Homeless Management Information System Newsletter Quarterly Update

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Love Your Data

Love your data

HMIS Data and State Decision Making

Washington State Seal

The Washington state legislative session started Jan. 13 and there are several bills trying to find their way through the state legislative process (see Schoolhouse Rock for more information on that). You all may not be bustling about Capitol Campus right now, but did you know that the data you provide in HMIS is? The County Report Card is actively used in the decision making process for homeless response in the state.

Published annually, The County Report Card provides information for the state and for each county on system-wide performance measures including exits to permanent housing, returns to homelessness, length of time homeless, and cost per exit to permanent housing.

The County Report Card is embedded in an interactive map, which allows you to review performance outcome results for the reporting period. The purpose is to promote evidence-based housing interventions that efficiently move people experiencing homelessness into permanent destinations and to improve data reporting.  Additionally, these reports provide communities with information regarding their progress towards locally established performance benchmarks.

We are working hard on getting the Fiscal Year 2019 report scrubbed for good data quality. In the mean time you can view the Fiscal Year 2018 report card on the Housing Assistance Unit’s Tableau Public page at the link below.

Note: An earlier version of this send contained an outdated link. The correct link is below.

View the reports

Quarterly Dashboards Have Been Updated

Quarterly dashboards have been updated for second quarter of state fiscal year 2020 (Oct. 1 - Dec. 31).


If you haven’t had the opportunity to view the array of visualizations that the analysts in the Housing Assistance Unit have developed, take a look at them on our Tableau Public page.
These dashboards cover multiple areas of system performance, including temporary housing, homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing and data quality.

Reports Corner

Every quarter we will examine a couple of reports and pointers to help you take ownership of your data.

Clarity Report Parameters

Have you ever been curious about the different filters and functions on clarity reports? Don’t let the options stifle you! Check out this article on reporting parameters in Clarity to master the system and start accessing all of your hard work in HMIS.

Click here to read more


Client Demographics Report

Interested in understanding who you are serving in your programs? With the [OUTS-106] Client Demographics report, you can do just that. Let’s pull this report and see what kind of insights can be gained from it.

Click here to read more

Excel at Excel Basics

Want to look like a spreadsheet wizard to impress your friends? Here we will explore the power of spreadsheets from the basics to advanced tips.

Sort, filter and hide

This quarter’s Excel tip is one that we use quite often: sorting, filtering and hiding data on a spreadsheet. With a few easy steps you will be able to quickly view only the data that is most important to you in the moment.

Click here to read more

Visualize it! Intermediate to Advanced Data Tips

Let’s take our data and make it more digestible.

Pivot Tables

Sometimes spreadsheets can be massive. When approaching a large set of data, arrayed across seemingly endless rows and columns, set in a tiny font that makes you question your optometrist, it can be hard to see how anyone could pull anything meaningful out. Pivot Tables are here to solve that problem.

Click here to read more

Dear Alicia

Falling out of love with your data and need to rekindle the romance? Alicia has your back.

One of our readers writes:

“Dear Alicia,

I have been going steady with HMIS for a while now, but our relationship is starting to feel a little strained. There are multiple profiles for the same client and I just can’t handle it anymore. Every time I try to enter data into the client’s profile I’m not sure which client I am going to get. I want to love my data but this just makes it so hard. What can I do?”

The first step to solving this is to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember that this is fixable. If you find yourself with duplicate clients, you can submit a request to us for deduplication. Please download the HMIS Edits Workbook and fill out the fields on the “Duplicate Profile Merge” tab. Once you have done this, email it to me at alicia.osborne@commerce.wa.gov and I will get it fixed for you.

If you frequently find yourself in the same trouble with your data then you may be forgetting a crucial step in data entry: make sure to search for your client to ensure there are no existing records before creating a new profile.

Thank you for your question and I wish you and your data the best!

Balance of State CoC Performance Office Hours

Welcome to Office Hours!

Data analysis

On the third Thursday every month we (Emily Burgess, performance manager and you) will discuss any and all things related to homeless system performance.  We can dig in to the system performance measures, review reports and dashboards, talk about how things are calculated, brainstorm strategies for improvement and tackle any questions or concerns you have.

Everyone is welcome to attend, including direct service providers, supervisors, lead grantees and HMIS users!

Office Hours are optional. Please propose agenda items when you register.  A draft agenda will be emailed to registrants the Tuesday prior to Office Hours. Register here for the next session on Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.

PIT Count Data Entry Training

The 2020 Point in Time Count has passed, but the work is not over!

There is plenty of data entry to be done before we all can start crunching numbers and pulling insights from the count.

If you are planning on entering PIT data into HMIS, remember to register for the on-demand video training here.

Be sure to check the HMIS Training Calendar for any other upcoming offerings from our awesome trainer Maylee!

Building Changes and C4 Innovations Talk Assessment Tools

Building Changes and Commerce are hosting a peer learning call on Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 10 - 11:30 a.m. in response to the recent study released by C4 Innovations about coordinated entry assessment tools.

You can review the report here. With the results of the study illuminating racial inequities in the VI-SPDAT and the recent energy around reevaluating the assessment tools used in coordinated entry, we want to host a peer learning call with providers from around the state.

Join us to learn more about the findings from this report and hear from colleagues around the state about action steps their communities are taking to address disparities that are resulting from the CE process.

Please register here for CE Assessment Tool Peer Learning Call on Feb. 25 10 a.m. PST.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Thank you for your consideration and we hope you will join us!”


If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future content please contact kyle.gitchell@commerce.wa.gov.

That is all from us for now. Have a great quarter and don’t forget to love your data!