In the late 1990’s, Congress mandated that States collect data regarding homeless populations as a condition to receive federal funds to serve that population. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) then mandated that each Continuum of Care (COC) for the Homeless must implement a Homeless Management Information System, but they did not require any particular application. The GCPCOC Community Information System (GCPCOC CIS) was instituted as a result of that mandate. GCPCOC CIS’ goal is to support the GCPCOC partner agencies in their mission of preventing and ending homelessness, by supplying them with the tools to meet the reporting requirements for their projects. Throughout this website, HMIS and CIS are used interchangeably and reference the same management system used to track client data within GCPCOC.
The GCPCOC CIS is a client information database that provides a standardized assessment of client needs and records the use of housing and services used to meet those needs. The fundamental goal of the GCPCOC CIS is to use the data to determine the utilization of services of participating agencies, identify gaps in the local service continuum, and develop outcome measurements according to the HUD/GCPCOC CIS standards. The GCPCOC CIS can identify patterns in the utilization of assistance, as well as document the effectiveness of services for clients.
All this will be accomplished through data analysis of the actual experiences of persons experiencing homelessness or those at-risk of experiencing homelessness, as well as the service providers who assist them in shelters and homeless assistance projects throughout Southwest Florida. This data may also be analyzed to provide unduplicated counts and anonymous aggregate data to policy makers, service providers, advocates, researchers, and other representatives. Federal and state reporting are based on aggregate, non-identifying data; therefore, such data may be shared with the public without specific permission.
The GCPCOC CIS uses a web-based software application created and supported by Bowman Systems, a Mediware Company, called ServicePoint. The information contained in GCPCOC CIS resides on a central server to facilitate data collection by homeless and non-homeless service organizations. Access to the GCPCOC CIS is limited to agencies that have entered into a partnership agreement with GCPCOC as the CIS lead agency. Those agencies and their authorized staff members who have met the necessary training requirements and have signed the necessary privacy, security, and licensing documentation as listed in this manual will have full access to the database. As the guardians entrusted with personal data, agencies have both a moral and a legal obligation to ensure that data is being collected, accessed, and used appropriately. All agencies must be vigilant to maintain client confidentiality, treating the personal data of Florida’s most vulnerable populations with the utmost respect.
Every project that receives federal homeless project funds from HUD is required to enter data on persons served with those funds into the GCPCOC CIS. Some projects funded through the U.S. Veterans Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may be required to enter data into the GCPCOC CIS, as well. In addition, the GCPCOC encourages agencies that do not receive federal funds to participate in the GCPCOC CIS, so that service provision in the GCPCOC is coordinated and that data represents the broader network of service provision in the continuum.