State of the HMIS: A Letter from the Director

Dear HMIS Users and Stakeholders,

 

Thursday, June 1, marked the one year anniversary of ICA’s tenure in Minnesota. In light of this milestone, I thought it appropriate to take a few minutes to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together and the work ahead of us in the next year.

 

On May 4th, 2016, ICA was notified of our selection as Minnesota’s Interim HMIS Lead Agency and State System Administrator, with a term to begin just four weeks later. At this time, there was less than $20,000 of secured funding available for a system with more than its fair share of challenges. As such, our work began on June 1st with a team of two to support the nearly 900 users and multitude of stakeholders interested in the success of Minnesota’s HMIS.

 

Determined to not only maintain, but improve, the quality of HMIS administration in Minnesota, our small team hit the ground running with plans to implement Coordinated Entry in HMIS. Thanks to the dedication and support of HMIS Governance and key stakeholders, a first quarter budget was created and the ICA Minnesota team slowly began to grow. The start of the next HMIS budget year, on September 1st, brought additional stability and the beginning of sustained progress on significant, long-awaited initiatives.

 

What we’ve accomplished in our first year together has been impressive. Statewide data sharing, the precursor to Coordinated Entry in HMIS, was implemented on October 3rd, allowing for referrals to be made within the system. Since then, ICA has worked with over half of Minnesota’s CoCs to design, implement, and tweak Coordinated Entry workflows and priority lists to meet local needs. In Hennepin County, HMIS now forms the technological backbone of the Adult Shelter Connect, the system through which close to 5,000 individuals have reserved over 85,000 bed nights since mid-October. Concurrent with these changes, and many others, Minnesota’s HMIS has grown by over 200 users since June, a trend which is expected to continue in the year ahead.

 

The next twelve months will be no less eventful than the last. In this time, Coordinated Entry will be fully implemented in all ten CoCs and ICA will shift our attention to two major system upgrades that promise to considerably improve your experience with the system. The first of these, the replacement of ART with a new reporting tool, will give us an opportunity to build from scratch a catalog of accurate, reliable, and user-friendly reports and develop with it a level of report-related training that the system has historically lacked. The second major change will be an upgrade to ServicePoint 6, a move expected no later than October 1, 2018 that will make data entry far more intuitive and should therefore reduce the need for data cleanup down the line.

 

There is no doubt that we have a long way to go to fully realize the potential of HMIS, but these changes will do a great deal to move us in the right direction. Change will be hard, as it always is, but please know that we deeply appreciate your flexibility, patience, and understanding as we continue our journey together. To close, I’d like to reiterate a commitment we made to you almost a year ago. That is what you can expect from ICA:

  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • HMIS Expertise
  • Localized Support
  • Responsiveness
  • Transparency
  • Above all, a deep and enduring commitment to making HMIS work

Now, as before, I will say that if you ever feel that we are not abiding by this list, please email me right away at demetri.vincze@icalliances.org.

 

Thank you for all that you’ve done to help make HMIS what it is today.

 

Sincerely,

Demetri Vincze
Minnesota HMIS Project Director