The 2017 AHAR Process Is Here! What Should Users Do?

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Attention All ES, TH, and PSH Agencies:

What? Each October since 2007, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launches the data collection process that becomes the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR). This is a nationwide estimate of households experiencing homelessness throughout 2016. To learn about the process, and your role, watch this 2017 AHAR Agency Kickoff Training.

If you only have 5 minutes, glance through these key points.

When? This process runs October 1st – December 1st, 2017. All Emergency Shelter (ES), Transitional Housing (TH), and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) projects that participate in HMIS are included in this count.

Why? The AHAR is used to inform legislative decisions at the local, regional, and national level; it is also frequently cited by media. NOFA scoring is also directly affected. If bed utilization is not within reason, or too much data is missing or incomplete, could be negatively impacted. Therefore, providing a true and accurate count is essential to demonstrating the state of homelessness in our state.

The most recently published AHAR is from 2015, and can be found here.

What’s the Deadline? There are two phases in AHAR: Review Phase 1 and 2. In the first phase, ICA and CoCs prepare the draft submission. In the second, after receiving feedback from HUD, we engage in targeted data clean up to ensure we have the best possible chance of including all eligible projects in the final report.

Here are the deadlines to know:

October 25th: Phase 1 Agency Deadline

November 22nd: FINAL Agency Deadline

What’s Involved? AHAR is integrally connected with two other HUD-mandated processes, the Housing Inventory Count (HIC) and the Point-in-Time Count (PIT), which last took place in January 2017. Using the HIC bed count as a baseline, AHAR looks at several categories, or “shells”, for each project type (ES, TH, PSH) that are dedicated to individual, families, and veterans.

AHAR focuses on household composition, demographics, lengths of stay in projects, and cumulative time spent in shelter throughout the federal fiscal year.

First and foremost, the data should be complete and accurate to the extent possible. Client files in HMIS with partial, missing, or incongruent data should be corrected.

Second, in effort to ensure that dedicated beds are fully utilized, AHAR looks at how many persons and households were in shelter over 4 points -in-time (10/26/17, 1/25/17, 4/26/17, and 7/26/17). It then compares this number to available beds, and asks, “Does the number of person in shelter make sense?” HUD is looking for bed utilization to fall within a range of 65-105%. Because of this, it is important that ICA and CoCs know if bed capacity has changed since the 2017 HIC took place.

Who’s Involved? ICA and CoC Coordinators, as well as Local System Administrators, work closely together during this process. Each CoC is ultimately responsible to ensure AHAR is accurately reported to HUD. You may hear directly from ICA or your CoC with requests to clean up data, clarify bed utilization, or help us understand project changes.

What Should I Do? That’s a great question! First, to better understand how the whole process fits together, watch this AHAR Agency Kickoff video. Then, be sure to do these four things:

  1. Inform your CoC Coordinator and ICA Regional System Administrator of any changes to bed capacity in the last year. (If you’re unsure who your CoC Coordinator or ICA Sys Admin is, check our website here).
  2. Run these AHAR Data Quality reports for your ES, TH, and PSH providers.
  3. Identify data clean up and correct as needed. We’ve just published report instructions, AHAR Report Suite – Instructions and Purpose for Each, and Instructions for AHAR Data Correction for Users. The 2017 AHAR Agency Training provides a walk through of the reports and instructions. If you need additional help, reach out to our Helpdesk at mnhmis@icalliances.org.
  4. Be proactive and responsive! AHAR is a large undertaking and happens in a short time frame. Please proactively inform ICA and your CoC of project changes; and respond quickly when data clean up requests are made. Watch for news alerts from ICA as deadlines approach.

Thank you in advance for your proactive, responsive participation in the 2017 process. We look forward to a successful AHAR!