Also called homesteading program, urban homesteading. a federal program to improve deteriorating urban areas by offering abandoned or foreclosed houses to persons who agree to repair them and live in them for a specified number of years.
Old English hamstede "home, town, village," from home (n.) + stead (q.v.). In U.S. usage, "a lot of land adequate for the maintenance of a family" (1690s), defined by the Homestead Act of 1862 as 160 acres. Hence, the verb, first recorded 1872. Homesteader also is from 1872.