By Eric Grumdahl, USICH Policy Director
Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the 2014 HMIS Data Dictionary and HMIS Data Manual, with an effective date of October 1, 2014. This joint release demonstrates significant collaboration between the three agencies to support data collection on homelessness across their programs and systems.
These data standards mark a significant step toward alignment of data on homelessness across Federal programs. HUD and its Federal partners are also drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that defines how the agencies will coordinate on homeless data collection and reporting into the future.
The new standards will allow a broader range of Federal programs to have commensurate data on homelessness. Over the long term, for service providers funded by multiple Federal programs, the new data standards can simplify how providers satisfy reporting requirements, as well as help to organize and compile data to support community-level planning.
The standards also reflect the expertise of multiple agencies and their grantees: having youth data in HMIS shaped by the wisdom of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families and their grantees makes HMIS a stronger system on youth homelessness, just has having the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) SSVF grantees enter data in HMIS makes HMIS a more effective tool to end Veteran homelessness.
Achieving these benefits will require changes at a community level applying the new data standards. HUD is fielding questions about the 2014 HMIS Data Standards at the OneCPD Ask a Question page. (On Step 2, select HMIS from the “My question is related to” drop down.) As mentioned in the announcement, stay tuned for additional materials and guidance from HUD and its Federal partners to support communities in implementing these standards.
Data drives homelessness policy and has guided Federal investments in the programs that are most effective at ending homelessness. These data standards emphasize the critical role that data will play as the nation makes progress toward this goal.