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We already have a HMIS. Why do we need HomelessData?

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While HMIS tends to focus on data collection and case management tools used by homeless service agencies, the primary objective of a data warehouse is to gather all pertinent data in one place and to make it easier to learn from it. Examples of the tools that exist within to support a culture of data-driven decision making include the following:

  • Dashboards! A warehouse can be used to automate the creation of public-facing dashboards and research tools.  These dashboards help communities move towards data-driven decision making, support discussions on addressing racial disparities, and can be used to identify the projects are delivering the outcomes needed to improve the performance of the system.
  • Performance Evaluation and Monitoring Tools. By leveraging a common framework to evaluate the performance of projects, regional leaders can maximize the impact of each dollar coming into the community.  These tools, described here, were originally designed to support the annual Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) Rating and Ranking process however regions are now using them year-round to provide a continuous feedback loop.
  • HUD Reporting. can produce all of the HUD required reports and these reports can be run by target population! This is ideal for supporting community conversations that are specific to youth, veterans, chronic, and others.  Each figure on the report can be clicked to show the universe of clients that make up a count.
  • Street Outreach. HomelessData can integrate traditional HMIS data with street outreach data gathered by mobile apps such as Show the Way.  This is important as HMIS is traditionally PC-based yet the work of street outreach programs is more conducive to mobile tech.
  • Prioritized By Name Lists.  The data is gathered to build a “longitudinal record” of each person’s history in the homeless system.  This can be used to document chronic homeless status, drive housing prioritization for coordinated entry, and help inform case management.
  • Data Quality Monitoring.  Built in data quality monitoring tools help ensure the integrity of the results being shared.
  • Ability to integrate Non-HMIS data. US Census data can be used to inform if there are racial disparities between the general population and the homeless population, data syncs with the Veteran Affairs (the VA) can verify veteran status without requiring a DD-214, and integrations with data from medical providers can help demonstrate the return on investment of housing.
  • Geospatial Reporting.  Quite often there is a need to run a report by city or town to meet local needs, or to be able to look at data by census tract to support racial disparity analysis.  The warehouse supports this level of analysis whereas most HMIS software does not.
  • Cross-Region Reporting.  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 the pain of a system conversion.  With a warehouse, this is not needed as the data from each CoC can be aggregated and regional reports can be run off of the combined data set.