Archives: Sessions

HMIS Project Set-up 201

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

What are common challenges when completing project-set up in the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)? This session will review advanced project set-up topics, and provide solutions to address common issues.

Joan Domenech, CSH

Meradith Alspaugh, The Partnership Center, Ltd.

HMIS Project Set-up 101

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

What is project-set up in the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)? This session will detail the project set-up requirements and best practices across all Federal Partners that utilize HMIS.

Brian Roccapriore, Cloudburst

Joan Domenech, CSH

Using RHY-HMIS Data to Support Youth Experiencing for Homelessness

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) within HHS oversees the Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Program and RHY-HMIS. Many RHY grantees use data every day to inform their decision-making to best serve homeless youth and young adults, as well as to collaborate, evaluate and fundraise. Data are essential to supporting these efforts at the federal level as well. In 2019, FYSB released the RHY-HMIS Data Dashboard, a tool for data visualizations and report filtering on grantee-, regional-, state- and national-level RHY data generated from HMIS. How does FYSB utilize data on behalf of homeless youth overall? How does a homeless youth service provider utilize data in its efforts in serving their youth and young adults? What takeaways are there for other service agencies? is targeted towards homeless service grantees, CoC members, HMIS Leads and administrators, youth partner organizations and HMIS vendors.

John McGah, Senior TA Specialist, American Instititutes for Research (AIR)

Resa Matthew, Ph.D., Director, Division of Adolescent Development & Support, FYSB/ACF/HHS

Liz Schoenfeld, Ph.D., Director of Research and Evaluation, LifeWorks Austin

Failing Forward: On the Road to Social Impact

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Social service organizations are no strangers to data. However, much of the data that agencies collect is designed to satisfy external stakeholders and is largely shaped by funder requirements and contract compliance. Because of the disproportionate amount of time and attention that is devoted to meeting their reporting requirements, organizations spend considerably less time analyzing their data in ways that would allow them to better understand their clients, refine their programs, or measure their social impact. During this workshop, participants will learn about the complexities (and benefits) of building a learning culture, and how organizations’ internal capacity, infrastructure, executive leadership, and funders collectively impact their ability to leverage data in meaningful ways. In addition to providing attendees with concrete recommendations and opportunities for discussion, the presenters will show selected segments of Failing Forward: On the Road to Social Impact, a short documentary on this topic.

Susan McDowell, CEO, LifeWorks

Kate Robinson, Executive Producer, Failing Foward

Communicating Data for Impact

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Communicating data for impact is about sharing your data so that it engages your stakeholders while driving long-lasting change. It is the last step in the HMIS reporting chain but it may be the most important, as it serves to motivate and inspire your stakeholders. During this session we will cover 1) understanding how to frame your message to inspire action, using proven data communication strategies; and 2) knowing how to convey your data using data visualization and complementary data engagement approaches. We will review how to define your target audience, how to craft your message, and how to tailor your data communication approach to meet your objectives. We will examine data visualization best practices so that you can design data-driven communications that are effective and engaging. We will discuss how to minimize audience biases and protect your published data from misuse. A resource guide will be provided!

Andrea Miller Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) Homeless Texas Network SAFE Alliance

Comparable Databases and VAWA Confidentiality Provision: A Legal Perspective

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking have specific security and safety concerns. Data collection processes developed to comply with HUD CoC or Emergency Solutions Grants program requirements must be carefully planned, implemented, and evaluated regularly – the safety and privacy of survivors depend upon it. This training will highlight best practices for Comparable Database record retention, data entry practices and an overview of HUD Universal Data Elements. Required reporting will also be discussed.
During this session an attorney from Confidentiality Institute and a TA provider from National Network to End Domestic Violence will discuss the requirements of the comparable databases. The goal is to help participants understand what to consider when selecting a Comparable Database for HUD-funded victim service providers in order to be in compliance with HUD and the Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.
No vendors will be endorsed but HUD and VAWA requirements will be highlighted.

Alicia Aiken, Director, Confidentiality Institute

Debbie Fox, Senior Housing Policy & Practice Specialist, NNEDV

Local, State and National Spotlight on Comparable Databases for Victim Service Providers

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

As HUD CoC funding increases with the domestic and sexual violence set aside for programs serving survivors, confidentiality, safety, and data challenges have surfaced for victim service providers and HMIS leads. This session provides an opportunity to hear about best practices locally, statewide, and nationally from a Comparable Database and HMIS leaders in Texas (Austin and Texas statewide) and national technical assistance providers. Conference attendees will participate in a facilitated conversation to discuss key roles for collecting and integrating data into the conversation. Key areas of conversation include: protecting data privacy, building relationships across victim service providers, homeless service providers, state domestic violence coalitions and Continuum of Cares, asking sensitive questions, data sharing and receiving consent, reporting aggregate level data to HMIS leads, Comparable Database technical assistance and training for victim service providers, cross-system coordination, and survivor-centered coordinated entry.

Debbie Fox, Senior Housing Policy & Practice Specialist

Laura Evanoff, LCSW-S, CoC Performance & Monitoring & T.A. Manager, ECHO

Molly Voyles, Public Policy Manager, Texas Council on Family Violence

Preston Petty, Coordinated Entry Program Director

Sophia Checa, Director of Continuum of Care Programs

Erin Goodison, Senior Director of Housing

Homeless Systems Race and Ethnicity Analysis: DO Try This At Home

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Get an overview of the HUD CoC Analysis Tool: Race and Ethnicity and the race and ethnicity analysis shown in Stella P. Hear how Washington State has adapted the HUD CoC Analysis Tool for use at a county level. Finally, hear a case study of a community that has used these tools to identify a disparity in who experiences homelessness in their community compared to who accesses homeless housing programs, and how they plan to address that disparity.

