Chronic Homeless Definition Change: How it Will Help

From the USICH Blog

12/04/2015 – Achieving an End to Chronic Homelessness: How the Final Definition Will Help

By Richard Cho, Deputy Director

This morning, HUD published the Final Rule on Defining “Chronically Homeless,” providing a final Federal definition of the population of people experiencing chronic homelessness. This final definition (which has been in the works for a few years now) fixes a long-standing ambiguity that has been around since the original definition was established—an ambiguity which may have reduced our impact in ending chronic homelessness. The final definition does so in a way that gets us closer to the originally intended target population—the subset of people with high service needs and disabilities who, if not provided with long-term housing assistance and supportive services (e.g. permanent supportive housing), would likely remain homeless.

Sharing this view is Dr. Dennis Culhane, who was one of the researchers who discovered…click here to read the whole story.

Data Can Help Drive Progress

From the USICH Blog

12/03/2015 – Sustaining our Data-Driven Focus: Findings and Implications of Recent Data Releases

By Matthew Doherty, Executive Director

Data can help drive progress – if we use it well and wisely. That’s true for communities and it is true for the multiple interagency working groups USICH convenes to make Federal policy decisions to help end homelessness across America. We believe in data-driven decision-making so strongly that the recently amended Federal plan to prevent and end homelessness, Opening Doors, puts an even greater emphasis on the importance of data for decision-making and performance management.

A great deal of very important data has been released…click here to read the whole story.

How Data is Ending Chronic Homelessness in Maine

From the USICH Blog

11/24/2015 – How Data is Ending Chronic Homelessness in Maine

By Cullen Ryan

In rural Maine, as I imagine it is in other rural areas, it has been difficult to track down our chronically homeless population. Bouncing through small shelters several months at a time, people remained homeless for years, while not appearing “chronic” to any one shelter. The result: Our shelter system was becoming congested with people homeless for very long periods of time, using beds night after night. We invented an approach to more easily identify and target the people staying the longest, and the results are impressive.

The Maine Statewide Homeless Council decided….click here to read the whole story on USICH website.

USICH NEW GUIDANCE: Ending Youth Homelessness Through a Coordinated Community Response

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness just published an article about ending youth homelessness through a coordinated community response. Visit their website to read more about their vision and to read their briefing about how with Opening Doors they set a national goal to prevent and end youth homelessness by 2020.

Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness, a Coordinated Community Response (PDF)

2014 HMIS Data Standards Changes

HUD Releases Critical Changes to the 2014 HMIS Data Standards

HUD and its federal partners have released critical updates to the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Data Standards. The revised HMIS Data Manual and HMIS Data Dictionary are now available on the HUD Exchange. These changes were identified as critical by HUD and the federal partners because the data is needed for reporting purposes for the various partner programs. Every effort was made to determine if the necessary information could be obtained through data elements currently in the 2014 HMIS Data Manual and Dictionary. In these few cases an element either needed to be changed or an element needed to be added.

The following data elements have been modified or added in the updated Manual and Dictionary:

Modified 3.17 Time on the Streets, Emergency Shelters or Safe Haven
Modified 4.11 Domestic Violence
New 4.14e Bed Night Date
New 4.35a Commercial Sexual Exploitation (Used only by RHY)
New 4.35b Labor Exploitation (Used only by RHY)
New 4.44 HP Screening Score (Used only by VA)
New 4.45 VAMC Station Number (Used only by VA)
New 4.47 T-cell and Viral Load (Used only by HOPWA)

Additional clarification was added throughout the Manual in response to Frequently Asked Questions. These changes were prepared by HUD in collaboration with their federal partners: HUD’s Office of HIV/AIDS Housing; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau.

Effective Date of the Changes

The changes go into effect October 1, 2015. Communities are expected to review the changes and work with their vendor to prepare a training strategy in advance of that date so HMIS users can begin entering data under the updated data standards starting on October 1, 2015. Vendors have already received detailed information about these changes and are working on programming modifications.

Guidance on Back Data Entry

We understand that communities face challenges when working through how to enter data for active clients (or clients with “open” files) on the date the updated standards go into effect. HUD has developed guidance addressing this. It is posted with the updated HMIS Data Manual and the HMIS Data Dictionary.

Impact on APRs, AHAR, and Other Reports

Additional clarification about the impact of these changes on reporting requirements, including reporting to federal partner programs, will be issued in a separate HUD Exchange email message shortly.

Questions about the Data Standards?

If you have questions about the data standards, please submit them through the HUD Exchange Ask a Question (AAQ) portal. On Step 2 of the question submission process, select “HMIS” in the “My question is related to” dropdown.

Visit the HUD Exchange at

2014 HMIS Data Standards – Federal Partner Program HMIS Manuals Published by HUD

Six new manuals have been prepared, in partnership with other federal agencies requiring Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) participation, to assist HMIS Lead Agencies and Continuums of Care (CoCs) to correctly set up projects in HMIS. Guides for the following programs have been posted:

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