A Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is an online database that enables organizations to collect data on the services they provide to people experiencing homelessness and people who are at risk for homelessness.
The HMIS has state-of-the art security features that ensure data remains strictly confidential; data is only provided to other agencies upon the permission of the client.
Seattle/King County uses this data to generate numerous types of reports that improve the ability of local organizations to provide access to housing and services, and strengthen our efforts to end homelessness. No identifiable information is included in these reports.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires any organization that provides services to homeless persons or those at risk of homelessness to enter data into the Seattle/King County HMIS.
Several examples include:
Our goal is to incorporate the data collected from all of these organizations in order to create a comprehensive view of homelessness in Seattle/King County so that we can better serve those in need.
The Seattle/King County HMIS uses data and reporting to meet the following objectives:
Benefits for individuals and families who experience homelessness include:
Benefits for agency directors and program managers include:
Benefits for public policy makers and advocates include:
Finally, HMIS meets a federal mandate, thus improving the Seattle/King County chances of continuing to receive at least its current level of HUD McKinney-Vento funding.
Potential risks of HMIS, like any system designed to manage protected data, include risks to personal privacy. Data privacy has been emphasized at every step in the development and operation of the Seattle/King County HMIS, from choosing software, to designing client notices, and crafting system-wide policies and procedures.
Seattle/King County utilizes the Clarity Human Services software as their HMIS. The Clarity Human Services data security model is extremely effective, and only allows people to see client information that they have permission to see. Additionally, before being able to use the system, agencies and end users within agencies must sign agreements indicating that they will uphold rigorous data privacy standards. Also, no personally identifiable information is made available to HUD via Seattle/King County’s HMIS.