What is HMIS?

HMIS is an acronym for Homeless Management Information System, which is an electronic database used to hold information on the characteristics and service needs of homeless people in the United States. The program was developed in the late 1990s in response to a mandate by Congress requiring states to collect data in order to receive funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address homelessness.

Homeless Management Information Systems are web-based software applications that homeless assistance providers use to coordinate care, manage their operations, and better serve their clients. High-performing organizations expect their HMIS software to be compliant, user-friendly, efficient and particularly vigilant in ensuring the quality of their data.

While Homeless Information is essential for gathering counts of homeless people, raw data does not give us all the info we need to assess the breadth and scope of homelessness and plan for solutions. Broad utilization of HMIS helps provide a consistent and accurate snapshot of a region’s homeless population, including a population count, information on service use, and a measurement of the effectiveness of homeless programs. HMIS also helps track the number of chronically homeless clients and placements into permanent housing. This information can have important impacts on policy at the federal, state, and local levels.

Even with all of these benefits, HMIS usage has been low amongst homeless providers because its functions have not been the easiest to understand and, like any software, it takes time to learn. Top HMIS software vendors have been improving interfaces and upgrading their technology to accompdate needs of homeless agencies and create more user friendly software. Today, a handful of software providers, including ClientTrack, are at the cutting edge of HMIS technology and work with homeless agencies, local governments, and continuum’s across the country to encourage adoption of the latest HMIS technologies.