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HMIS Basics

What is HMIS?

Homeless Management Information System, or HMIS, is software used by providers to:

  • Manage various community service and homeless assistance programs;
  • Adopt Electronic Client Records to ensure quality services and care;
  • Measure and evaluate outcomes for clients, staff and programs;
  • Develop best practices across entire organizations;
  • Ensure compliance with federal and state grant programs;
  • Increase awareness and strengthen advocacy through quantitative data; and,
  • Build partnerships with other providers in order to better assist Texans in need.

What are the benefits of using HMIS?

HMIS helps to inform organizational and community level planning to end and prevent homelessness in Texas. The system also simplifies reporting, enables greater collaboration between service providers in your community, and provides quantifiable data with which to advocate and develop your programs. In addition to the previous benefits, HMIS meets McKinney-Vento requirements for your HUD funded programs.

Does participation include technical support?

The HMIS Data Center provides extensive online technical assistance and is constantly working on providing better tools to assist its user base. Contact us at HMIS@thn.org.

What is the most common concern with HMIS?

The most common concern is time management. Often case managers must use multiple systems to enter client information. HMIS feels like one more time-intensive requirement. With any software tool, there is a learning curve. New users are often skeptical for this very reason; however, most users report that HMIS actually saves time and helps them assist clients and manage with greater efficiency.

Does HMIS adhere to client privacy and confidentiality policies?

HMIS is more secure than traditional paper records. The system has several built-in security protocols. First, a multi-level “permissions” structure is governed by passwords. A password allows users to see only the data that is relevant to their organization. A 128-bit data encryption technology – the same technology used for online banking – renders the database unreadable to anyone who attempts an unauthorized breech of the system.

To assist agencies, the project has developed a client ROI (Release of Information), user agreements and a code of conduct. Ultimately, protecting the dignity of those assisted is a shared responsibility. Visit our HMIS Start Kit for more information.

What is the THN HMIS Data Center?

The HMIS Data Center is dedicated to monitor and maintain the HMIS project and provide technical assistance. Our team provides implementation support and TA at over 100 sites across the state.

Our team is guided by the following objectives:

  • To provide the highest quality support to our Continuum of Care partners;
  • To help communities develop information partnerships across the state;
  • To increase program performance through data collection and analysis; and, 
  • To meaningfully contribute to the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. 

HMIS Data Center Team

  • Jesús DeLeón-Serratos, HMIS Project Manager 
  • Victoria Lopez, HMIS Support Desk Specialist
  • Benjamin Mahoney, HMIS Support Desk Specialist
  • Kristin Zakoor, Data Coordinator

About our HMIS Vendor

  • Our software vendor is ClientTrack™ by Eccovia Solutions, located in Salt Lake City, Utah. CT software is compliant with the latest HMIS Data Standards as well as HIPAA privacy standards. For more information about them, please visit their website (https://eccoviasolutions.com/).
  • Do I need to have HMIS installed on my computer?
  • All you need is an internet connection. The faster the connection, the faster the HMIS will run; therefore, a broadband internet connection, such as cable modem, DSL, or ISDN is highly recommended.
  • Can I keep using my existing database?
  • Yes, but duplicate data entry is strongly discouraged. Some agencies maintain separate databases depending on program funding and periodically merge data.

Who can apply?

Providers that serve individuals or families at-risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness with temporary or permanent housing. Agencies must use HMIS if they receive HUD or another funding source that requires the use of HMIS, grantors requiring its use are listed below: 

  • Continuum of Care grant (CoC)
  • Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)
  • Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY)
  • Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)
  • Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF)
  • Shelter Plus Care (S + C)
  • Homeless Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)

Agencies that primarily serve victims of Domestic Violence (DV) are prohibited from using HMIS. THN encourages all agencies serving victims of DV to utilize the database Osnium that the Texas Council for Family Violence (TCFV) recommends and helps to support. If your agency is interested in using Osnium please contact the Texas Council on Family Violence at data@tcfv.org.

 

Pricing and Costs.

As of 2017 the cost for HMIS user licenses is $350 individually and less if purchased in packages of five (5) user licenses.

HUD CoC program grantees are required to purchase two (2) user licenses at the minimum [for the purposes of maintaining data accuracy and quality].
Each user license subscription is one year in length.

  • $350 per user license or;
  • $1,400 for 5 user license package
  • HUD CoC program grantees are required to purchase at minimum (2) user licenses ($700)

HMIS license fees are prorated based on when an agency begins using HMIS. For example, if an agency begins using the system in July, the HMIS invoice is pro-rated for six (6) months for a total of $175 per user; then, in January, this agency will receive an invoice for the year for a total of $350 per user or $1,400 for package of 5.

HMIS can result in cost-neutral or cost savings by reducing the amount of administrative time spent on programs. The HMIS Project makes every effort to ensure that HMIS is not a cost burden. Texas Balance of State as a non-profit organization understands funding constraints.

Are you ready?

Your local Continuum of Care (CoC) is the ultimate authority on HMIS. With the exception of victim service providers, most homeless service programs can participate in the local HMIS. Some CoCs may also permit contributory organizations to participate such as community development offices, advocacy groups, clinics and community courts.

If your program is located in the Texas Balance of State CoC, your program may be eligible to participate in the Texas HMIS project. If your program is located in a different CoC jurisdiction, please contact your HMIS lead agency for more information.

The Implementation Process

The Implementation process has 4 main components. All times are subjective to change, depending on unique interactions with the parts involved.

Getting Started

The first step is to learn about the software features, the application process, pricing and compliance requirements. This session happens by Conference Call and it usually ends when the potential candidate receives the HMIS Application.

Process Evaluation 

After you submit the application, you will be asked to schedule this session. It’s an in-depth planning session to identify the initial requirements and general expectations to design your HMIS experience. The agency must be ready to present information about grants received, project names, services provided. Each setup is unique and we customized the environment to fit each agency needs.

Walkthrough 

A visual walkthrough during which we address any remaining issues and gain formal acceptance on your HMIS configuration.

Training 

Training must be completed prior to gaining access to the system. Training will consist of a combination of online courses and live satellite training with the THN data team, depending on your project needs.  In-person training may be available to new agencies and existing agencies depending on scheduling availability and funding for travel. 

To complete an application, click here.