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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



Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA)

The CSHA was a joint Commonwealth-State arrangement which assisted both renters and purchasers obtain appropriate accommodation. It was mainly concerned with the provision of public housing but did provide funding for other types of tenure as well, including community housing, crisis accommodation, Aboriginal rental housing, private rental support and home ownership support.

Community housing

A form of social housing assistance that is managed, or owned and managed, by not-for-profit community housing providers where access and rent is determined on tenant income and sometimes other eligibility criteria.

Also see social housing

Community housing organisation (CHO) or Community housing provider (CHP)

A not-for-profit organisation that provides safe, secure, affordable and appropriate rental housing, including social housing for or low income housing that is rented at a discount to market rents. Community housing can cover short, medium and long term tenancies. Community housing providers may include housing cooperatives, housing associations and other community service organisations

Community land trust

A form of shared ownership of a property, where the land component of a residential property is owned by a community based, not-for-profit legal entity and the actual building is owned (or leased long-term) by an individual household.

Complex need

Sometimes also referred to as multiple needs, complex needs is a term used to refer to people who experience various combinations of mental illness, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, physical disability, behavioural difficulties, homelessness, social isolation, family dysfunction, and drug and/or alcohol misuse. They have often been involved with many services since childhood, including child protection and juvenile justice. People who have complex needs require high levels of health, welfare and other community based services.

Congregate supportive housing

Multi-unit housing designed to cater for the support needs of residents. Congregate supportive housing models, like Common Ground, provide support services on-site and have shared communal facilities.

Couch surfing

Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

The peak intergovernmental forum in Australia, comprising the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association. It started on 1 April 1992 and ceased on 29 May 2020, being replaced by the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) with National Cabinet to remain at the centre of the NFRC.

Crisis accommodation

Emergency and temporary accommodation provided as part of the specialist homelessness services accommodation in Australia.


A measure used to decide if a dwelling is of an adequate size and configuration to meet the needs of the occupant household. Overcrowding is a situation where a household does not have enough space to accommodate all its members adequately or where this results in occupants experiencing stress of various kinds. In Australia, overcrowding is usually defined to occur where a household needs any number of additional bedrooms to meet the Canadian National Occupancy standard. Households requiring three extra bedrooms to meet the CNOS are classified as overcrowded. Using the CNOS measure, the ABS identifies households needing four or more additional bedrooms as severely overcrowded and counts these as being homeless.


Demand side assistance

Forms of housing assistance given to consumers, not providers, of housing to help them meet their housing requirements (e.g. Commonwealth Rent Assistance).

Also see supply side assistance

Detached home / dwelling

A self-contained residential dwelling that is not attached to another separately owned or managed dwelling or building.

Development contributions

Payments or in-kind works, facilities or services required to be provided by developers as part of the legal approval process for their development; often these payments contribute to covering the costs of additional infrastructure required to meet the future needs of the community.

Digital Twin

Visualisation technology that aggregates data and digital models from a wide range of sources to generate a 3D and 4D model of a city, building or precinct. This can be used for planning and modelling purposes.

Direct housing assistance

Includes public and community housing, home purchase and home ownership assistance, Indigenous housing, State and Territory rental assistance (such as State and Territory provided bond loans, guarantees and assistance with rent payments and advance rent payments, relocation expenses and other one-off grants) and Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA).

Disability Support Pension

Domestic and family violence (DFV)

More specifically, domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship; while family violence may occur between family members, including child/parent/elder abuse, or through foster care relationships. DFV includes forms of physical, emotional, psychological, economic and sexual abuse.


The process by which a household moves from one dwelling to another that may be either smaller in size or of lower value, or both. The concept of downsizing is usually applied to older Australians when they move prior to or during their retirement.

Dual occupancy

Dual occupancy is when two homes exist on one title of land. This can mean that two or more separate properties are built on the same block of land. It can also mean building a whole new dwelling next to or behind an existing home.

Dwelling Type

A dwelling is a structure which is intended to have people live in it. Private dwellings can take a number of very different types or forms, such as being a detached house, apartment, unit or town house, and can also include a caravan, houseboat, tent, a residence attached to an office or rooms above a shop. Non-private dwellings include places that provide communal accommodation such as aged care and retirement villages with supported nursing care.