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The glossary below may define terms not included in the main Glossary on

The main Glossary on provides official definitions covering all topics, censuses, surveys and programs.

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When a unit in a building with five or more units has been initially rented or sold after construction and is no longer available on the market.

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Those rooms used mainly for sleeping or designed to be a bedroom, even if used for other purposes. A housing unit consisting of only one room, such as a one–room efficiency apartment, is classified by definition as having no bedroom. For SOMA, the builder determines the number of bedrooms in a unit and that number is recorded during the initial interview.

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Commercial Purpose

The use of property by persons for any fare, fee, rate, charge or other consideration, or directly or indirectly in connection with any business, or other undertaking intended for profit.

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A type of ownership that enables a person to own an apartment or house directly in a project of similarly owned units. The owner’s name is on the deed, and the owner may have a mortgage on the unit occupied. The owner also may hold common or joint ownership in some or all common areas such as grounds, hallways, entrances, and elevators.

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A type of ownership whereby a group of housing units is owned by a corporation of member–owners. Each individual member is entitled to occupy or rent out an individual housing unit and is a shareholder in the corporation that owns the property, but does not own the unit directly. The corporation may have a mortgage on the whole group of units. The member may have a loan or mortgage to buy his or her shares in the corporation.

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A machine used for washing dishes. Counter top and portable dishwashers are not counted.

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Supplied by above or underground electric power lines.

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A cage or platform and its hoisting machinery for conveying people or things to different levels. Statistics are shown for housing units in structures with two or more floors that have one or more passenger elevators in working condition on the same floor as the sample unit. Elevators used only for freight are excluded.

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Furnished Units

Units in which furniture for living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms, as well as linens and kitchen utensils are provided.

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Propane or natural gas as piped through underground pipes from a central system to serve the neighborhood.

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Geographic regions

The four major regions of the United States for which data are presented in this report represent groups of States as follows:

  • Northeast: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.
  • Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota.
  • South: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas.
  • West: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington.

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Units are heated by means of gas or electric. Types of heating are:

  • Warm-air furnace - refers to a central system that provides warm air through ducts leading to various rooms.
  • Steam or hot water system - refers to a central heating system in which heat from steam or hot water is delivered through radiators or other outlets. It also includes solar heated hot water that is circulated throughout the home.
  • Electric heat pump - refers to a heating and cooling system that utilizes indoor and outdoor coils, a compressor, and a refrigerant to pump in heat during the winter and pump out heat during the summer. Only heat pumps that are centrally installed with ducts to the rooms are included in this category. Others are included in wall units.
  • Built-in electric units - refer to units permanently installed in floors, walls, ceilings, or baseboards.
  • Room heater with flue - refers to nonportable room heaters in the wall or free standing heaters that burn liquid fuel, and which are connected to a ventilation shaft to remove smoke and fumes.

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Housing Unit

An apartment, condominium or cooperative building intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants do not live with other persons in the structure and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. Living quarters of the following types are not considered housing units and are thus are excluded from the SOMA housing unit inventory: Dormitories, bunkhouses, and barracks.

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Metropolitan and Statistical Areas (history)

The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB), defines metropolitan and statistical areas according to published standards that are applied to Census Bureau data. The general concept of a metropolitan statistical area is that of a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core.

Due to the new sample drawn from Census 2000, metropolitan/nonmetropolitan data published in 2005 and later are not directly comparable to data for 2004 and earlier. The 2005 metropolitan area data reflect new definitions as defined by OMB, while data for 2004 and earlier (back to 1995) reflect 1990 metropolitan/nonmetropolitan area definitions.

Currently defined metropolitan statistical areas are based on application of 2000 standards, (which appeared in the Federal Register on December 27, 2000) to Census 2000 data. Current metropolitan statistical area definitions were announced by OMB effective June 6, 2003. Standard definitions of metropolitan areas were first issued in 1949 by the then Bureau of the Budget (predecessor of OMB), under the designation "standard metropolitan area" (SMA). The term was changed to "standard metropolitan statistical area" (SMSA) in 1959, and to "metropolitan statistical area" (MSA) in 1983.