Stephanie Reinauer, Associate, Abt Associates Inc.

Jayme Khoo, Analytics and Visualization Manager, Washington State Department of Commerce

Katie Sly, Data Analytics Manager, Opportunity Council

Racial Equity Analysis in the Coordinated Entry Systems Assessment Process: Findings and Methodology from a Multi-Community Study.

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

The Coordinated Entry System (CES) is a major component of every Continuum of Care’s plan to address homelessness. Every CES utilizes a screening tool to assess for vulnerability, using indicators known to contribute to homelessness such as physical and behavioral health, socioeconomic status, and barriers to housing to generate a score that prioritizes households for various housing interventions, including permanent supportive housing services.

We present a racial equity analysis designed to examine the potential for assessment tools to perpetuate racial inequities in the homeless system. We pose two primary research questions:

1. Are White people more likely to be prioritized into permanent housing compared to BIPOC?
2. Are there variables or methods within assessment tools that can be used to determine vulnerability, and thus housing needs, more equitably?

This session describes methodology for determining whether a CES assessment tool may be perpetuating racial inequities, discusses implications for policy, practice, and research, and makes recommendations for communities and national stakeholders to use CES data to inform further examination and transformation of the CES assessment process.

Catriona Wilkey, Deputy Director of Research & Evaluation, C4 Innovations

C4 Innovations Regina Cannon, Chief Equity and Impact Officer, C4 Innovations

Using Data and Technology to Catalyze Systems Change in Youth Homelessness Initiatives

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Communities across the country are increasing their focus and investment on addressing youth homelessness. Initiatives such as 100-Day Challenges help catalyze community action to reimagine existing systems and to establish bold, creative, and innovative strategies for preventing and ending youth homelessness, including through data-driven decision-making. 100-Day Challenge communities have used data and technology to catalyze change within the youth homeless response system through multiple approaches, including improved data collection and tracking, data sharing, new coordinated entry processes, and refined HMIS data utilization strategies.

The audience will learn how 100-Day Challenge communities are utilizing data-driven decision-making to achieve success in identifying youth experiencing homelessness, making connections to appropriate housing and services, and forging new cross-systems partnerships with data sharing. This presentation will highlight the important role of data in Sacramento’s incredible work to house 266 youth during their 100-Day Challenge and in the community’s ongoing work to address youth homelessness.

Alicia Lehmer, Policy Analyst, Homebase

Peter Bell, Associate Director for Program Sustainability, Wind Youth Services

Changing Demographics of Homeless Populations: Implications for Program Design

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

This session will draw upon data from the AHAR, SSVF Annual Report and Dennis Culhane about the aging homeless population to describe current national trends in homelessness demographics and gauge impacts the crisis response system. For race/ethnicity, presenters will share data illustrating disparities in who experiences homelessness and receives services.

Mark Silverbush, Associate, Abt Associates

Mary Schwartz, Associate, Abt Associates

Data, Dashboards, and Intentional Design – Telling the Story of King County’s Homeless Response System

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

This session will walk participants through the evolution of DCHS’s homeless response system dashboards – from a series of disconnected visuals to a streamlined story. We will share lessons learned and best practices from our experience working with design organizations and community stakeholders as well as developing new methods for analyzing homelessness data. We will provide guidance for other communities getting started with their own dashboards and offer solutions for addressing potential barriers along the way.

Sarah Argodale, Project/Program Manager, King County DCHS

Turning Data Into Decisions: Using Dashboards for Coordinated Entry Planning

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Data collected through a community’s Coordinated Entry system presents opportunities for understanding how the system functions and who it’s working (or not working) for. But without good tools that help communities ask questions and get clear answers, that data can go unused. This session will offer lessons from Minnesota’s experience in developing a data dashboard for Coordinated Entry System data. Presenters will introduce the dashboard, demonstrate how it’s populated with HMIS data, and discuss how Minnesota’s stakeholders use the dashboard – including how they problem-solve when confronted with limitations or challenges in the process. Participants will then have an opportunity to practice designing a dashboard with Coordinated Entry data and facilitating conversations that lead to important system-level insights.

We encourage everyone involved in Coordinated Entry, as well as all those interested in learning about Coordinated Entry through an HMIS data lens, to participate in this session.

Emily Salvaterra, Data Analyst, Institute for Community Alliances

Amy Olsen-Highness, Manager, System Administration, Institute for Community Alliances

Ending Youth Homelessness: Making the Federal Benchmarks & Criteria Measurable and Meaningful

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

As part of the broader federal strategy to end homelessness in the United States, the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) supports the development of coordinated community responses and innovative programming to effectively end youth homelessness by 2020. To support these efforts, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) developed a set of benchmarks and criteria to assess communities’ progress toward making youth homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. But how do communities interpret these guidelines, operationalize them, and use them to guide their day-to-day work? In this workshop, representatives of Austin/Travis County’s YHDP will share their successes and challenges aligning the benchmarks with their local HMIS, and how these experiences impacted the revision of their coordinated community plan, as well as their ongoing efforts to monitor their performance and engage in continuous quality improvement.

