Glossary of HMIS Definitions and Acronyms
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Administration for Children and Families (ACF) – A division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ACF has a budget for 65 programs that target children, youth and families, including for assistance with welfare, child support enforcement, adoption assistance, foster care, childcare, and child abuse.
Alliance of Information & Referral Systems (AIRS) – The professional association for more than 1,000 community information and referral (I&R) providers serving primarily the United States and Canada. AIRS maintains a taxonomy of human services.
Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) – A report submitted to Congress by HUD that provides national and regional data on homelessness and the effectiveness of homeless assistance programs.
Annual Progress Report (APR) – Report that tracks program progress and accomplishments in HUD`s competitive homeless assistance programs. The APR provides the grantee and HUD with information necessary to assess each grantee`s performance.
Assessment – The process of gathering information about a homeless individual or family’s history, needs, and resources to determine the most appropriate services and supports.
Audit Trail – A record showing who has accessed a computer system and what operations he or she has performed during a given period of time. Most database management systems include an audit trail component.
Bed Utilization – An indicator of whether shelter beds are occupied on a particular night or over a period of time.
Biometrics – Refers to the identification of a person by computerized images of a physical feature, usually a person’s fingerprint.
Chronic Homelessness – A condition where an individual or family experiences homelessness for a year or longer or has multiple episodes of homelessness over a period of several years.
Chronically Homeless Individuals – Individuals who have experienced homelessness for at least one year or more, or who have experienced multiple episodes of homelessness that total at least one year and have a disabling condition. To be considered chronically homeless, persons must have been sleeping in a place not meant for human habitation (e.g., living on the streets) and/or in an emergency homeless shelter during that time.
Client Intake – The process of collecting client information upon entrance into a program.
Client Record – A comprehensive electronic record for a homeless individual or family that includes demographic information, service history, and other relevant data.
ClientTrack – A comprehensive case management platform that helps health and human service organizations track, manage, and report on populations with complex needs. It is one of the products offered by Eccovia Solutions, formerly known as ClientTrack Inc., which has been providing SaaS technology solutions for over 1300 clients across North America since 1998.
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) – A flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD. The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1,180 general units of local and State governments.
Consumer – An individual or family who has or is currently experiencing homelessness.
Continuum of Care (CoC) – A community-wide approach to addressing homelessness that involves a collaboration between various organizations, agencies, and service providers to organize and deliver housing and services that meet the specific needs of homeless individuals and families. This includes a unified plan to coordinate and deliver resources to help people move to stable housing and maximize self-sufficiency. HUD funds many homeless programs and HMIS implementations through Continuums of Care grants.
Coordinated Entry – A process for ensuring that homeless individuals and families have access to the most appropriate services and housing resources based on their needs and priorities.
Coverage – A term commonly used by CoCs or homeless providers to refer to the number of beds represented in an HMIS divided by the total number of beds available.
Covered Homeless Organization (CHO) – Any organization (including its employees, volunteers, affiliates, contractors, and associates) that records, uses, or processes data on homeless clients for an HMIS. The requirements of the HMIS Final Notice apply to all Covered Homeless Organizations.
Data Analysis – The process of examining and interpreting HMIS data collected within a system to identify trends, measure program outcomes, inform policy and funding decisions, and identify areas for improvement. This involves analyzing data to identify patterns and trends and using the results to inform decisions related to policy and funding.
Data Collection – The process of gathering information on homeless individuals and families for entry into the HMIS database, often through intake forms or client interviews.
Data Entry – The process of inputting information into the HMIS database, often performed by service providers or data entry personnel.
Data Quality – The accuracy, completeness, consistency, and timeliness of data collected, entered, and reported within an HMIS system, often monitored through data validation and quality assurance processes.
Data Privacy – The protection of personal and confidential information collected within an HMIS system, often through policies, procedures, and security measures that ensure data is only accessed by authorized individuals, used for its intended purposes, and kept confidential and secure.
Data Sharing – The process of sharing HMIS data with authorized individuals or organizations for the purpose of improving service delivery, informing policy decisions, and measuring program outcomes.
Data Standards – The guidelines and specifications for collecting, storing, and sharing HMIS data, established by HUD to ensure consistency and comparability across different programs and systems.
Data Validation – The process of verifying the accuracy and completeness of HMIS data, often through manual or automated checks to identify errors or inconsistencies.
