What Is HMIS Software?
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.
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 use case management and administration software to enable them to meet this congressional mandate. Our HMIS software is the ideal solution for these homeless services providers in the US.
Our HMIS Software
The scope of our HMIS software is deep and wide, with the ability to track and manage data related to the elements of any homeless services and supportive housing program. We offer the only Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) in its class that is also certified for Meaningful Use. Features of our homeless management software include:
- System Performance Measures, AHAR, APR, ESG CAPER, Point In Time (PIT) reports with a click of a mouse
- Support for Federal partner agency reports including PATH ARS
- Custom built reports through ReportBuilder
- CSV exports and imports
- Tools for Coordinated Entry Systems, including waiting lists, central intake, and service referral tracking
- Occupancy, vacancy, utilization reports, and bed/unit registry
- Unduplicated client demographics
- VI-SPDAT and other custom assessments
- Ability to manage data about services provided and tracking costs associated with those services
- In-house accounts and client money management
- Property maintenance, leases, rent, and utility tracking
- Comprehensive service planning and provision for individuals and families
- Fully customizable to meet changing HUD / agency / continuum needs
- Assists staff in managing all aspects of service provision through each stage of your continuum of care
- Gives management access to real-time program and administrative reports (client load, case management assignments, agency demographics, performance measure outcomes progress)
- Provides up-to-the-minute shelter bed availability as well as transitional and permanent housing vacancy information
- Generates HUD’s Annual Progress Report and is customizable to generate reports for other Federal, State and Local funders
- Uses built-in and fully customizable forms that standardize the collection of data across your continuum
- Provides administrative data to inform the community planning and needs assessment process
- Allows secure e-mail messaging for staff throughout one site or at every site in your continuum through the built-in Messaging module
- Manages client confidentiality and consent to release information agreements
- Generates unique identifier to ensure an accurate unduplicated client count across your continuum
- Allows for the transfer of existing client data from ODBC-compliant software
- Uses web-based technology to save money and eliminate need for wide area network (WAN) technology and systems administration costs.
“I just wanted to drop you a quick note about our HUD APRs this year. I just finished our fifth one and it was virtually painless with AWARDS. In years past, with our old database, each report would have taken days. This year, I was able to print the APR from AWARDS, verify the data, gather the financials, transfer the information to the HUD 40118 and put the report in the mail to HUD in just a couple of hours for each report. What a life and time saver! Thank you to the whole Foothold Team for making our organization much more efficient!”
Once your continuum decides to purchase an 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 the HMIS
- Review of all programmatic data elements
- Assessment of reporting needs
- Development of the client data dictionary
- Customization of the HMIS Software
- 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 the HMIS will be up and running in your continuum
Mississippi United To End Homelessness MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi United to End Homelessness Continuum of Care (MUTEH), also known as Balance of State (BOS), is a multidisciplinary non-profit organization with membership from agencies representing 71 of 82 counties in Mississippis Balance of State Continuum of Care. MUTEH was officially formed in 1991 to develop strategies to coordinate homeless assistance programs in the Mississippi counties not represented by other Continua. Member agencies provide a variety of referral and homeless services to homeless individuals and families throughout the state. Services include emergency shelters, transitional or permanent housing, education or vocational rehabilitation, and a variety of basic subsistence supplies and services.
Open Doors Homeless Coalition is a coalition raising awareness by building bridges within the community and acting as a unified force dedicated to reducing and preventing homelessness.
Stewpot Community Services Stewpot is made up of service organizations in central Mississippi that provide direct, indirect or supportive services to homeless individuals and those at risk of becoming homeless, persons who advocate on behalf of the homeless and other individuals, groups, and organizations concerned with the welfare and needs of the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.
Bergen County Department of Human Services – HMIS NEW JERSEY — The Bergen County Department Of Human Services is charged with the responsibilities of: assessing the human services needs of the countys most vulnerable residents, managing resources to meet the needs, coordinating a system for service delivery, and ensuring access to quality services.
CARES NEW YORK — CARES is currently working in collaboration with homeless service programs in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga, Columbia, Greene, Points North Counties to develop a region-wide Homeless Management Information System. This data system will provide an unduplicated count of homeless persons, a demographic profile, and the cause of their homelessness. Information gathered through this system will provide valuable information about the nature and scope of homelessness in the Capital Region.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Rochester Provides compassionate assistance to people in need without regard to religious, racial, ethnic, or economic background
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless – HMIS NEW YORK — The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless (LICH) is a not for profit organization whose mission is to reduce homelessness on Long Island. LICH was founded in 1988 as an advocacy and information/referral organization to help homeless individuals and families throughout Long Island. Since that time, LICH has grown to include over 125 member agencies and organizations, as well as approximately 100 individual members.
