The HMIS (Homeless Management Information System) is a database used to gather objective data on the homeless in our area. It collects basic data on clients and tracks the services that they receive. Our agencies participate in this state-wide database, which it allows us to know who our clients are and how effectively our programs help them. The City of Lansing administers the HMIS database for GLHRN. We have assembled some documents to help agencies better understand HMIS.
If you are new at a HMIS participating agency, this document will take you through the steps of registering for training with MCAH and be on the road to using HMIS effectively. HUD has also created a tutorial on their data standards.
As of October 2016, we will be updating our intake forms to meet HUD’s new requirements for data standards. We have forms for intake into shelter or outreach programs, intake to RRH and prevention programs, intake into the HARA, intake for SSVF programs, and intake into PSH, transitional, or SSO programs. There is also an Exit Form.
To protect the privacy of our clients, all on HMIS must sign a Release of Information, which gives GLHRN the ability to look at and share their information. GLHRN HMIS agencies can also attach files, such as copies of driver’s licenses or birth certificates. This allows HMIS to store these copies and provide them to clients if they were to lose their IDs.
One advantage to HMIS is it allows agencies to refer clients to other service providers in easy and efficient ways. This gives our clients additional places to receive need services, and also keeps track of how our agencies are coordinating.
HMIS also allows client to be grouped by households, allowing families to be served together more effectively.
Another aspect HMIS can track is case management time. This allows us to know how much time we have spent helping any given client. There is also a case management report that allows agencies to quickly determine the number of case management hours they have on HMIS.
Rapid re-housing (RRH) works very effectively by placing clients into housing directly via rental assistance. HMIS contains information about these services.
Preventing homelessness before it happens helps our families, because they wouldn’t need to leave their home. Prevention services are another important part of GLHRN, and are documented on HMIS.
A key feature of HMIS are sub-assessments. These allow the network to share the specific issues faced by our clients, and serve them better.
Occasionally, HUD will update the required data standards, so our agencies keep up to date with the latest HMIS standards, such as this one on questions regarding whether a client is Chronically Homeless.