Data Visualization – The use of charts, graphs, and other visual aids to present HMIS data in a more accessible and understandable format.
Date of Birth (DOB) – The date a person was born.
Dedicated HMIS – The cost of the HMIS implementation is its own component in the SuperNOFA project exhibit
De-identification – The process of removing or altering data in a client record that could be used to identify the person. This technique allows research, training, or other non-clinical applications to use real data without violating client privacy.
Department of Education (DOE)
Digital Certificates – An attachment to an electronic message used for security purposes. The most common use of a digital certificate is to verify that the user sending a message is who he or she claims to be and to provide the receiver with the means to encode a reply.
Disabling Condition – A disabling condition in reference to chronic homelessness is defined by HUD as a diagnosable substance use disorder, serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability, including the co-occurrence of two or more of these conditions. A disabling condition limits an individual`s ability to work or perform one or more activities of daily living.
Domestic violence (DV) – A pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner to gain power and control over the other partner, which can also occur between family members. It can take various forms, such as physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation, and threats of violence. While emotional, psychological, and financial abuse may not be criminal behaviors, they are still forms of abuse that can lead to criminal violence. DV can range in mode, frequency, and severity, causing psychological or physical harm and the need for treatment. It is essential to recognize and address all forms of domestic violence to protect those affected and prevent further harm.
Electronic Housing Inventory Chart (eHIC)
Electronic Special Needs Assistance Program (e*SNAPs) – The electronic update from HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPs) in the Office of Community Planning and Development, offers policy and program highlights, resource links, and community spotlights. The e*SNAPs update is issued bi-monthly to members of HUD’s Homeless Assistance Program.
Emergency Shelter (ES) – Any facility whose primary purpose is to provide temporary shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the homeless.
Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) – A federal grant program designed to help improve the quality of existing emergency shelters for the homeless, to make available additional shelters, to meet the costs of operating shelters, to provide essential social services to homeless individuals, and to help prevent homelessness.
Encryption – Conversion of plain text into unreadable data by scrambling it using a code that masks the meaning of the data to any unauthorized viewer. Computers encrypt data by using algorithms or formulas. Encrypted data are not readable unless they are converted back into plain text via decryption.
End User – Any individual who uses the HMIS software to access or input data related to homelessness services.
Enrollment – The process of formally admitting a client into a specific program or service offered by an organization. During the enrollment process, the client’s information is captured and recorded in the HMIS software system, and they are assigned to a program or service. This information includes client demographics, service history, case notes, and other relevant data. The enrollment process is important because it allows organizations to track the progress of a client in a particular program or service, and it helps them to make informed decisions about resource allocation and service delivery.
Entry/Exit – The process of recording a homeless client’s entry into and exit from a program or service.
Ethnicity – Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group’s customs, beliefs, and language.
Exit Destination – The location where an individual or family moves after exiting a homeless assistance program or shelter, such as permanent housing, emergency shelter, or transitional housing.
Expansion Grant – Additional funds to an existing grant by proposing a new expansion project within the implementation.
Extensible Markup Language (XML) – General-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages. It is classified as an extensible language because it allows its users to define their own elements. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of structured data across different information systems, particularly via the Internet, and it is used both to encode documents and to serialize data.
Fair Housing – The principle that all individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, or other characteristics, have the right to access and obtain housing without discrimination.
Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) – Provides national leadership on youth and family issues. Promotes positive outcomes for children, youth, and families by supporting a wide range of comprehensive services and collaborations at the local, Tribal, State, and national levels.
Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) – Publicly announced standards developed by the U.S. Federal government for use by all non-military government agencies and by government contractors. Many FIPS standards are modified versions of standards used in the wider community.
Final Notice – See HMIS Data and Technical Standards Final Notice
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – An information system for capturing, storing, analyzing, managing, sharing, and displaying geographically referenced information.
Goals and Planning – A feature in ClientTrack that allows users to create care plans for clients based on their needs and preferences. Users can set goals, assign tasks, track progress, document outcomes, etc. using this feature.
Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) – One of a series of laws designed to improve government project management. The GPRA requires agencies to engage in project management tasks such as setting goals, measuring results, and reporting their progress. In order to comply with GPRA, agencies produce strategic plans, performance plans, and conduct gap analysis of projects.
