Calgary Homeless Foundation knows that no single person or agency can prevent homelessness—it takes a collective of agencies working together to create a city where everyone thrives.
But what binds agencies together? Data.
Data underpins our sector’s ability to support Calgary’s most vulnerable people. Data is the difference between a fragmented system and a strong network of agencies; a lifetime on the streets and a place called home.
Our Role in Data Sharing
Since 2008, Calgary Homeless Foundation has collected and analyzed data from agencies in the city and across Canada using an electronic database called the HMIS or Homeless Management Information System.
Each data point is someone’s story. Data shows us who needs what. It enables us to help agencies enhance programs for people experiencing homelessness and to close gaps.
But data collection doesn’t just support people experiencing homelessness. It connects agencies to one another, forming a united system of care.
The Benefits of Data Sharing
Here are four ways data-sharing creates a stronger system of care:
When agencies share data through the HMIS, everyone is better informed about the people in the system and its overall state. We can track who is accessing which program and see their successes over time.
2. Highlighting gaps
Data highlights where people’s needs are not being met. In 2017, three agencies created a program to help people move from housing with supports to independent, affordable housing. Thanks to data, the agencies knew this was an unmet need, and they joined forces to provide a solution.
3. Real-time information
Data is collected in real-time through the HMIS. That means we always know the number of people experiencing homelessness in Calgary; the length and causes, and their personal characteristics. This allows agencies to provide a quicker, more tailored response to people’s needs.
4. Promoting research and policy
The shared data in the HMIS provides a base for research that yields practical results, including proposals to government to create social change.