This article originally appeared on the Foothold Technologies’ blog.
For the 300 veterans experiencing homelessness in Mississippi, each night is a new battle to find a safe, warm place to sleep. Until recently, finding and securing benefits was a confusing process. Organizations across the state could not share their data or easily access real time information about their clients. Mobile applications and improved data systems have helped alleviate some of this burden for both those in need of services and those organizations providing support.
Mississippi United to End Homelessness (MUTEH)
Mississippi United to End Homelessness, more commonly known as MUTEH, is using Foothold Technology’s AWARDS software in collaborative ways to help mitigate homelessness in their state. MUTEH is Mississippi’s Lead Agency for both Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) and the Continuum of Care (CoC), working with partner organizations and government agencies to serve and house vulnerable populations across the state.
Many HMIS Participating Agencies are participating in an innovative data collection program where they enter live data into their statewide system. Outreach teams equipped with ipads regularly set out across the state into their local communities and homeless encampments to create profiles of those experiencing homelessness in real time.
HMIS and Data Accessibility
Ledger Parker, Executive Director of MUTEH, recognizes the importance of having one centralized database that “ensures more accountability, versatility and better data quality.” The statewide collaborative allows agencies to see if there are gaps or duplications in services.
Today, as a veteran experiencing homelessness in Mississippi, you could walk into the Jackson VA medical center and almost immediately receive cash vouchers, a process that could have previously taken weeks. Agencies like MUTEH, that are using data in a strategic way, are leading the charge in uniting technology with human services. Parker explained, “Easy access to our data enables us to effortlessly create and share reports, which lets us better serve our community.”
HMIS and AWARDS
We have noticed similar successful results in states where Foothold’s HMIS customers are using data in interesting ways. The use of HMIS in New Jersey and the process by which de-duplicated services data was pulled from the HMIS to match with Medicaid claims data in a more efficient way. In Vermont, we work with two organizations who utilize AWARDS to support their housing programs and improve the lives of those in their community. Good record-keeping in AWARDS allows Foothold Technology customers to find new opportunities to partner with other entities to inform planning, drive policy and strengthen communities.