Dr. Liz Schoenfeld, Chief Research Officer, LifeWorks

Melissa Wheeler, HMIS Director, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO)

PIT Plus: Collecting Information That Answers Local Questions

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

While CoCs use Point-in-Time (PIT) counts for local planning purposes, these data cannot always inform communities on higher-level questions needed for real system change. Following several years of flat or increasing PIT counts of unaccompanied individuals, the District of Columbia CoC began to look at system inflow and causation but needed better data to understand the specific drivers of homelessness locally. In 2019 the CoC implemented a supplemental, more qualitative survey with its PIT Count — the “PIT Plus” – which was administered to a sample of individuals to understand: 1) what led to their experience(s) of homelessness, 2) what could have prevented it, and 3) where could the CoC have intervened sooner. This session will cover how and with whom the District’s CoC determined its methodology, the survey results, and how the CoC will use the lessons learned in its strategic planning and future program development.

Tom Fredericksen, Chief of Policy and Programs, The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness

Hersh Gupta, Data Scientist, District of Columbia Department of Human Services

Elisabeth Young, Analyst, The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness

The Art of Data

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

How we present data to the public is always changing. Thanks to smartphones, folks now have an average of 7 seconds to gain someone’s attention, so we must strive to be instantly visually appealing. Data storytelling is the key to engage audiences; driving them to learn more about the data we present.

During this session we will talk about how data consumption has changed and how, as data storytellers, we need to present data in a meaningful way. Whether you are creating a one-pager for a fundraising campaign, distilling Point-in-Time count information, or communicating local data quality efforts, a thoughtful infographic may help folks quickly consume your data.

Learn the difference between data visualizations and infographics and when you should use each. We will go into detail on what makes a great infographic, some different types of infographics, and how to present your data in an engaging and eye-catching way.

Kendall Shawhan, Data & Program Analyst, Snohomish County

Stephanie Patterson, Data & Program Analyst, Snohomish County

Leveraging 211 and HMIS for Coordinated Entry: One CoC’s Experience

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Since 2014, the Columbus-Muscogee, Georgia CoC has weathered significant local challenges, including shifts in HMIS implementation and Collaborative Applicant, as well as the development of a new CoC governance model. In the midst of these challenges, the CoC also prioritized the development of a local coordinated entry system that leveraged existing technology (HMIS) and resources (United Way’s 2-1-1). This was not a straightforward or easy effort, particularly since some local providers were very hesitant to trust this new way of working and prior to the launch of this effort there was no local data sharing. Come hear directly from leadership of the Collaborative Applicant and HMIS Lead Agency about how they were able to successfully utilize both HMIS and 2-1-1 for coordinated entry, what lessons they’ve learned along the way, and what suggestions they have for CoCs looking to do the same.

Pat Fry, Executive Director, Home for Good

Natalie Matthews, Associate, Abt Associates Inc.

Reproducible Data Analysis with R Markdown

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

“How did I create that? Is this accurate? Could someone else recreate this report or visualization and get the same results?”

Adopting a reproducible data analysis workflow is important for presenting credible and verifiably accurate data results. With free and open source tools, you can regularly create reproducible data analysis that looks amazing and is easily shared.

R Markdown combines narrative and chunks of code to generate both text and graphical results. Any R Markdown document can refer to any number of data sources and combine them gracefully into one analysis, shareable via HTML, PDF, or Word.

The basic principles of a reproducible data analysis workflow will be covered, including ways in which the more academic definition of “reproducible research” must be slightly limited for our purposes since we are working with more sensitive data.

Genelle Denzin, HMIS Data Analyst, she/her/hers, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO)

Pay for Success funding model to increase Permanent Supportive Housing

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

In Austin, ECHO and Social Finance are working with the City of Austin, Travis County, Central Health, and several other entities to use the Pay for Success financing model to launch a 250-unit Permanent Supportive Housing program. The AT Home program targets Austinites experiencing chronic homelessness who are frequently involved with the criminal justice system and who utilize emergency medical services. Targeted outcomes include housing stability, reductions in jail bookings and jail days, and reductions in inpatient and emergency department utilization. Program components include data matches between ECHO’s HMIS system, the local healthcare information exchange, and the Travis County jail system, and a rigorous evaluation including quasi-experimental and process components. (more…)

Ending Youth Homelessness in Austin/Travis County, Texas: Innovations, Opportunities and Challenges

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

In 2017, Austin/Travis County, Texas, was one of the first 10 communities in the United States selected to be a Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program site. Over the past two years, the local CoC and service providers have been working diligently to bring youth homelessness in Austin to functional zero by 2020—in other words, ensuring that youth homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. In this plenary presentation, attendees will learn about the innovative programming solutions that Austin implemented through the YHDP, as well as how local partners have leveraged data to guide the design of their programs and their day-to-day decision-making. Attendees will receive concrete recommendations for how they can “listen” to their data to refine their programs and better serve youth experiencing homelessness.

Susan McDowell, CEO, LifeWorks

Erin Whelan, Senior Division Director of Housing and Homeless Services, LifeWorks

Liz Schoenfeld, Ph.D., Director of Research and Evaluation, LifeWorks

Good News! Preliminary Agenda is Here!

August 1, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

NHSDC Fall 2019:
Solving Problems and Impacting Communities with Data
October 16-17th in Austin, Texas

Good News! Preliminary Agenda is Here!


Call for Conference Session Proposals

May 21, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Call for Conference Session Proposals

NHSDC Fall 2019 Call for Conference Session proposals


Theme: Solving Problems and Impacting Communities With Data.


