HomelessData allows the user to view and work with data from a variety of perspectives, and therefore provides the flexibility to work across silos to address homelessness more effectively. The data security model allows for data permissions to be set at the following levels:
- Add data within a datasource
- An entire organization’s data (from one or more datasources)
- An entire project’s data (from one or more datasources)
- The data contained within a single import they uploaded
This flexibility supports flexible user roles which support a complex service delivery system that crosses boundaries, funding sources, and a range of requirements.
HomelessData.com leverages the HUD data exchange formats to support communities, agencies and staff to continue to use the HMIS data collection that makes sense for them without sacrificing the benefits of having a single system. Some of the reasons for having a data warehouse as part of a community’s framework to address homelessness include:
- Without data integration, which is a core facet of data warehousing, regions (and the organizations within them) face barriers to collaboration. Data exchange protocols and APIs are the common languages used to integrate data systems. Other sectors such as healthcare, transportation/logistics, and banking have proven that a framework approach is better suited for complex data management tasks.
- Organizations often provide services beyond the footprint of a single region. If such an organization were to use the HMIS system of a single region, they would need to be licensed and trained on the separate HMIS systems used within each region that they operate in. This increases costs, adds to an administrative burden and it also prevents the agency from being able to produce a comprehensive picture of their own work.
- Coordinated Entry systems are intended to help clients find services and resources nearby. Balance of State CoCs (BoS CoCs) are usually comprised of several small regions that are spread out throughout a state. Without connections to other HMIS software in place, a person seeking help from a non-profit within a BoS CoC may have a long way to travel to get to the referral location of another non-profit within the BoS CoC.
- The geographic boundaries of the Federal partner agencies do not align. Therefore, if a report is needed by VAMC or ESG entitlement region for example, then data would need to be gathered from each HMIS that encompasses the region and reports would need to be cut from this aggregated data set.
- HUD is currently encouraging CoCs to merge, implying that one of the CoCs may need to sever their contract with their current HMIS vendor and go through a system conversion.
- HMIS is traditionally PC based yet the work of street outreach programs is more conducive to mobile technologies. Mobile apps don’t really need to be a full-blown HMIS if the primary intent is to identify the needs of a person, direct him or her to help, and to capture the interaction. The full intake that happens in a HMIS system can occur when and if a person presents themselves at a referral destination.