Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS)

The Howard County Continuum of Care for Homeless Services is administered by the Department of Community Resources and Services, with the Howard County Board to Promote Self Sufficiency serving in an advisory capacity. The Continuum utilizes internet-based technology, known as ServicePoint, to assist homeless service organizations in Howard County capture information about the clients they serve.

One of the Continuum’s goals is to determine the extent and nature of homelessness in Howard County. This is accomplished through analysis and release of data that are grounded in the actual experiences of homeless persons, and the service providers who assist them, in shelters and homeless assistance programs throughout the county. Information is analyzed to determine an unduplicated count, then aggregated (void of any identifying client level information), and made available to policy makers, service providers, advocates, and consumer representatives.

Potential benefits for homeless men, women, children, and case managers: 

  • Through the use of ServicePoint, case managers can assess their clients’ needs to inform clients about services offered on site or available through referral. 
  • Case managers and clients can use on-line resource information to learn about resources that help clients find and keep permanent housing or meet other goals clients have for themselves. 
  • Service coordination can be improved when information is shared among case management staff within one agency or with staff in other agencies (with written client consent) who are serving the same clients.

Potential benefits for agency and program managers: 

  • Once aggregated, information can be used to garner a more complete understanding of clients’ needs and outcomes, and then used to advocate for additional resources, complete grant applications, conduct evaluations of program services, and report to funders such as HUD. ServicePoint has the capability to generate the HUD Annual Performance Report (APR).

Potential benefits for the Howard County Continuum of Care and policy makers:

  • Involvement in the project provides the capacity to programs within the Continuum to generate automated APRs, access aggregate reports that can assist in completion of the HUD required Unmet Need chart and other reports, and to utilize the aggregate data to inform policy decisions aimed at addressing and ending homelessness at local, state, and federal levels.