Hashing – The process of producing hashed values for accessing data or for security. A hashed value is a number or series of numbers generated from input data. The hash is generated by a formula in such a way that it is extremely unlikely that some other text will produce the same hash value or that data can be converted back to the original text. Hashing is often used to check whether two texts are identical. For the purposes of Homeless Management Information Systems it can be used to compare whether client records contain the same information without identifying the clients.
Health and Human Services (HHS) – A Cabinet department of the United States government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) – U.S. law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. Developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, these standards provide patients access to their medical records and give them more control over how their personal health information is used and disclosed.
HMIS Data and Technical Standards Final Notice – Regulations issued by HUD via the Federal Register describing the requirements for implementing HMIS. The HMIS Final Notice contains rules about who needs to participate in HMIS, what data to collect, and how to protect client information.
HMIS ID – A unique identifier assigned to everyone that is served by a homeless service agency.
HMIS Lead Organization – The central organizations that will house those individuals who will be directly involved in implementing and providing operational, training, technical assistance, and technical support to participating agencies.
Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) – A database that contains information on homeless individuals and families that can be used to track and monitor services, improve service delivery, and inform policy and funding decisions.
Housing Counseling – Services provided to individuals and families to help them find and obtain housing, navigate the rental market, and understand their rights and responsibilities as tenants.
Housing First – An approach to ending homelessness that prioritizes providing immediate access to permanent housing, without preconditions or barriers to entry.
Housing Inventory Chart (HIC) – Consists of three housing inventory charts for: emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing.
Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) – Established by HUD to address the specific needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families. HOPWA makes grants to local communities, States, and nonprofit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Housing Status – A categorization of an individual or family’s housing situation, such as literally homeless, at risk of homelessness, or housed.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – The Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs that improve and develop the Nation’s communities and enforce fair housing laws. HUD’s business is helping create a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans, and it has given America’s cities a strong national voice at the Cabinet level.
Information and Referral (I&R) – A process for obtaining information about programs and services available and linking individuals to these services. These services can include emergency food pantries, rental assistance, public health clinics, childcare resources, support groups, legal aid, and a variety of nonprofit and governmental agencies. An HMIS usually includes features to facilitate information and referral.
Inferred Consent – Once clients receive an oral explanation of HMIS, consent is assumed for data entry into HMIS. The client must be a person of age and in possession of all his/her faculties (for example, not mentally ill).
Information Release agreement – A document signed by a homeless individual or family that allows their personal information to be shared with other service providers or government agencies for the purpose of improving coordination and service delivery.
Informed Consent – A client is informed of options of participating in an HMIS system and then specifically asked to consent. The individual needs to be of age and in possession of all of his faculties (for example, not mentally ill), and his/her judgment not impaired at the time of consenting (by sleep, illness, intoxication, alcohol, drugs or other health problems, etc.).
Intake – The process of gathering information about a new client or household and entering that information into the system. This process typically involves collecting demographic information, income and eligibility data, and other relevant details. The intake process is an important part of the data collection process for homeless service providers and is often the first step in providing services to clients. The information gathered during the intake process is used to create a client record in the HMIS system, which can be used to track the client’s progress and outcomes over time.
McKinney-Vento Act – The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1987. The McKinney-Vento Act funds numerous programs providing a range of services to homeless people, including the Continuum of Care programs: the Supportive Housing Program, the Shelter Plus Care Program, and the Single Room Occupancy Program, as well as the Emergency Shelter Grant Program.
Mental Health (MH) – State of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.
Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) – An announcement of funding available for a particular program or activity. See also SuperNOFA.
Organization – An entity that utilizes the HMIS software to manage and coordinate their homeless services programs. The organization may consist of multiple programs, projects, or sites that provide a variety of services such as emergency shelter, permanent housing, outreach, case management, and other supportive services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
Outreach – The process of identifying and engaging homeless individuals and families who are not currently accessing services or programs.
Participating Organization – An organization that provides housing or services to homeless individuals or families and enters data into the HMIS. Participating organizations must sign a user agreement with the HMIS Lead Agency, follow the HMIS policies and procedures, and ensure data quality and privacy.
Penetration Testing – The process of probing a computer system with the goal of identifying security vulnerabilities in a network and the extent to which outside parties might exploit them.
Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART) – Developed to assess and improve program performance so that the Federal government can achieve better results. A PART review helps identify a program’s strengths and weaknesses to inform funding and management decisions aimed at making the program more effective. The PART therefore looks at all factors that affect and reflect program performance including program purpose and design; performance measurement, evaluations, and strategic planning; program management; and program results. Because the PART includes a consistent series of analytical questions, it allows programs to show improvements over time, and allows comparisons between similar programs.
Performance Measures – A process that systematically evaluates whether your program’s efforts are making an impact on the clients you are serving.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) – Long-term, community-based housing that has supportive services for homeless persons with disabilities. This type of supportive housing enables the special needs populations to live independently as possible in a permanent setting. Permanent housing can be provided in one structure or in several structures at one site or in multiple structures at scattered sites.
Personal Protected Information (PPI) – Information that can be used to uniquely identify, contact or locate a single person, or may enable disclosure of personal information.
Point in Time Inventory – A calculation of the numbers of beds in a region on one particular night.
Point in Time (PIT) – A snapshot of the homeless population taken on a given day. Since 2005, HUD requires all CoC applicants to complete this count every other year in the last week of January. This count includes a street count in addition to a count of all clients in emergency and transitional beds.
Privacy and Confidentiality – The protection of personal and sensitive information in the HMIS database, in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations.
Privacy Notice – A written, public statement of an agency’s privacy practices. A notice informs clients of how personal information is used and disclosed. According to the HMIS Data and Technical Standard, all covered homeless organizations must have a privacy notice.
Program Data Element (PDE) – Data elements required for programs that receive funding under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and complete the Annual Progress Reports (APRs).
Public Keys – Public keys are included in digital certificates and contain information that a sender can use to encrypt information such that only a particular key can read. The recipient also can verify the identity of the sender through the sender`s public key.
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) – An arrangement that binds public keys with respective user identities by means of a certificate authority (CA). The user identity must be unique for each CA. The binding is established through the registration and issuance process, which, depending on the level of assurance the binding has, may be carried out by software at a CA or under human supervision. The PKI role that assures this binding is called the Registration Authority (RA). For each user, the user identity, the public key, their binding, validity conditions, and other attributes are made unforgeable in public key certificates issued by the CA.
Race – Identification within five racial categories: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White
Rapid Re-housing (RRH) – A type of housing intervention that provides short-term rental assistance and supportive services to quickly move individuals and families from homelessness to stable housing.
Referral – The process of referring a homeless individual or family to a specific service or program that can best meet their needs, often based on an assessment of their situation.
Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) – Youth who are under 18 and homeless, at risk of homelessness, or who have run away from home due to abuse or neglect.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (RHYMIS) – An automated information tool designed to capture data on the runaway and homeless youth being served by FYSB’s Basic Center Program and Transitional Living Program for Older Homeless Youth (TLP). RHYMIS also captures information on the contacts made by the Street Outreach Program grantees and the brief service contacts made with youth or families calling the FYSB programs.
Scan Cards – Some communities use ID cards with bar codes to reduce intake time by electronically scanning ID cards to register clients in a bed for a night. These ID cards are commonly referred to as scan cards.
Service Category – A classification of services provided to homeless individuals and families, such as emergency shelter, street outreach, or permanent supportive housing.
Service Provider – An organization or agency that provides services to homeless individuals or families, such as emergency shelter, transitional housing, or supportive services.
Shared Grant – The cost of the HMIS Implementation is shared with another program. For example, if a transitional housing facility shares the cost of the HMIS implementation with other providers.
Shelter Plus Care (McKinney-Vento Program) (S+C) – A program that provides grants for rental assistance for homeless persons with disabilities through four component programs: Tenant, Sponsor, Project, and Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Rental Assistance.
Single Room Occupancy (SRO) – A residential property that includes multiple single room dwelling units. Each unit is for occupancy by a single eligible individual. The unit need not, but may, contain food preparation or sanitary facilities, or both. It provides rental assistance on behalf of homeless individuals in connection with moderate rehabilitation of SRO dwellings.
Social Security Number (SSN) – A 9-digit number issued by the Social Security Administration to individuals who are citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents.
Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP)
Street Outreach – A program that engages with unsheltered homeless individuals and families to provide basic needs, support, and assistance in accessing services and housing.
Substance Abuse (SA) – Excessive use of a drug; use of a drug without medical justification.
