The HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program is a vital resource in state and local efforts to end homelessness among Veterans. Since its inception, it has spurred an unprecedented level of coordination between federal agencies and between VA Medical Centers (VAMCs), Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), and HUD-funded Continuums of Care (CoCs).
With any collaborative effort like this, there is a need to share, track, and report key data. We need to know how many Veterans are being served by the program, how long it takes them to move into a unit, and how they fare once they have entered housing. We need to ensure that vouchers are getting into the hands of the Veterans who need them most.
As anyone who works on HUD-VASH at the local level can likely attest, one of the barriers to ensuring comprehensive and accurate data has been the fact that VAMCs and CoCs utilize separate data systems – HOMES and HMIS – each with their own data elements, definitions, and idiosyncrasies. In response to these challenges, our partners at VA and HUD have jointly identified a solution that will allow VAMCs to provide CoCs with a client-level data export from HOMES about Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program. CoCs will in turn be able to import this data into HMIS, allowing for improved accuracy, more comprehensive data, and most importantly – reduced burden on staff the local level.
In general, VAMCs will be able to provide most of the universal data elements as defined in the HMIS Data Standards for clients engaged in the HUD-VASH program in addition to the relevant program specific data elements collected in HOMES.
HUD and VA will pilot this data transfer with a select number of VAMCs and CoCs beginning in early 2020 with an expected full rollout to all VAMC and CoCs by Spring 2020. In the meantime, the HMIS Data Standards have been updated to include only data elements that are collected in HOMES. This will limit the number of missing data fields that exist after data is imported to HMIS.
HUD and VA will be releasing additional guidance for VAMCs and HMIS leads once the final process is defined and the full implementation of this data transfer begins. We look forward to sharing more with you as the rollout begins!
Thank you for your efforts to end homelessness among Veterans and for all populations.