Office of Community Development (Rockland County) NEW YORK — The mission of the Office of Community Development is to serve the people of Rockland County by obtaining federal and state grants to provide affordable housing and improve the quality of life to low and moderate income residents in Rockland in an ethical, courteous, timely and cost-effective manner. Rockland County is using AWARDS HMIS to assist a coalition of agencies in tracking homeless people in the county.
The Supportive Housing Network of New York represents its nonprofit members in the collective effort to end homelessness among the most vulnerable New Yorkers through the creation of sufficient supportive housing. They work with all sectors – public, private and nonprofit – to ensure supportive housing’s quality and proliferation through advocacy, policy analysis, training, technical assistance and public education.
Homeless Management Information Systems: Strengthening Communities Through Data and Research
As more communities identify opportunities to generate Medicaid savings and improve individual outcomes among Medicaid beneficiaries who use homeless services, all eyes are turning to data. In recent conversations with a few Foothold Technology partners and customers, we’ve captured some thoughts about how agencies are accessing Medicaid dollars to support services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Because of good record-keeping in AWARDS, our electronic record for human services agencies, Foothold Technology customers are also finding new opportunities to partner with other entities to inform planning, drive policy and strengthen communities. Siena College, based in Loudonville, NY, has been working with Foothold Technology customer CARES, on a research project related to Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data. We were pleased to learn that as a result of this partnership, a suite of additional HMIS tools developed by a professor and students at the college was recently published online. Allyson Thiessen, Director of HMIS Program and Services at CARES stated, “I wanted to pass [the news along] because the only reason we could do this partnership is due to the flexibility of AWARDS.”
We’re seeing similar partnerships and advancements in how data is supporting research in states like New Jersey. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA)/HMIS, a Foothold Technology client, has entered into an agreement with Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy (CSHP) and the NJ Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) to share encrypted data to look at the intersection of Medicaid use and homelessness. The study hopes to ultimately show the health and cost benefits of stable housing for those experiencing long-term homelessness. You can read more about this study in this blog post from Paul Rossi, our Director of Client Services.
The Foothold Technology team is proudly working behind the scenes to assist our customers and provide support to these types of studies, but it’s the partnerships our customers are forming and the teams of people coming together who are bringing this important data to light. We’re honored to have a seat at the table. Do you have an interesting story about how you are using data to partner with others? We’d love to hear from you.
New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
Project Started: 2004
Location: New Jersey
Consumers Served: Over 1,300 annually
Annual Operating Budget: $13 million
The Situation: A Change in Legislation
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) directed every Continuum of Care in the United States to collect an unduplicated count of the homeless persons served in their communities, and required each agency to implement a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to track demographics and services used by homeless individuals and families. New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) had to select software that could be eciently implemented into over 1,000 programs across the state.
The Solution: Expedited Implementation
After evaluating many software options, NJHMFA chose Foothold as its HMIS vendor because of our ability to quickly implement the software system in over 200 agencies. While other vendors said that such a huge project would take multiple years to install, we were able to implement the software in over 796 supportive housing programs within only a couple months.
Within this timeframe, we were even able to configure the software to meet the specific needs of New Jersey homeless programs. With such a quick implementation, we had additional time to train all 1,300 NJHMFA users and support them through the entire process.
The Result: Going Beyond HUD’s Directive
By managing such a complex implementation within a short amount of time, we provided a robust HMIS software that met and exceeded HUD’s requirements. While NJHMFA initially only needed a software to meet HUD’s directive, the agency quickly realized how AWARDS could improve all of their agency operations. AWARDS has drastically cut down on the time required to track and report on their homeless programs. Beyond helping with simple case management, AWARDS has become a true tool for NJHMFA to identify people facing homelessness and connect them to the best services.
Do I Need HMIS Software?
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.
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. Read how two of our clients are using Medicaid dollars to fund homeless services.
Ending Homelessness – Learning and Sharing Best Practices
At Foothold, we are constantly following the trends and best practices for addressing homeless and housing issues. We have a team dedicated to homelessness and HMIS (Homeless Management Information System databases). This includes staff from Client Services, Quality Assurance, and Application Development, who meet daily to discuss the needs of our HMIS clients and the continually changing direction of homeless services. Things are constantly in motion with new data standards coming out every year, changes in government, and new research on the best practices for addressing the needs of the homeless and finding better and more efficient ways to end homelessness throughout the country.
Read More ->
Addressing Homelessness in Vermont: Using Data to Make a Difference
We continue to read stories across the country describing individuals experiencing homelessness and the complex behavioral health issues which often accompany those without stable permanent housing. We also hear stories of success coming out of states like Florida, which recently reported its largest homeless decrease in a one-year period.
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National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week
Held each year during the week prior to Thanksgiving, this week serves as a time when communities come together to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness and to advocate for change. It’s an opportunity for individuals and organizations to join voices with groups like the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), the National Student Campaign against Hunger & Homelessness, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and many other organizations in their “Resolve to Fight Poverty.” At Foothold Technology, we proudly support customers and partners across the country who are working tirelessly each and every week in the fight against hunger and homelessness.
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