The National Human Services Data Consortium (NHSDC) is requesting session proposals for the 2019 Fall Conference in Austin, Texas, on October 15-17, 2019. We are looking for speakers who are excited to share their human services data experiences and expertise with attendees from across the country.

Following this year’s theme, Solving Problems and Impacting Communities With Data, NHSDC is looking for session proposals that continue to move the bar forward on addressing the challenges our communities face.  We want presenters to show how a strong data culture is the key to informing local and federal policies, helping to tackle persistent community challenges and laying the foundation for collaboration across different sectors.  We want to learn how your creative solutions are impacting lives today and enhancing human services programming for the future.


NHSDC welcomes session proposals that demonstrate proficiency in technical application, leadership, collaboration, implementation, innovations and best practices.    For reference, session descriptions and presentations from earlier NHSDC Conferences are available here:


Topic ideas for conference sessions include:

Community Problem Solving: Community leaders, service providers and administrators alike must always think outside the box for creative solutions to their specific issues and community challenges.  Challenges involving data, system performance, privacy and security, funding allocations, population growth, housing availability, system integration and a whole host of other issues are common in every community.   What tools and processes are you using to address and resolve some of the more difficult problems in your community?

Topic Examples:

  • Coordinated Entry (CE) processes and HMIS
  • Solving racial disparities
  • Integrations across different systems – Behavioral Health, Hospitals, Clinics, Managed Care, Schools, Criminal Justice, etc
  • Thinking outside the box to develop new solutions
  • Youth initiatives
  • Innovative programming for hard to serve populations


Collaboration:  Collaboration is essential to building strong foundations that affect the community. Getting input and feedback from all the stakeholders helps bring about effective implementation strategies in human services.  Projects increase the impact of their information exponentially when they effectively collaborate with other data oriented projects. Sessions in this area should explore real strategies for the dissemination of data across multiple sectors and the coordination of these efforts.   


Topic Examples:

  • Integrating data systems for improved client outcomes (VA, HMIS, HHS, etc)
  • Development of project plans for data sharing initiatives
  • Mechanics of communication and negotiation with multiple vendors
  • Addressing the scope and fear of data sharing: technical, legal, and community agreements
  • Why leadership is important in the ever-changing climate of human services.
  • Building a sustainable and adaptable system on a shoestring human services budget


Technical Applications: Show us how technology is being used to collect and tell the stories of your data. Sessions in this area should demonstrate specific uses of technology that have increased the skill sets or capacity to serve within a community. Your audience should walk away with applicable skills to enhance the utilization of human service data systems.

Topic Examples:

  • Advanced uses of technology (BI, GIS, Mobile Devices, Social Media)
  • Technology and applications for data visualizations
  • How to survive LSA
  • Best practices in data collection
  • Creating system performance dashboards
  • Data Warehousing / Interoperability / Comparable Databases

Note: NHSDC Conference attendees represent communities of all sizes and systems of varying levels of sophistication. Sessions that address issues common to any city, as well as the concerns of very small or vast communities, should contain practical information that attendees can apply to their environments.


How To Submit Proposals

May 21, 2019 2019 Fall Conference

Please prepare and submit proposals online at:

by the deadline – 9:00 PM (EDT) on  June 26, 2019.

To prepare for your online submission, please have the following information:

Session Title: 100 Character Maximum

Description: Descriptions should be a concise, narrative description of the content and purpose of the proposed session. Maximum Word Count: 350

Audience and Learning Objectives: Learning objectives that are action-oriented and concisely communicate what you want the audience to learn.

Presenters & Bios: All proposals must include a paragraph that discusses the experience of each speaker (please include names, titles, and organization affiliation in 300 words or less).

Session Contact Information: Please include presenter’s telephone and email contact information. If the proposal consists of a panel or multiple presenters, please identify the individual that will serve as the primary contact for the conference planning committee.


Please note:

  • Session length is 60 minutes and should include time for questions and answers.
  • NHSDC attendees value opportunities to engage in discussion with session presenters and attendees. Interactive sessions are critical in the decision-making process.
  •  If you don’t feel as though your proposal specifically fits one of the NHSDC-identified topics, but feel that it could be beneficial for conference attendees, please feel free to submit your proposal with an additional narrative demonstrating this.
  • NHSDC offers a vendor-neutral conference. Sessions must not promote a specific company, product or service. Vendor-specific references, materials, and screenshots must be excluded from proposal and presentation materials.
  • Presenters chosen for the NHSDC Conference will be offered a discount off the full conference registration price. To qualify for the discount, presenters must register for the conference by the registration deadline. Please note, for panel presentations, discounts will be limited to three presenters.
  • The Conference Committee reserves the right to request a modification of the proposed content, which may include asking presenters to alter their presentation or combine their presentation with similar presentations submitted from other communities.

The Conference Committee anticipates notifying successful proposers on July 16, 2019.
Final presentation materials will be due by September 16, 2019.

Homelessness 101

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

How is homelessness defined, how is it measured and what resources and strategies are available to end it? This session will provide an overview of the homeless services field including the federal definitions of homelessness, expectations for measuring homelessness and the context that our local Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) operate within.

Presenter(s): Gordon Sullivan, Program Manager, Collaborative Solutions; Joan Domenech, Program Manager, CSH

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HMIS Governance 101

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

How does a Continuum of Care (CoC) effectively govern its local Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)? This session will detail the elements of HMIS governance including HMIS-CoC governance agreement(s), CoC-level data management committee(s), regional and statewide governance models and the role of the CoC membership and Board in HMIS management and oversight.

