What Is a Homeless Management Information System?
In the 2002 HUD Appropriations Act, Congress instituted a requirement that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collect data on the extent of homelessness in the United States and the effectiveness of the programs funded by HUD under the McKinney Act.
As a result, communities receiving McKinney Act funds must report to HUD by the end of each year the number of unduplicated homeless persons in their community. Additionally, HUD is requiring client-level data to aid in the analysis of the patterns of program usage.
A Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is a coordinated system of computers that enable service, shelter and housing providers in different locations across a continuum (community, county or state) to collect and share information about the homeless individuals and families seeking services within their continuum using HMIS software.
This system of computers allows users to collect and store information that can be used to enhance service delivery for their consumers as well as generate required reports for different funding sources, including the Annual Progress Report (APR) for HUD.
Continuum of Care leaders across the country are now selecting computerized case management and administration programs to enable them to meet this Congressional mandate. Foothold Technology’s AWARDS HMIS software is the ideal software solution for these homeless services providers across the country.
How Is HMIS Software Set Up?
Generally, there are two ways to connect all of the computers that will use the software: through a Wide Area Network or through the Internet. A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a collection of computers that are connected through hardware and software over a large, or “wide” area.
Internet software delivery is done through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model which allows users anywhere throughout the continuum to use their existing computers and Internet browsers to access the software with a secure username and password.
For the actual user, accessing software through an SaaS is nearly identical to accessing software through a WAN. Administratively, creating and managing a WAN is much more difficult and expensive than utilizing an SaaS.
Foothold Technology saves you the expense of purchasing, operating and maintaining a Wide Area Network by providing its AWARDS HMIS software directly to your continuum securely over the Internet.
How to Pay for HMIS software
As part of the 2001 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Application, HUD made costs associated with the implementation and operation of an HMIS an eligible supportive services expense. Now, communities planning to implement or expand an HMIS can seek funding from HUD for the purchase of existing HMIS software, the lease or purchase of necessary computer equipment, and the staffing costs associated with the day-to-day operation of the HMIS (system administration, training, data analysis, reporting, etc.).
In addition to HUD funding, Continua are using funds from city, county and state governments as well as private foundation and corporate support to pay for the purchase of HMIS software.
Implementation of Your AWARDS HMIS Software
Once your continuum decides to purchase AWARDS HMIS, we will immediately develop your implementation plan that will include:
- Meeting with the key stakeholder/decision making group to discuss the needs of the continuum and the anticipated uses of AWARDS HMIS
- Review of all programmatic data elements
- Assessment of reporting needs
- Development of the client data dictionary
- Customization of AWARDS HMIS
- Establishment of a staff training schedule, which will include “Train the Trainer” sessions for ongoing training within the continuum
- Review of the modifications to the software
- Establishment of the “Go Live” date – the date that AWARDS HMIS will be up and running in your continuum