What is an HMIS?

A Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is a software application designed to record and store client-level information on the characteristics and service needs of homeless persons throughout a Continuum of Care (CoC) jurisdiction. An HMIS is typically a web-based software application that homeless assistance providers use to coordinate service provision, manage their operations, and better serve their clients. Additionally, it helps knit together homeless assistance providers within a community and creates a more coordinated and effective housing and service delivery system for a community.  Policymakers and planners at the federal, state and local levels, including the CoC, use aggregate HMIS data to obtain better information about the extent and nature of homelessness over time, with a focus on developing unduplicated counts of clients served at the local level; analyzing patterns of use of people entering and exiting the homeless assistance system; and evaluating the effectiveness of these systems. It is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  

What are the benefits of participating in an HMIS?

The benefits of HMIS data collection for organizations include improved ability to measuring client outcomes and performance of programs; better coordination of services internally among agency programs and externally with other providers; decreasing duplicative intakes, assessments, and services; coordinated case management; and determining benefit eligibility.  For the broader community, HMIS participation can help inform our understanding of the scope of homelessness and evaluate the performance of the system that is in place.  Comprehensive participation in HMIS yields better unduplicated counts of clients served, the improved ability to assess unmet needs/service gaps, and informs system design and policy decisions.

Who should be a part of an HMIS?

All service providers that assist person experiencing homelessness or are at imminent risk for homelessness are encouraged to be a part of the community’s HMIS.  This includes but isn’t limited to emergency shelter providers, transitional housing programs for homeless persons, Permanent Supportive Housing providers, human service organizations that provide homeless prevention-type services (rental and utility assistance), and all other service organizations who provide food, clothing, prescription, and utilities vouchers.