Super Notice of Funding Availability (SuperNOFA) – The consolidation of all of HUD`s homeless grants program into one notice of funding availability. The SuperNOFA funds the Continuum of Care Competition.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – A monthly stipend provided to aged (legally deemed to be 65 or older), blind, or disabled persons based on need, paid by the U.S. Government.
Supportive Housing Program (SHP) – A program that provides housing, including housing units and group quarters that has a supportive environment and includes a planned service component.
Supportive Services – Services that are provided to homeless individuals and families to help them address the underlying causes of their homelessness, such as mental health, substance abuse, or financial instability.
Supportive Services Only (SSO) – Projects that address the service needs of homeless persons. Projects are classified as this component only if the project sponsor is not also providing housing to the same persons receiving the services. SSO projects may be in a structure or operated independently of a structure, such as street outreach or mobile vans for health care.
System Administrator – An individual responsible for managing the technical aspects of the HMIS database, including security, data backups, and software updates.
System Integration – The process of linking HMIS with other databases or systems to facilitate data sharing and coordination of services across multiple organizations and agencies.
System Performance Measures (SPMs) – A set of standardized metrics used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of a community’s homeless assistance system.
System User – An individual or organization authorized to access the HMIS database, often with specific permissions based on their role or responsibilities.
Technical Assistance – Designed to provide resources, tools, and support for recipients of HUD funding, such as state and local government grantees, public housing authorities, tribes and tribally-designated housing entities, Continuums of Care, and nonprofits.
Technical Submission – The form completed in the second phase of the SHP fund application process where an applicant that is successful in the competition (called a “conditionally selected grantee” or “selectee”) then provides more detailed technical information about the project that is not contained in the original application.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – Provides cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Transitional Housing (TH) – A project that has its purpose facilitating the movement of homeless individuals and families to permanent housing within a reasonable amount of time (usually 24 months).
Unaccompanied Youth – Youth who are under 18 and are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian, including those living in inadequate housing such as shelters, cars, or on the streets. Also includes those who have been denied housing by their families and school-age unwed mothers who have no housing of their own.
Unduplicated Count – The number of people who are homeless within a specified location and time period. An unduplicated count ensures that individuals are counted only once regardless of the number of times they entered or exited the homeless system or the number of programs in which they participated. Congress directed HUD to develop a strategy for data collection on homelessness so that an unduplicated count of the homeless at the local level could be produced.
Universal Data Elements (UDEs) – A set of data elements that are required to be collected and reported by all HMIS-participating programs to ensure consistency and comparability of data across different programs and systems. These data elements include date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, veteran`s status, and Social Security Number (SSN). These elements are needed for CoCs to understand the basic dynamics of homelessness in their community and for HUD to meet the Congressional directive to support AHAR.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – A Cabinet department of the United States government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – The Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs that improve and develop the Nation’s communities and enforce fair housing laws. HUD’s business is helping create a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans, and it has given America’s cities a strong national voice at the Cabinet level.
Veterans Affairs (VA) – A government-run military veteran benefit system. It is responsible for administering programs of veterans’ benefits for veterans, their families, and survivors. The benefits provided include disability compensation, pension, education, home loans, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, survivors’ benefits, medical benefits, and burial benefits.
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) – A collaborative program between HUD and VA combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help Veterans who are homeless and their families find and sustain permanent housing.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – Programs range from policies to encourage the prosecution of abusers to victim’s services to prevention programs. VAWA helped forge new alliances between police officers, courts, and victim advocates.
Workgroup (WG) – In the context of Eccovia Solutions’ HMIS software ClientTrack, a workgroup is a collection of users within a workspace who share a common role or responsibility. Workgroups are used to organize users and provide them with specific permissions and access to features and functions within the software.
Workspace (WS) – In the context of Eccovia Solutions’ HMIS software ClientTrack, a workspace is a virtual environment where users can perform their work. Each workspace is a distinct area within the ClientTrack system that allows users to focus on specific tasks or workflows.
Written Consent – Written consent embodies the element of informed consent in a written form. A client completes and signs a document consenting to an understanding of the options and risks of participating or sharing data in an HMIS system. The signed document is then kept on file at the agency.
Extensible Markup Language (XML) – General purpose specification for creating custom markup languages. It is classified as an extensible language because it allows its users to define their own elements. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of structured data across different information systems, particularly via the Internet, and it is used both to encode documents and to serialize data.
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