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The purpose of this glossary is to define terms commonly used in our research as well as in housing, homelessness, urban and cities policy. It is a useful reference to help you familiarise you with housing-specific terms used across our publications and on our website.

This glossary is limited to terms and acronyms most used by Australian academics and governments.

If there is a term you would like to see included in the AHURI Glossary, please contact us at



Accessible housing

Housing that includes features such as wheelchair access ramp, grab rails and other adjustments that enable use by people either with a disability or to assist in transitioning through their life stages.

Active transport

This includes all forms of transport that require physical activity for movement, including cycling, walking and other non-motorised forms.

Affordable housing

Housing offered at a below market price, whether this be rent (e.g. public housing, community housing, private rental housing) or home ownership. Affordable housing is targeted at very low-to moderate-income households and is priced to be affordable to them. Usually this means that housing costs should not exceed 30 per cent of gross household income.

Age Pension


The clustering of business activities, skilled labour and the resulting knowledge ‘spillovers’ which occur in cities and particular locations within them is referred to urban agglomeration.

Asset means test

Asset register

A compilation of all business assets including details on assets such as location, condition, and owner. The purpose of an asset register is to understand the status, procurement date, location, price, depreciation, and current value of each asset.

At risk of homelessness

A person experiencing housing instability or exposed to several individual or structural risk factors, including low-income, mental ill-health or housing unaffordability, that may cause homelessness.

See homelessness


Bond aggregator

A government backed entity designed to aggregate and source large amounts of capital from the bond market so as to provide lower interest, long-term loans to not-for-profit community housing providers developing housing for lower income households. The intention is that money would be raised efficiently with reduced financing costs rather than in expensive one-off transactions such as when borrowing from a bank. The benefits of a bond aggregator are that it is relatively simple and transparent; minimises the impact of debt on government budgets; provides lower cost finance to community housing providers; and therefore, is likely to maximise the sustainable expansion of affordable housing stock.

Bond assistance

Programs to help low income renters fund their rental bonds when moving into a new private rental sector dwelling. All Australian states and territories offer a number of different Rent Assistance schemes to help low-income households in the private rental market. Bond assistance loans are interest-free loans for part or full rental bond and advance rent. Some states require fortnightly repayments starting immediately, others only require that the bond be repaid at the end of the tenancy.


Urban land that was previously used for non-residential purposes, usually with an industrial, commercial or public use zoning, and often requiring remediation of contaminated soil and from other forms of pollution. Typically located in the inner- and middle-ring suburbs, brownfield sites are considered for mid-to large-scale urban renewal projects, including housing, commercial and mixed-use developments.

Build to rent

The process whereby developers and their financiers build multi-unit buildings and, instead of selling the units, retain them to rent to tenant households. Rents may be set at market rates or, for affordable housing, an appropriate discount to market rents could be offered with appropriate government support to make up the funding gap.

Built form

An architecture and planning term referring to the shape and configuration of buildings.


Capital gains tax (CGT)

The tax paid to government on the profit received when a property is sold for more than it cost to buy. In Australia, CGT is paid on investment properties and not on a taxpayer’s primary residence property. In addition, if the property had been owned by an investor for more than 12 months, only 50 per cent of the nominal capital gain (i.e. after allowing for associated costs that weren’t otherwise claimable) is included as assessable income to be taxed at the individual’s rate of taxation. This tax discount encourages investors to buy houses to get capital gains benefits rather than rental yield that, like money earned from a bank deposit or as dividends from shares, is taxed at 100 per cent of the investor's rate of income tax.

Case management

A service delivery approach now widely adopted in diverse settings in the human services and health sectors. The Case Management Society of Australia uses the following definition of case management: ‘Case management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s holistic needs through communication and available resources to promote quality cost-effective outcomes.’

Circular economy

An economic system that calls for production and consumption processes to function within a closed environmentally sustainable loop whereby the lifecycle of the product is extended. The concept of a circular economy typically draws on the following principles: reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery of materials. The objective is to achieve sustainable development based on environmental quality, economic prosperity and social and intergenerational equity.

City Deal

A strategic place-based intervention facilitated by formal partnership agreements between the different levels of government (Commonwealth, state and local), the private sector and local communities. In Australia, City Deals are initiated by the Commonwealth government and typically involve a 10- to 15-year commitment. Their main function is to facilitate urban transformation and stimulate economic investment in infrastructure and other urban facilities.


A community of homes with shared common facilities that are managed and maintained by community members.

Common Ground

A supportive housing model that integrates housing with on-site support services in a congregate setting. The target cohort of Common Ground projects are people with experience of chronic homelessness that have high and complex needs and low-income households. Housing and support provision are informed by Housing First principles, including access to permanent housing for tenants, supporting them to maintain their tenancy and address their support needs. Engagement with services is voluntary and not a condition of tenancy.

Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA)

A non-taxable income supplement paid by the Commonwealth Government to eligible people who rent in the private rental market or community housing. It is available to renters who receive a social security payment (more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A), a service pension or income support supplement. CRA is calculated at the rate of 75 cents for every dollar of rent payable above the rent threshold until the maximum threshold rate of payment is reached. Rent thresholds and maximum rates vary according to family situation and the number of children.