Presenter(s): Leah Rainey, Senior Community Development Specialist and Mike Lindsay, ICF

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Implementing Effective Contract Negotiation and Relationship Management Strategies 101

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

How do Continuums of Care (CoCs) ensure that they have an effective contract with their Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) software provider? This session will review the key components of a contract, the skills necessary to negotiate an agreement, and strategies to hold the HMIS software provider accountable under such contracts.

Presenter(s): Mary Schwartz, Abt; Ryan Burger, ICF

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Orientation to the Stella Performance Module

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

How can the newly released Stella Performance Module be used to evaluate your system to address homelessness? This session will provide an orientation to the Performance Management (PM) module in Stella, including key concepts, available data, and functionality for system evaluation and planning.

Presenter(s): Stephanie Reinauer and Joyce Probst MacAlpine, Senior Associate, Abt

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Introduction to Data-Based Communications

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

How do communities develop targeted, actionable and engaging communications about their data? This session provides an overview of basic audience engagement strategies and how to couple them with data storytelling and develop a local Communications Plan.

Presenter(s): George Martin, Policy Analyst, Homebase; Jamie Taylor, The Cloudburst Group

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Day One Lunch Plenary – Strategic Federal Partnerships in Ending Homelessness

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Federal partners across the government rely on HMIS data to inform policy and programmatic decisions. Speakers from HUD, USICH, ACF, and the VA will outline their strategic partnerships and show how they use HMIS data.

Presenter(s): Abbilyn Miller, Senior Program Specialist, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; John Kuhn, National Director, SSVF, US Department of Veterans Affairs; Resa Matthews, Director, Division of Adolescent Development and Support, Family and Youth Services Bureau; Susan Pourciau, Policy Director, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; Kim Keaton, Director of Data & Analytics, CSH/NHSDC Board 2019 Vice Chair (Moderator)

Recording of session livestream is available here.  


Actionable Night-by-Night Shelter Data

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Last year our five Seasonal Night by Night Emergency Shelters entered over 60,000 individual nights of shelter into HMIS totaling nearly 400,000 nights over the last 6 seasons. This presentation will share the successful visualizations that inspired shelter staff to take ownership of their data and act on behalf of their clients. We will also include a few visualizations that fell flat. From data quality to coordinated entry, data visualization is not just for funders but can become a crucial tool helping shelter staff, case managers and agencies make sense out of this voluminous and rich data set for the benefit of their clients. Examples will include line graphs, bar charts, GANTT charts, scatter plots, integrating NOAA data, charting race and ethnicity, and finding other meaningful client sets beyond demographics. In terms of knowing your audience, we will share anecdotes of knowing this particular audience and how crucial their feedback can be. In each case, we will show how the visualizations lead shelter staff to OWN their data and ACT for their clients.

Presenter(s): Jeremy Heyboer, Data Quality Manager and Lead Trainer, Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County

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Measuring Racial, Ethnic, Gender, and Age Disparities in System and Project Level Performance

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Communities cannot achieve the goal of ending homelessness without proactively addressing the impact of historical and ongoing institutionalized discrimination in housing practices. But in order to adopt strategic frameworks that place equity at their center, communities must understand how to measure inequities currently present in their homelessness systems. This session will share experiences from Your Way Home’s racial equity evaluation with SPARC / The Center for Social Innovation, which blended analysis of quantitative HMIS data, focus groups with homeless service recipients, and interviews with provider staff. Insights from this evaluation (Phase I report forthcoming) have been and will continue to inform future strategic decisions as Your Way Home works to build a more equitable homeless system. The session will demonstrate how a community can investigate HMIS data at the system and project level for areas of inequity in performance across racial, ethnic, gender and age groups. This includes but is not limited to analyses of the general community’s population as compared to the population of individuals served by the homeless system; coordinated entry (triage/ assessment, street outreach, etc.); project enrollment and exit trends; length of stay trends; and geographic mapping of housing placements.

Presenter(s): Greg Barchuk, Your Way Home Montgomery County

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Data Science Tools Combat Systematic Bias to Ensure Equitable and Comprehensive Reporting

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Statistical and machine-learning tools leveraged from the data science community are critical to an organization’s ability to accurately report all populations served. It allows the question, “how many clients were served last year?” to be answered, a basic but often impossible task using HMIS alone. Rhode Island’s Continuum of Care will serve as an example in describing the problem associated with reliance on HMIS for data reporting.

From afar, one might imagine a coordinated network of service providers who seamlessly manage a single database. From this imagined database, reports could be pulled that provide information about all clients served, across and within programs. Dashboards could be created that show the number of people in shelter, or the number of chronically homeless in a CoC. Right now, HMIS is this imaginary database.

HMIS has a high barrier to entry, and as a result, its data is often not comprehensive of the homeless population within a CoC or sometimes even within a single provider. Programs who are not required to use HMIS have little incentive to do so, resulting in their clients missing from HMIS-based analyses. Other programs simply cannot exclusively use HMIS, such as those serving protected populations (i.e. domestic violence programs) or those who also serve the non-homeless (i.e. managed properties).

The near-ubiquity of HMIS facilitates within-CoC standardization and collaborative longitudinal tracking, but its omnipresence may lead to systematic bias resulting in under-reporting of marginalized and at-risk homeless populations. This beginner-level presentation will describe the field of service providers in Rhode Island’s CoC – all of the places that interface with people broadly experiencing homelessness – and the range of databases and reporting methods each uses. The goal is to identify the places where data is being lost and to recognize the impact of this on individual populations.

