Latest Changes to HMIS Data Standards

Attention HMIS Users – The latest changes to the HUD 2014 Data Standards (announced previously here) will be implemented Thursday, October 1st. You’ll see these changes when you enter Entry information in the HUD Assessment, along with written guidance from HUD on how to ask clients for this information. Already completed Entry Assessments will also show the new data element configuration, with existing answers migrated into the new version.

Social Solutions has described these changes in detail for HMIS customers in this slide show. Please review this information in order to better understand the changes and how existing data were used to determine answers to new questions.

Please direct any questions or issues to me via email at or feel free to call me at 617-349-6966.

HUD releases update to 2014 HMIS Data Standards

Yesterday, HUD released information pertaining to updates made to the latest HMIS data standards. While the majority of changes are relevant only to projects funded under RHY, VA or HOPWA, one major modification made represents changes to the series of questions asked at entry about the length of time someone has been homeless. These questions are referred to as “Time on Streets, Emergency Shelters or Safe Haven.”

The changes will go into effect on October 1, 2015, and information obtained from the current version of these questions will be migrated over to the new set by our vendor. Below is a screen shot from the updated HMIS Data Manual that shows the presentation of the new elements. Please refer to the manual itself for more guidance and information on asking these questions at the point of entry. We will also offer more guidance prior to the October release date.

3.17 Time on Streets ES or Safe Haven

MassHealth vs. State Health Insurance within the HMIS Assessment

When completing the Health Insurance section of the HUD Assessment for clients, please note that A-134 – Is the client covered by Medicaid? corresponds to MassHealth. In Massachusetts, MassHealth is synonymous with Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — combined in one program.

A-148 – Is the client currently covered by state health insurance for adults? should be answered with a “yes” only if the client is enrolled in ConnectorCare, a program for individuals or families in Massachusetts that are at or below 300 times the federal poverty level.

If you have any questions on how to answer the Health Insurance or any other type of HMIS questions, please call 617-349-6966 or email

Update for Cambridge HMIS Users

At the March HSPC meeting I provided an overview of the changes to the HMIS data standards that are specific to CoC and ESG program funded projects. The handout from that meeting is linked below, and it is an updated version of the summary document published in September of 2014.

Summary of 2014 HMIS Data Standards (March 2015)

In addition, HMIS users should be aware of current software and workflow issues that may be confusing when working with active clients’ assessment records:

Issue: You are completing an Update or Annual Assessment for a client whose previous information was entered when the 2010 Data Standards were in effect — Whether you populate from a previous assessment or not, the TouchPoint record will include questions that should only be answered at Entry (A-4 through A-20). Since these are coded as required, you won’t be able to submit your other current information unless they are answered. However, answering these questions at any point other than Entry will not properly record the data needed for reporting purposes.

Solution: You should first edit the Entry assessment for the client, answering the questions on the first tab as well as any required and not answered on subsequent tabs, and then submit. Therefore, you will have updated the client’s record with 2014 Data Standards at the point where the answers will be captured for reporting. You can then complete the Update or Annual assessment TouchPoint, and if you populate from the previous assessment, you won’t be prompted to answer questions only required at Entry.

Issue: You are completing an Update or Annual Assessment and you choose to populate from the previous one taken, in order to bring in data that haven’t changed, including earned income. However, you notice the previous income information did not come over. 

Solution: You will need to be mindful of noting the type of income (assuming it is the same source since the last assessment) and the amount (again, if this has stayed the same) and enter this information over again. Of course, if this is part of what you are updating or recording as changed in an Update or Annual assessment, record the new information.

We recognize that these software issues add layers of confusion and extra work for staff entering data at this point in time. The vendor is aware of the issues and Cambridge and other HMIS leads are working to get improvements.

Please don’t hesitate to call me or your HMIS Site administrator if you get stuck or have any questions.

Cambridge ESG Request for Proposals

The City of Cambridge’s Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP) is pleased to announce a RFP for Cambridge’s FY2016 entitlement Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program. This application is for services to be delivered from July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016. This RFP is open to all nonprofit organizations providing homeless shelter and/or outreach programs in Cambridge.  For further details, please use the links below for the RFP  document and associated application materials.

Applications must be submitted to Michelle McCarthy, Planner/Contract Manager by Friday, April 8, 2015 at 5:00 PM.

Cambridge FY16 ESG RFP (PDF)

FY16 ESG RFP Cover Narrative (download)

FY16 ESG Budget Spreadsheet (download)

Living Wage Fact Sheet (PDF)

Guidance for 2014 Data Elements

You’ve been using the 2014 Data elements to collect data since October 2014. But what about all your active clients that were already enrolled in HMIS with data from 2010 Data Standards? Do you have to go into all those active client records and update them now?

The answer is no. HUD and other federal partners using the new data standards recognize that this year is a “transition time.” For existing enrollments, you should plan to update them:

  • at the next time of update (when you have new information to record about your client’s income, disability, benefits, etc.)
  • when it’s time for an annual assessment
  • at project exit

At the time that you are completing assessments, you should also view/edit client demographics in order to fill in the new data elements that are now on that screen.