The following is a list of presentations given by Matt Simmonds of Simtech Solutions on the subject of Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS), and related data analysis, used to support community goals of ending homelessness. Each community has its own opportunities and challenges and each presentation can be downloaded by clicking the title of the presentation or by clicking on the image from the introduction page.
The communities of Houston and Corpus Christi quickly designed, developed, and implemented a technical framework to support the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. This presentation included an overview on the challenges that were faced, followed by a discussion of how a services-oriented architecture (SOA) and integration with HMIS was leveraged to maximize the use of data to target the response. Attendees were provided with a blueprint for how they might also respond to natural disasters, or other crises in their communities, using an integrated mix of open source and proprietary technologies.
Coordinating accurate PIT count is a challenge even for small regions. Both Connecticut and San Antonio used paper-based counts but moved to mobile tech and dashboards. San Antonio conducted a blitz count with full canvassing while Connecticut used geographic-sampling. We will show how geospatial survey data collected with mobile devices along with GIS and reporting tools is superior to paper. We will cover the pre-count planning process, review statistical analysis required for sampling, logic used for CoC and statewide estimates, post count clean-up, and lessons learned.
During this session, we will provide an overview of how project-level performance measures, using count results culled from APRs and PIT reports, can serve as an effective alternative to large data warehouses that require client consent in order to co-mingle data. We will walk through the process we are taking in Detroit to ensure that the SPM results are valid, share how regional administrators can use project-level performance measures to identify both high and low performing projects, and share the Tableau reports we are using to help Detroit have a better understanding of the efficacy of the various projects in the area.
Detroit, like many regions, understands that HMIS is a treasure trove of information that is waiting to be unlocked. The Detroit CoC has a 96% adaption rate of HMIS and is able to comply with HUD requirements. However, HUD reports do not meet all the needs of various stakeholders in the region including the needs to drive policy, evaluate performance, identify gaps and tell the local stories about homelessness.
System Performance Measures (SPMs) are useful for highlighting areas in the City that are in need of attention but fall short however when it comes time to decide what action steps should be implemented to address the issues. The primary issue is that the results of the SPM reports lack context. Are the numbers an accurate reflection of what is happening in our region? Are the SPM report results good or bad? What projects are making the most significant impact on these SPM figures?
In this session we will share accomplishments, lessons learned, and obstacles that remain for regions that have participated in the 25 Cities, Zero: 2016, and Mayor's Challenge initiatives. The approaches that have been taken are varied with some deciding to build out their Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement (CAHP) system directly in HMIS and others choosing to build their coordinated assessment system outside of HMIS. The approaches taken for prioritizing clients for limited housing resources also vary. Chronic homeless status, VI-SPDAT scores, frequency of shelter utilization, and medical vulnerability are all factors that can come into play when deciding which client should be next in line for housing. Housing placement is made stronger and more likely with increased participation and support from Federal partners such as HUD and the VA. We will explain how the CAHP system in Boston was structured to allow for VA participation, discuss the work being done to prioritize and match veterans and the chronically homeless to housing, and cover the development of the pilot CAHP pilot project in the seven-county Denver metropolitan area. The presentation will conclude with a conversation about the work that remains ahead if regions are to be successful in meeting their aggressive goals of ending veteran and chronic homelessness.
The annual point in time (PIT) homeless census is an instrumental effort conducted for the purpose of
ascertaining the true scope of homelessness both locally and nationally. Results from both the 2011
and 2012 census showed that 38% of all homeless were residing in unsheltered locations. Despite
recent advances in technology most regions still rely on paper-based surveys and a manual process
for tabulating their street counts. In this session we will share the free “Point In Time Counting Tools”
mobile app, discuss the rationale for such a tool, how it can benefit the interaction with clients, share
results and user feedback from the beta tests, and provide guidance on how the app can be integrated
within regional data collection and reporting processes.
Reporting As A Service (RAAS) is an alternative to the traditional vendor-centric approach. RAAS allows for one set of reporting tools to be developed, tested, and maintained for all to share rather than to have each vendor attempt to perform the process on their own. RAAS can be accomplished via the traditional data warehousing approach, whereby the data is sent to the reporting platform, or can be conducted using the Distributed Reporting Model (DRM) where the tools are sent to wherever the data resides. In this session, the presenter will share examples of how these two approaches have been put into effective use and how, when used in concert with other innovative technologies, they are helping to deliver a heightened level of understanding, accountability, and transparency to the work of ending homelessness.
In this session we reviewed the process for ensuring a HMIS is compliant with published regulations by sharing with attendees HUD endorsed tools that are being used to validate both of the HUD data exchange formats, the HUD APR, the HPRP APR, and the QPR. Tools to ascertain whether or not the data being reported over is of sound quality will be shown and will be followed with a discussion on remediation strategies. The review process will be followed by an overview of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) which will highlight key details that any good SLA should cover.
Legal issues can prevent data warehousing from being a viable option for creating high quality reports outside of a HMIS vendor's software. The distributed reporting model (DRM) has been developed to address this issue. Instead of sending confidential client data to a warehouse the reporting logic is sent to the data. HUD embraced this innovative new approach with the licensing of the APR Generation Tool from Simtech Solutions. This reporting tool is being used by grantees around the US to produce the Annual Performance Reports (APRs) that must be submitted every year in order for these programs which assist the homeless and at risk of homeless to maintain Federal funding. This same tool was also successfully used by several states and regions to meet an aggressive deadline to report back to HUD and to Congress on the measurable outcomes from the $1.5 billion dollar Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).
The presentation covers the approach used to create the APR Generation Tool, and other DRM reports, and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of DRM when compared to data warehousing or reporting directly from a HMIS vendor's software.
Methods around conducting point-in-time counts have continued to be of critical interest to communities across the country. While getting accurate counts is integral to the overall goal of ending homelessness, what a communities does with their counts can often be overlooked. This workshop will highlight how communities have identified data to collect, conducted their counts, analyzed their counts and used their counts to drive policy and raise awareness.
This presentation shared a state by state overview of the trends in homelessness throughout New England from 2005-2009. This work was a collaborative effort led largely by members of the New England Regional HMIS (NERHMIS) committee to gather data from all 43 HUD continuums of care throughout the region. Data was gathered in a data warehouse developed and hosted by Simtech Solutions Inc for the purposes of this study which highlights the stark discrepancy between the trends in homeless in Massachusetts (a right to shelter state) and neighboring states.
Presented in conjunction with Dr. Eric Hirsch of Providence College