants for housing resources, since 2018. For example, if you have a disability, your score may be higher. Housing goes to people with higher scores.

The way it works is that people choose from a small number of coordinated entry sites and get assessed. Based on the assessment rating, the system prioritizes who is worst off, and therefore most in need, and then the system is supposed to connect them with housing. The number of people who are considered the worst off is dictated by the number of housing units or subsidies available.
Portland Street Response
Portland Street Response was established as a program within Portland Fire & Rescue in 2020 as an unarmed response to mental health crises or 911 calls related to people experiencing homelessness. The idea was to reduce over-policing of homeless Portlanders by dispatching mental health experts, social workers, or physicians to certain 911 calls. The program was modeled after a decades-old Eugene program called CAHOOTS, a nonprofit-run crisis response effort.

Portland Street Response gained attention during the racial justice protests of 2020 as a viable alternative to local police work. This momentum led Portland City Council to boost the program’s inaugural budget with an additional $4.8 million cut from the Portland Police Bureau.

A pilot program launched in February 2021, with a single team of two community health workers, one mental health therapist and a paramedic responding to calls in Southeast Portland’s Lents neighborhood. In April 2022, the program expanded citywide, and now dispatches up to six four-person teams across Portland daily
Boise vs Martin
A 2018 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in response to a 2009 lawsuit by six homeless plaintiffs against the city of Boise, Idaho regarding the city's anti-camping ordinance. The ruling held that cities cannot enforce anti-camping ordinances if they do not have enough homeless shelter beds available for their homeless population. It did not necessarily mean a city cannot enforce any restrictions on camping on public property.  The decision was based on the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Master Lease
A master lease is a type of lease that gives the lessee the right to control and sublease the property during the lease, while the owner retains the legal title. In this case, a housing authority or service provider would be the lessee, allowing them to sublease the property to its clients.
Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist. This means that it attaches to opioid receptors and reverses and blocks the effects of other opioids. Naloxone can quickly restore normal breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped because of an opioid overdose. But, naloxone has no effect on someone who does not have opioids in their system, and it is not a treatment for opioid use disorder. Examples of opioids include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, and morphine.  The brand name is Narcan.



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Homeless Strategic Initatives
Portland, OR

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