HMIS Experience

At Simtech Solutions, we focus on technical and strategic solutions to support communities' response to homelessness. Mandated by the the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) is a data system that is used to gather information about the individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness and are receiving some time of service, including housing. Typically, case managers collect and record this information and is used to report to the Federal, State and local government as well as a range of stakeholders.  There are dozens of HMIS software products which can result in technical conflicts.  To ensure consistency between these products there need to be ground rules and supporting tools.  These ground rules establish the basis for data integration and a "no wrong door" approach to delivering housing and services to resolve homelessness in a community.

As technical assistance providers for HUD, Simtech Solutions authored the programming specifications that detail how vendors should code the HUD Annual Performance Report (APR) and the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) APR.  These reports are used by HUD to demonstrate to Congress how Federal tax dollars are being spent and are instrumental to ongoing support of effective programs to target homelessness.

Simtech developed the HMIS reporting tool, initially based on csv 3.7 standards and then updated in March 2016 to support the csv 4.0 standards. This  distributed reporting model allows communities to bring the report to the data which may be necessary under a variety of circumstances such as by vendors to validate their reports and by communities when they are not able to generate an accurate report through their HMIS.  

In addition to reporting, Simtech focuses on the notion that technology can be used to create bridges across data systems, and any HMIS vendor. The HUD CSV 3.0 Exchange Format, authored by Simtech, standardized HMIS data collection and establishes the foundation for an integrated approach. Additionally, we contributed to the other HUD endorsed exchange format, the HUD XML Schema, and were tasked by HUD to develop the HUD XML to CSV Parsing Utility to allow systems that support the HUD CSV format to also accept HUD XML data.

Simtech served as lead business architects for the Massachusetts’ Statewide Homelessness Operations and Research Environment (SHORE) HMIS and business analysts for the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national registry of homeless veterans.  Our data management platform, AgencyDash.com, enables Eliot Community Human Services to assist over 4000 people who are experiencing homelessness and mental health issues while also supporting Federal reporting to SAMHSA and State reporting to the MA Department of Mental Health.

The HMIS data warehouse platform, HomelessData.com works with HMIS in csv 4.1 format from any system. This platform provides opportunities to integrate data from a variety of sources to understand homelessness across an entire community. HomelessData hosts all of the HUD required reports.   

We apply data to research and the research we conducted on the cost-effectiveness of housing versus shelter for chronically homeless individuals led to Quincy, MA being awarded the Advanced Data Users Award from HUD.  This was in 2003 at the dawn of understanding Housing First.