The term "metropolitan area" (MA) was adopted in 1990 and referred collectively to metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), consolidated metropolitan statistical areas (CMSAs), and primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSAs). The term "core based statistical area" (CBSA) became effective in 2000 and refers collectively to metropolitan statistical areas.

OMB has been responsible for the official metropolitan areas since they were first defined, except for the period 1977 to 1981, when they were the responsibility of the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, Department of Commerce. The standards for defining metropolitan areas were modified in 1958, 1971, 1975, 1980, 1990, and 2000.

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Metropolitan Statistical Area

The 2000 standards provide that each CBSA must contain at least one urban area of 10,000 or more population. Each metropolitan statistical area must have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more inhabitants.

Under the standards, the county (or counties) in which at least 50 percent of the population resides within urban areas of 10,000 or more population, or that contain at least 5,000 people residing within a single urban area of 10,000 or more population, is identified as a "central county" (counties). Additional "outlying counties" are included in the CBSA if they meet specified requirements of commuting to or from the central counties. Counties or equivalent entities form the geographic "building blocks" for metropolitan statistical areas throughout the United States. If specified criteria are met, a metropolitan statistical area containing a single core with a population of 2.5 million or more may be subdivided to form smaller groupings of counties referred to as "metropolitan divisions."

As of June 6, 2000, there are 362 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States.

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Occupied Housing Units

A housing unit is occupied if a person or group of persons is living in it at the time of the interview or if the occupants are only temporarily absent, as for example, on vacation.

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Off Street Parking

Individual parking that is located on a nearby street to the structure.

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Principal Cities and Metropolitan Statistical Area

The largest city in each metropolitan statistical area is designated a "principal city." Additional cities qualify if specified requirements are met concerning population size and employment. The title of each metropolitan statistical area consists of the names of up to three of its principal cities and the name of each state into which the metropolitan statistical area extends. Titles of metropolitan divisions also typically are based on principal city names but in certain cases consist of county names.

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Purchase Price

The purchase price refers to the price of the condominium or cooperative unit at the time the property was purchased. Closing costs are excluded from the purchase price. In the publications, the median purchase price is rounded to the nearest one–hundredth dollar.

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Refers to gas or electric ranges or stoves originally manufactured to cook food. The cook stove or range must be mechanical. A wood–burning stove is not counted.

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It may or may not have a freezer.

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A set amount of money, billed or charged, which is paid at regular intervals (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) to a property owner in exchange for right of occupancy. The report is based on monthly payments.

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Subsidized Units

Households paying a lower rent because a federal, state, or local government program pays part of the cost of construction, mortgage, or operating expenses. These programs include rental assistance programs where part of the rent for low–income families is paid by HUD, and direct loan programs of HUD and the Department of Agriculture for reduced cost housing. Units requiring income verification are usually subsidized. Subsidies for homeowners, including HUD subsidies for cooperatives, are not counted, since the questions are asked only of renters. Types of subsidies recognized by SOMA include:

  • Section 8 – Privately owned rental dwelling units participating in the low-income rental assistance program created by 1974 amendments to Section 8 of the 1937 Housing Act. Under the program, landlords receive rent subsidies on behalf of qualified low-income tenants, allowing the tenants to pay a limited proportion of their incomes toward the rent.
  • Housing for Elderly Direct Loan Program (Section 202) – This program is to provide direct Federal loans for a maximum term of 40 years under Section 202 of the Housing Act of 1959, as amended, to assist private, nonprofit corporations and consumer cooperatives in the development of new or substantially rehabilitated housing and related facilities to serve the elderly, physically handicapped, developmentally disabled or chronically mentally ill adults.
  • Low Income housing Tax Credit - A program that is an indirect Federal subsidy used to finance the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households.

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Swimming Pool

An artificial water–filled structure, in which people can swim, usually set into the ground outdoors or the floor indoors.

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Transient Use

Units not used as a regular or permanent residence (i.e. motel/hotel).

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The number of housing units in a structure, all units, occupied and vacant. The statistics are presented for the number of housing units, not the number of residential structures.

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