Why does good HMIS Data Quality matter?

In addition to being required by funders to enter accurate and complete information into HMIS, agencies can secure benefits for themselves, clients, and other agencies by ensuring that the data recorded in HMIS is of a high quality.

HUD Mandates Participation in Annual Projects

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires agencies with data in HMIS to participate in annual reporting projects. These yearly initiatives seek to leverage the information collected in HMIS to better understand who is experiencing homelessness, what resources they are utilizing, and what interventions should receive increased investment to improve housing outcomes.

Funders Require Agencies to Submit Reports

Federal and state funders require agencies to regularly extract data from HMIS and submit it for review. This information is used to determine the effectiveness of homeless interventions, which in turn informs future funding decisions. For information about the data entry and reporting requirements for a specific funder, check out the HMIS User Guides on the Forms and Instructions page of the MN HMIS website.

The Quarterly Data Quality Process

Reviewing data quality on a quarterly basis helps agencies prepare to submit the most accurate and complete information for HUD's annual projects and funder-required reports; spacing the work out in this way also serves to reduce the burden placed on HMIS users. In addition to the federal and Minnesota universal data elements that are evaluated by this quarterly review process, it is recommended that agencies run their funder-specific reports to make sure that all required information is being entered into HMIS.

Agencies Can Use HMIS Data for Program Evaluation

While many service providers utilize HMIS because of a funder mandate, the data they collect can also be used for their own evaluation purposes. Agencies collect a wide variety of data points, including demographics, rent payments, current and prior living situations, and Coordinated Entry assessments. HMIS reports can be used to extract that data, which can then be analyzed to identify notable trends, like racial disparities and housing intervention success rates. For more information about how you can leverage the data in HMIS to inform your everyday work, advocacy, and program decisions, check out the Turning Data into Insight series on the MN HMIS website.

Data Quality Impacts Other Organizations

Because Minnesota's HMIS is a shared system, one agency's poor data entry practices can negatively impact the quality of other agencies' information. It is thus the responsibility of each service provider to ensure that their users are entering accurate and complete data in a timely manner. The HMIS lead agency, the Institute for Community Alliances (ICA), offers a number of supports for agencies with data entry questions, including the HMIS Helpdesk ( mnhmis@icalliances.org) and Knowledge Base. To see an example of how the Knowledge Base can be a helpful resource for navigating Minnesota's shared database, check out the article When (and what) can I update? Sub-assessment information.

Read More: Annual Federal Reports | NOFA Resources | Data Quality Matters, pt. 1Data Quality Matters, pt. 2Data Quality Matters, pt. 3 |  Data Quality Matters, pt. 4

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