Skip to main content
Glossary banner


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



Scattered site housing

Shared equity

Smart cities

Cities that make use of digital information and communication technologies while reshaping the urban fabric. Smart cities acquire appropriate data about a particular built or natural environment and use that data effectively to understand and, if appropriate, control what is happening in that place.

Social Housing

Social housing is government-subsidised short and long-term rental housing for people on low incomes, and who often have experienced homelessness, family violence or have other special needs. Social housing is made up of two types of housing: public housing, which is owned and managed by State and Territory Governments, and community housing, which is managed and often owned by not-for-profit organisations. In the housing market continuum, social housing sits between emergency accommodation and private rental.

Social housing stock transfer

Social impact bonds

A form of investment product that finances provision of key basic services. Social impact bonds are targeted at investors seeking appropriate risk-adjusted returns while also achieving valuable social outcomes.

Social landlord

Social mix/Tenure mix

Tenure mix refers to the mix of housing tenures in a particular location. The idea underpinning tenure mix policies is that a diversity of tenure types in a given area will engender socio-economic diversity that will reduce the area effects of concentrated disadvantage and engender social inclusion.

Socio-spatial polarisation

Refers broadly to the growing gap between rich and poor households in both socio-economic position (socio) and geographic location (spatial).

Spatial mismatch

Spatial mismatch is the mismatch between where low-income, working poor and underemployed households reside and suitable job opportunities for those households.

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)


Specialist homelessness services (SHS)

Specialist homelessness services, which provide the range of services to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. SHS support both those who have become homeless and those who are at imminent risk of homelessness and may comprise housing services (e.g. transitional housing) as well as support services (e.g. case management, providing access to food and medical treatment if needed).

Stamp duty

Stamp Duty is a tax imposed by State and Territory governments in Australia that arises on the sale or transfer of a wide range of personal and business related assets. The assets that attract duty vary depending on the State or Territory in which they are located but can include shares, units, land and buildings.

State owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH)

Strata title

Strata title allows individual ownership of part of a property, combined with shared ownership in the remainder (e.g. foyers, driveways, gardens) through a legal entity called the owners corporation—or body corporate, strata company or community association, depending on your state or territory of residence and the type of scheme.

Supply side assistance

Forms of housing assistance given to providers, not consumers, of housing to help increase the quantity or quality of housing (e.g. National Rental Affordability Scheme). Also see demand side assistance

Supported Accomodation Assistance Program

Provides support to people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. Clients request SAAP for a variety of reasons including mental health issues, Domestic and family violence, and financial difficulty. Accommodation is paid for or provided directly by a SAAP agency, and includes crisis or short-term accommodation, medium- to long-term accommodation or other SAAP-funded arrangements such as accommodation in hostels, motels, hotels and caravans, or community placements. The Program may also assist with other types of support, such as meals.

Supported Independent Living

Supported Independent Living is a component of the NDIS and is for people with higher support needs who need some level of help at home all the time. It includes help or supervision with daily tasks, like personal care or cooking meals.

Supportive housing

The central premise of supportive housing is to combine long-term affordable housing with support services to meet clients’ needs. What sets supportive housing apart from shelters and crisis accommodation is the permanency of supported housing. Supportive housing is purposefully designed to empower tenants and enable them to become more independent. Consequently, many supportive housing models have embedded community-building activities that aim to connect tenants with other residents and the surrounding neighbourhood.

Sustaining tenancy