Presenter(s): Elizabeth McDonnell, Data Scientist, Crossroads

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Consumer Advisory Boards: From Formation & Governance to Impact

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

The planning process for conducting an accurate point in time homeless count in larger regions such as Texas Balance of State, King County, and Dallas can be a daunting undertaking. Like any large project, it is often best to break this work down into manageable tasks and to use lessons learned by others to help inform the process. During this session, we will provide an overview of how open source and free tools can be utilized alongside both open and private data sets to inform the entire count process. Topics to be covered will include recruiting volunteers, using historical data to establish count routes, creating balanced count teams, monitoring the count, establishing a sampling and enumeration methodology (if needed), and using open source tools such as QGIS and Tableau. Also, we will cover using open data sets such as the US Census and the HUD GIS Tools to analyze the data for racial disparities.

Presenter(s): Sasha Caine, Staff Attorney; Nora Lally, Policy Analyst, HomeBase

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Strategic Communications with Non-CoC Partners and the Public

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

What are the various mediums for publishing information related to Continuum of Care (CoC) activities and progress in ending homelessness? This session will include tips on how to develop messages for each media type, developing relationships with journalists, editorial boards, and use of active social media sites.

Presenter(s): Susan Starrett, Associate Director for Federal TA, CSH; Andrea Miller, The Cloudburst Group

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PIT Count Planning and Analysis Aided by Open Data and Open Source Tools

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

The planning process for conducting an accurate point in time homeless count in larger regions such as Texas Balance of State, King County, and Dallas can be a daunting undertaking. Like any large project, it is often best to break this work down into manageable tasks and to use lessons learned by others to help inform the process. During this session, we will provide an overview of how open source and free tools can be utilized alongside both open and private data sets to inform the entire count process. Topics to be covered will include recruiting volunteers, using historical data to establish count routes, creating balanced count teams, monitoring the count, establishing a sampling and enumeration methodology (if needed), and using open source tools such as QGIS and Tableau, and using open data sets such as US Census and the HUD GIS Tools to analyze the data for racial disparities.

Presenter(s): Eddie Barber, Lead Developer, Simtech Solutions Inc.; Danielle Winslow, Acting Deputy Director, All Home King County; Kristin Zakoor, Assistant Director of Data, Texas Homeless Network

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At the Intersection of Data Entry, Reporting, and Performance

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (ACDHS) is the CoC Collaborative Applicant and HMIS Lead Agency. As such, it is equipped with a robust program monitoring staff, infrastructure, and processes. For the past three years, this has included a position solely devoted to monitoring HMIS data quality and program performance. The program data specialist conducts on-going monitoring of individual program data entry, with a focus on data completeness, accuracy, timeliness and program performance. This position has facilitated a stronger, more hands-on approach to tackling specific data entry issues, improving connections and bridging a gap with service providers, and more accurate reporting and data analysis. The original focus was on monitoring the data quality and timeliness of each program across the system. During this time, data monitoring took a very hands-on approach. After a few months of devoted data monitoring and technical assistance, the quality of the data improved drastically with most programs showing little to no errors on the data quality report. The focus on basic data entry better acclimated the service providers with their data entry processes and assisted in building a positive rapport with the Collaborative Applicant/HMIS Lead. With the drastic improvements in data quality, data monitoring shifted it’s the focus to individual program performance. This transition produces a better connection between services and reporting. Programs receive both their individual information and the aggregate information for their specific program type, both in visual form. Including both pieces is vital to harvest accountability and foster a sense of competition among programs. Often, after the providers receive this information, they reach out to discuss issues or rework business processes to improve performance. This allows the data specialist to develop best practices for data entry and understand their implications on reporting and system performance. There have been drastic improvements in data quality, timeliness, the accuracy of data and provider relationships since the inception of the program data specialist position. This position has been vital to ACDHS and data management and is a best practice that other CoC can learn from and make plans to replicate.

Presenter(s): Jessica McKown, Program Data Specialist, Allegheny County Department of Human Sevices

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Setting Performance Expectations of CoC Funded Grantees Using Project Performance Scorecards

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Collaborative applicants have a variety of responsibilities and on-going
duties that they are accountable for when operating a Continuum of Care – such as implementing a Coordinated Entry system, developing written standards, and setting performance expectations and monitoring plans for not only CoC funded grantees but the community as a whole. This session will highlight how the Collaborative Applicant for the San Antonio/ Bexar County Continuum of Care has approached setting performance expectations and how they monitor progress on the System Performance Measures through the use of quarterly scorecards that were built out in the HMIS. The presenters will discuss how the scorecards were developed using metrics and thresholds that are relevant for each project type, how they interact with the annual NOFA competition, and how they help inform system-level planning and prioritizing needs for the community. After the presentation, session attendees will have the opportunity to practice developing project scorecards with definitions that they can take back to help inform future development of monitoring and evaluations plans in their own communities.

Presenter(s): Jayde Beebe, South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless

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Learning Together to End Youth Homelessness

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

The A Way Home America Community Dashboard is a nationwide initiative that brings together communities from across the country to jointly track their progress towards ending youth homelessness and learn from one another. In this session, attendees will learn about the overall initiative, in particular about the focus on the youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth. AWHA is committed to centering the challenge of ending youth homelessness on the youth who are most likely to experience it – youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth. The AWHA Community Dashboard is a unique initiative that supports communities in understanding their success in housing youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth. The session will discuss the metrics used to track this success, why they were chosen and other options that communities could consider. One participating community will co-present this session to
share with attendees how they have put the AWHA Community Dashboard into action in their own community. This session will provide attendees with ideas about how they can measure their own progress and ensure they are paying attention to disproportionality in their own community.

