Homeless Management Information Systems Implementation Guide

Information is critical to making informed decisions in any field. Until now, the data to support informed decisions for homeless populations have not been strong or accurate because service providers across jurisdictions have lacked compatible tracking capabilities. This situation has begun to change. For the most part, homeless management information systems (HMISs), which provide a means to collect and analyze information over time, are a relatively new concept. By gathering and analyzing solid data on the individuals and families who use homeless service systems, communities and the Nation can work to end this crisis.

An HMIS is a tool that communities can use to collect ongoing data on homeless persons who use service programs. Without an HMIS, most communities have no consistent means to identify service needs, barriers to accessing services, and program-, region-, and system-wide results. Advocates and planners are forced to rely on point-in-time census counts to estimate the size of local homeless populations. Although this approach is useful for gathering a one-time unduplicated count of homeless individuals and families, it is vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations. Snapshot counts also tend to over-represent those with the most chronic problems while under-representing those facing time-limited situational crises.

Using longitudinal data, communities can track service and demand trends. These data are critical to accurately calculate the size and needs of the homeless population as well as the outcomes of specific interventions and programs. Policymakers, agency directors, homeless program consumers, and advocates require this information for service and systems planning and advocacy.

HMIS Implementation Guide (Entire Guide 1.04 MB)

Archive Guide
Homeless Services Tracking System Implementation Guide Center for Social Policy, McCormack Institute, University of Massachusetts-Boston (October, 1999)

Content Archived: March 26, 2011