The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is an electronic database used to accumulate information on the characteristics of those at risk of homelessness or already homeless, tracking service delivery by continuum members.
The program was developed in the 1990s in response to a mandate by Congress requiring the collection of such data in order to qualify for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). With enhancements over the past few years, providers are now able to refer, case manage and document outcomes through this system. Initially used to track participants in Continuum of Care Grants, it has now been expanded to track participants in Emergency Housing, Permanent Supportive Housing, Transitional Housing, Supportive Services for those who are homeless, including families and veterans, Homeless Prevention, Rapid Rehousing, and VASH vouchers.
While the Point-in-Time Census is essential for gathering information on homeless people, it does not give us all the data we need to assess the breadth and scope of homelessness and plan for solutions. Broad utilization of HMIS can help provide consistent and accurate information on the region’s homeless population over time, preventing duplication of services and providing consistent case management and data on the effectiveness of homeless programs. HMIS data is used to provide objective statistics to government, community and private funders.