Presenter(s): Keianna Pierre Louis, Contractor/Grants Coordinator, Palm Beach County Division of Human and Veteran Services; Margaret Woley, A Way Home America

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Connecticut’s HMIS Journey and Lessons Learned

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

A comprehensive (but quick) view of Connecticut’s adventures in data integration and sharing. Learn about the things CT has done to push data collection, exchange, and reporting. Learn from both our successes and our mistakes. Take a look at tools, reports, and relationships CT has built to serve our populations and funders better.

Presenter(s): Jim Bombaci, VP of Operations, James Buckley, VP of Research and Development, and Russ Comier, CEO, Nutmeg Consulting

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Simpler, Smoother, Swifter, Stronger: Actionable Coordinated Entry Evaluation

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

The past few years have been ones of significant change for our homeless response systems. Communities across the country have designed and implemented unique approaches to coordinated entry and are now looking to evaluate the impact their systems are having on the delivery of housing and services to people experiencing homelessness. Thorough and impartial evaluations are enabling CoCs to make refinements to make more effective use of resources, reach more persons experiencing homelessness, prioritize the most vulnerable, resolve households’ homelessness as quickly as possible, and adequately support the professionals that operate coordinated entry. This session will cover strategies for designing and carrying out an annual evaluation that will not only fulfill HUD requirements but will enable a CoC to optimize the coordinated entry process. We will discuss what Santa Clara County and Maricopa County have learned through their annual evaluations and how the CoCs are using this knowledge to strengthen their coordinated entry systems. We will cover how to develop a scope of analysis based on federal and local priorities by determining what the CoC wants to know about the system, what values stakeholders want to be reflected in the process, and what challenges have been identified so far. We will discuss how to formulate specific questions and determine which sources to consult for answers. We will examine how and when to employ interviews, focus groups, surveys, and HMIS data analysis to obtain information and analyze system strengths and gaps. Most importantly, we will share strategies for ensuring a coordinated entry system evaluation is actionable and highlight how the Santa Clara County CoC and Maricopa Regional CoC have refined their systems to be simple, smoother, swifter, stronger.

Presenter(s): Sasha Caine, Staff Attorney and George Martin, Policy Analyst, HomeBase; Kathryn Kaminski, Continuum of Care Quality Improvement Manager, Office of Supportive Housing County of Santa Clara

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Whatever it Takes, Wherever it Is: Leveraging Data Across Disciplines to House Super-Utilizers

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

The Santa Monica Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team (HMST), jointly funded by the City of Santa Monica/County of Los Angeles and operated by nonprofit The People Concern, provides street-based medical and behavioral health interventions to the 25 highest utilizers of local emergency services. The team, consisting of behavioral health clinicians, medical providers, and a peer specialist, provides services wherever participants might be—on the streets, in shelters, jails, hospitals, parks, libraries, and courtrooms—in an effort to address housing and supportive service needs. Strategic partnerships and open two-way communication with a variety of stakeholders (including police, fire, and hospital personnel) empower HMST to do “whatever it takes” to support participants while seeking a reduction in emergency service utilization. Since its launch in 2016, HMST has engaged 29 high utilizers, placing 25 into housing and dramatically reducing the cohort’s cumulative use of costly public resources. A forthcoming mixed-methods evaluation of HMST, conducted by RAND Corporation, will illuminate the successes and challenges of HMST while providing recommendations to communities seeking to address the disproportionate impact the highest utilizers have on emergency services. This session will discuss the beginnings of HMST, a process by which police/fire/hospital data determined the initial cohort, interventions deployed by HMST and partners, and how data is shared and analyzed across traditionally siloed systems.

Presenter(s): J. Scott Ashwood, Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation; Zachary Coil, Program Director, The People Concern; Brian Hargrave, Senior Human Services Analyst, City of Santa Monica Human Services

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Leveraging Data to Increase Access to Early Care and Education for Children Who are Homelessness

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Data on young children’s housing status are limited and unreliable (Bires et al., 2018). Differences in data collection methods across federal agencies make it difficult to provide accurate estimates of the proportion of children birth to five experiencing homelessness in the US. This makes providing care and services to families experiencing homelessness challenge. However, we know that high-quality early care and education (ECE) can help children overcome some of the negative effects homelessness has on their development and well-being (Valdez-Bain, 2017). The purpose of this project was twofold: (1) to understand how states and communities use data to identify these families and (2) to explore promising practices and challenges around data used to identify and reach families experiencing homelessness. Key respondents were interviewed from agencies at the state, county, or local level within a set of six selected states and communities to further explore the data sources that states and communities use to identify families experiencing homelessness, and to provide examples of how states and communities are supporting the enrollment of families experiencing homelessness in ECE. Across states and communities, respondents reported limitations to the ECE and housing data sources they use to identify families experiencing homelessness. Respondents reported that neither the ECE systems nor the housing system is adequately identifying and providing outreach to families experiencing homelessness. Respondents discussed concerns around the lack of a shared definition of homelessness across agencies. These definitional differences affect agencies’ understanding of who is and is not eligible to receive services set aside for families experiencing homelessness. This is especially the case for families living doubled up. In fact, all respondents reported difficulty with integrating families living doubled up into their service system (both for housing and ECE services), even those relying on the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness. Respondents indicated that focusing on data sharing and collaboration across systems would improve the quality of data on young children’s housing status. By developing a clear picture of this population, states and communities can develop practices and resources to better address the early learning needs of this extremely vulnerable population.

