Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.


Bank Deposits

A set amount of money that is deposited or placed with a specified account at a bank. 

Borrower Credit

The likelihood of a borrower to pay back a loan based on previous experience - did the borrower pay back previous loans. 

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Capital Investment Plans

A plan that prioritizes a municipality's infrastructure needs and provides a schedule and budget allocation for the needs to be met.  


A ceiling, in financial terms, refers to the maximum interest rate that a financial institution can charge a borrower. 


An asset or assets pledge by a borrower to secure a loan.  The pledged asset is subject to seizure if the borrower defaults on the loan.  The pledged asset or collateral must be of equal value to the loan.  

Condominium Law

"Home owner associations"  

Cooperative Housing Law

A law that recognizes the cooperative form of ownership with people owning shares in the property as a whole as opposed to a condominium where they own individual units and proportionate shares of the common areas .

Customary or Tribal Land Rights

Customary law refers to common rule or practices that originate from the customs and cultures of the indigenous population.  In some countries, tribal councils or tribal kings have a set of laws regarding land ownership and property rights that are recognized by their population .   

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Demand-side Subsidies

A subsidy that is directed to the resident and not the builder. In other words, the subsidy is tied to the resident and not the home allowing the resident to choose where they live.  The best example of a demand side subsidy is a housing voucher - a family is given a voucher that can be used to pay rent in a home that they choose.  

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Eminent Domain

Government power to take or seize privately owned property or land  for public use in exchange for payment of fair market value.   Governments may use the power of eminent domain to take land needed for large infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, or laying pipes, or to remove people from environmentally sensitive or unsafe land.  The household must be compensated for the land that is taken with an amount equal to the value of their property. 


A mandate that a person or persons must vacate the place where they reside on a specified date or time.   

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Gated Communities

Gated communities are residential communities that are exclusionary or segregated that have a physical barrier or guards to keep non-residents out.  


A payment made to lender if borrower defaults. 

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A person who leaves one country to reside permanently in another country .

Improved Sanitation

According to the UN, improved sanitation facilities include: flush or pour-flush to piped sewer system, septic tank or pit latrine; ventilated improved pit latrine; pit latrine with slab; and composting toilet.  Unimproved sanitation facilities include: flush or pour–flush to elsewhere ; pit latrine without slab or open pit; bucket; hanging toilet or hanging latrine; no facilities or bush or field. 

Improved Water Supply

According to the UN, improved water supply includes piped water into dwelling, plot or yard; public tap/standpipe; tube well/bore hole; protected dug well; protected spring; and rainwater collection.  Does not include unprotected dug well; unprotected spring; cart with small tank/drum; bottled water ; tanker-truck; and surface water (river, dam, lake, pond, stream, canal, irrigation channels). 

Incremental Housing

Incrementally building housing - building a home over time while in residence.  

Independent Credit Agency

An agency - usually private - that performs research on potential borrowers to see whether he or she has taken previous loans and whether he or she paid previous bills or loans in a timely manner.   The agency will develop a rating system to determine the likelihood of the borrower to pay back a loan based on his or her history.  

Indigenous People

Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system. 

Informal Settlements

Informal settlements are:

1. Areas where groups of housing units have been constructed on land that the occupants have no legal claim to, or occupy illegally;

2. Unplanned settlements and areas where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations (unauthorized housing).  

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Journey-to-work Trip

A person's commute from their place of residence to their place of work.  

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Land Regularization

A program or method allowing informal residents or squatters to obtain legal proof of land tenure.  

Loan-to-value Ratio

The total amount of the loan as a percent of the total value of the asset.  For example, if a borrower seeks a loan for $75,000 to purchase a home that costs $100,000, the loan-to-value ratio would be 0.75 or 75%.  Also referred to as LTV. 

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Microcredit is a small amount of money loaned to a client by a bank or other institution. Microcredit can be offered, often without collateral, to an individual or through group lending. 

Mortgage Bonds

A bond is a debt instrument issued for a period of years to raise capital by borrowing.  A Mortgage bond is a bond that is backed by a pool of mortgages.  

Mortgage Insurance

An insurance that protects the lender if a borrower defaults on a loan.  Mortgage insurance can be provided or purchased from a private or public entity.  

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Private Housing Finance Institution

Refers to a privately owned institution that provides loans to purchase housing.  Examples could be commercial Banks or private lending institutions.  

Property Document

This refers to the different types of documents available across different countries that indicate proof of tenure.  UN-HABITAT suggests that a person has secure tenure when (1) there is evidence of documentation that can be used as proof of secure tenure status or (2) there is either de facto or perceived protection from forced evictions.   

Property Title

Document or registration providing proof of ownership to a property.  A property title can be in the form of a deed or certificate of ownership.  

Protected Areas

Environmentally sensitive areas that are protected by government regulations from building or encroachment.   

Public Garbage Collection

Government funded or operated garbage collection.  

Public Housing

Housing that is built, owned, and operated by the Government.  Selected tenants are provided the housing at a discounted cost .

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Raw Land

Undeveloped land


A person displaced from their original place (country, city, or region) of residence due to unsafe living conditions such as conflict or disaster and is unable or unwilling to return.  


The act of moving households from one location to another location.  Large resettlement programs might move families to make room for infrastructure expansion (highways, train lines, power plants) or may move families from environmentally sensitive or precarious areas (families residing on a river bank that frequently floods).  Resettlement implies that the families who are moved will receive a new home of equal value. 

Restrictive Covenants

By-laws restricting new tenants from renting or owning without permission .


The right to pass over or through property owned by someone else, usually based upon an easement. There may be a specific path that must be taken, or the right may be more general.  A right of way may be granted for a particular purpose -- for example, to repair power lines or to make deliveries to the back door of a business .

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Secondary Mortgage Market

When individual mortgages are bundled, bought, and sold as securities to investors. 


A program in which an investor or Government  subdivides a parcel of land into multiple plots and provides connections to infrastructure such as water, sewerage,  electricity, paved roads.  Plots are then given or sold to residents or builders to construct homes.   

Slum Upgrading

A program providing services to slum settlements - slum upgrading usually consists of a menu of services that are provided to the beneficiaries including but not limited to access to infrastructure such as water supply, sanitation system, electricity, garbage clean-up and social services such as schools, daycare, health clinics.   

Squatter Settlements

A squatter settlement is one where residents are residing on land that is owned by someone else without permission.  

Sunset Clause

A pre-determined or legally established completion date.  The sunset clause is the specified date when a funding source or a policy ceases to exist.  

Supply Side Subsidies

Subsidies applied to the production of affordable housing supply.  For example, tax credits or grants given to a home builder, construction company, or investor.   

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Treated Sewerage

"Treated" is defined as sewage that goes through a treatment plant of some kind, rather than flowing freely into a river or into the sea.  The treatment process purifies mixtures of human and other domestic waste through either an aerobic or anaerobic process.  

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Water Trucks

Private vendors that sell water to residents.  This is common in neighborhoods that do not have access to a regular water supply or cannot afford formal water connections.   

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