Frequently Asked Questions

What is California’s Homeless Data Integration System (HDIS)?

HDIS is a statewide data warehouse that compiles data from the 44 regional homelessness service coordination and planning bodies— each referred to as a Continuum of Care —that provide a full range of services including homelessness prevention services, street outreach services, permanent housing interventions and a range of other strategies aligned with California’s Housing First objectives.

Each CoC collects data about the people it serves and the services it offers according to common federal standards. Integration of these data into HDIS establishes California’s first statewide repository of common homelessness data and streamlines information and analysis by combining information from 44 separate systems into one single point of access.

What Answers can HDIS Provide to Improve the State’s Work to Prevent and End Homelessness?

As the state and local governments strive to deepen partnerships and mutual accountability for the vast resources deployed to respond to the homelessness crisis, the state has brought this new resource online to improve our data-informed response to the crisis. HDIS does this by establishing new capabilities to assess our progress towards preventing, reducing, and ultimately ending homelessness across California.

California’s HDIS provides information about service coordination throughout the state by identifying patterns of service usage across geographic regions and supporting efforts to identify and address racial and other inequalities among people experiencing homelessness. This information can be used to support technical assistance, planning, funding, and coordination decisions.

Cal ICH will release additional data and analyses quarterly on an ongoing basis.

How does HDIS Data Relate to the Point-in-Time?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Annual Point-in-Time Counts (PIT) show a single day estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness across the country on a given night. This homelessness census is particularly important as a companion to the annual figures from HDIS because point-in-time counts capture unsheltered people experiencing homelessness regardless of whether they are currently seeking services. Together, PIT and HDIS paint a clearer, more accurate picture of the scope of homelessness in California.

Per HUD guidance, CoCs across the country conduct an annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. The latest PIT Count data available are from January 2020. People served by providers that do not report into HMIS—providers that opt out of HMIS and Victim Service Providers—are included in the PIT counts.

According to the 2020 PIT count, over one-quarter (28%) of the people experiencing homelessness nationally are in California, while the state only represents 12% of the country’s total population. People experience homelessness in a variety of sheltered and unsheltered forms, and in 2020 over 7 in 10 people experiencing homelessness in California were unsheltered—living in vehicles, sleeping outside or in other places that are not meant for human habitation.

Who contributes data to HDIS?

HDIS collects data from homelessness service providers that participate in each of the 44 California Continuums of Care (CoC) Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS). However, not all service providers participate in HMIS. Those that do not participate in HMIS will also be omitted from HDIS.

Service providers that receive Federal funding and some State funding are required to participate in local HMIS. Participation in HMIS is optional for other independent providers (often faith- and community-based organizations). Information from some permanent housing programs that serve veterans are captured in a separate data system from HMIS that is supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Victim Service Providers, private nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is to provide direct services to victims of domestic violence, are legally prohibited by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) from entering client data into local HMIS; instead, maintaining a separate, parallel data system that is not connected to HMIS. Despite participating in HMIS, some unaccompanied youth providers may be prohibited from sharing certain client-level data with HDIS.

In this release, 44 of California’s 44 CoCs submitted data to HDIS. Yuba/Sutter Counties CoC’s data only contains information on people accessing their Coordinated Entry project.

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