Presenter(s): Ashley Hirilal, Research Analyst and Sara Shaw, Early Childhood Development Research Scientist, Child Trends

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Holistic Approaches to System Evaluation & Planning Including Housing Market and Disparities Analyses

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Understanding the homeless system performance. Focus Strategies regularly assists communities with efforts to measure performance and understand outcomes in relation to system planning efforts, drawing upon HUD’s system performance metrics and other strategies that call upon local data to understand performance. This session will focus on how communities may take a holistic, action-oriented approach to performance analysis through a specific set of metrics and strategies. It will address how these approaches provide an opportunity to integrate the investigation of disparities that exist in communities’ homeless response systems, while also considering local housing market conditions. Drawing upon a comprehensive list of performance measures (including those developed by HUD and Focus Strategies), we will illustrate how each metric illuminates different system elements and how they work cohesively to reveal patterns within the system. Focus Strategies will present community examples and discuss how analytic approaches are used to identify indicators of high-performing programs. We will illustrate how communities may apply these strategies to identify specific programs to target for improvement. This holistic approach to performance measures enables communities to identify a defined course of action in efforts to reduce homelessness. Further, as the prevalence of racial and ethnic disparities in access to and utilization of homeless system interventions continue to be of concern, communities are encouraged to address racial inequities in their system analyses and planning efforts. Our session will address how suggested performance measures and analytic approaches may help communities identify and tackle disparities at different points in the system – including system access and program utilization. We will draw attention to key considerations in data interpretation (e.g., how to avoid drawing the wrong conclusion), as well as implications for system level policy development of different patterns of findings. As tightening housing market conditions increasingly affect communities’ systemic responses to homelessness, Focus Strategies has assisted several communities in interpreting local housing market data in relation to homeless system planning efforts and goals. Our presentation will incorporate emerging housing market analytics, community examples, as well as methods for interpreting findings to determine best-fit strategies for reducing homelessness.

Presenter(s): Tracy Bennett, Director of Analytics and Evaluation, Michael Hatch, Analytics Consultant, and Genevieve Williamson, Chief Analyst, Focus Strategies

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Developing a Data Monitoring Tool to Measure System Health

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

This session is designed to demonstrate an innovative data-monitoring tool CoCs can develop to use and explore a CoC’s HMIS data and monitor outcomes important to the community. Presenters will provide participants with an overview of how the monitoring tool was developed, the planning involved, the roles of key staff/stakeholders, and culminate with a suggested process to develop such a tool. The focus of the session will be twofold: 1) to show the power of the planning effort undergone to develop the monitoring tool; and 2) to highlight the flexibility of the tool to not only measure data quality but also assess the overall health of the CoC in terms of how quickly and effectively clients are able to access and receive the resources they need to stabilize in housing. Presenters will also share the challenges experienced in synthesizing and distilling the data necessary to identify and track key outcomes.

Presenter(s): Maureen Brewer, County Continuum of Care Manager and Alissa Parrish, HMIS Project Manager, City of Boise; Mike Lindsay, Senior Technical Specialist, ICF

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Protecting Data in an HMIS Environment: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

How can a Continuum of Care (CoC) ensure that its Coordinated Entry (CE) system securely leverages its Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)? This session will provide an in-depth review and discussion of HUD privacy and security guidance on the use of HMIS in a CE system.

Presenter(s): Mike Lindsay, ICF; Gordon Sullivan, Program Manager, Collaborative Solutions

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HMIS Lead Monitoring

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

How can a Continuum of Care (CoC) objectively and comprehensively monitor its HMIS Lead Agency? This session will provide CoC leadership with the skills to provide regular and thorough monitoring of its HMIS Lead, including sample monitoring tools and practices.

Presenter(s): Ryan Burger, ICF; Mary Schwartz, Abt

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Breakfast Plenary Day Two – Nashville’s Efforts to End Homelessness – Embracing Change and Looking to the Future

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

Nashville’s CoC has undergone a substantial amount of change in recent years. Hear from locals about what they’ve done to navigate the process of CoC leadership, and what the future looks like in Nashville.

Presenter(s): Judith Tackett, Nashville Department of Social Services

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System Performance Improvement: Part 1 – Analyzing Performance

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

This session is for CoC leadership and will explore how to use system performance data in conjunction with other data sources and data reports to identify factors contributing to performance results. Attendees will learn how to create a performance analysis plan to identify system- and project- level strengths and barriers.

Presenter(s): Joyce Probst MacAlpine, Senior Associate, Abt; Sarah Kahn, The Cloudburst Group

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Data Quality 201: Strategies to Check the Accuracy of Your System

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

What are effective strategies to check the accuracy of a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)? This session will describe how to review the results of HMIS reports to identify potential issues with the accuracy of programming as well as potential data quality issues.

Presenter(s): Alissa Parrish, ICF; Natalie Matthews, Technical Assistance (TA) Provider, Abt

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Strategies for Evaluating and Monitoring Coordinated Entry

April 10, 2019 2019 Spring Conference

What are effective practices to evaluate and monitor a Coordinated Entry (CE) system? This session will explore both requirements and promising practices for local CE monitoring and evaluation efforts, including sample monitoring tools and evaluation reports.

Presenter(s): Susan Starrett, Associate Director for Federal TA, CSH; George Martin, Policy Analyst, Homebase

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