In the late 90s Congress indicated that jurisdictions should be collecting an array of data on homelessness, including unduplicated counts, use of services and the effectiveness of the local homeless assistance system. HUD was directed by Congress to work with jurisdictions homeless data by 2004. Therefore HUD directed the jurisdictions to have a functioning Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) in place for data capture and reporting.
The Tampa/Hillsborough County Continuum of Care selected a HMIS software from a list of HUD approved HMIS software vendors. Bowman Systems Inc. is under contract to provide and supports the HMIS software for the Tampa/Hillsborough County Continuum of Care, ServicePoint. The Tampa/Hillsborough County Continuum of Care developed an identity for the HMIS to prevent participation apprehension; the HMIS in Hillsborough County is referred to as the UNITY Information Network (UNITY). The Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County was selected by the Continuum of Care to oversee the HMIS and the Homeless Coalition was placed under contract as the HMIS Lead Agency for the Continuum of Care in 2005.
UNITY is an electronic data collection system specifically designed to capture client-level, longitudinal, system-wide information on the characteristics and services needs of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. UNITY provides standardized data to improve our understanding of homeless in the Tampa/Hillsborough County Continuum of Care and to measure the progress in meeting the national strategic goal of preventing and ending homelessness.
UNITY presents the community with an opportunity to re-examine how homeless services are provided, and to make informed decisions, and develop appropriate action steps. The implementation of UNITY will allow community stakeholders to build new alliances, to strengthen services, meet consumer needs in a more streamlined manner, and obtain information to guide future planning.
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