Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is a locally administered data collection system required for all communities who receive federal funds for serving individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The City of Cambridge, Department of Human Service Programs serves as the designated Lead Agency for HMIS in Cambridge. As such, it operates and oversees the database, working with partner agencies and providers to assist them in collecting accurate information on the clients they serve, in order to aggregate data that will fulfill reporting requirement and help us understand the extent of homelessness locally, as well as the ability to measure the effectiveness of services.
One of the most important components of an HMIS is the capacity to unduplicate data across different projects, in order to obtain counts to reflect the number of persons experiencing homelessness within the Continuum of Care. HMIS is the foundation for required federal reports, including the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), System Performance Measures, Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER), and the Point in Time (PIT) Count.
In addition to ensuring a system of accuracy in data collection, administration of the Cambridge HMIS includes protecting the security and integrity of confidential client information.
HMIS Data Standards exist in order to establish precise and consistent data collection for information collected by homeless service providers. This allows for standardized reporting across projects, agencies and regions, for tracking persons served and other information that is helpful to inform planning and policy in addressing homelessness.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collaborated with other Federal programs in their release of the most recent (2014) HMIS Data Standards. Projects in Cambridge HMIS primarily represent those funded under HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) programs.
If you enter data into HMIS, some of the data entry elements you see are specific to your program (i.e. ESG, CoC), its funding component (i.e. Emergency Shelter, Homeless Prevention) and other classifications. All projects, regardless of program or funding type, are required to collect the HMIS Universal Data Elements:
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Veteran Status
- Disabling Condition
- Residence Prior to Project Entry
- Project Entry Date
- Project Exit Date
- Personal ID (HMIS Generated)
- Household ID (HMIS Generated)
- Relationship to Head of Household
- Client Location Code
- Time on Streets, Emergency Shelter or Safe Haven