Homelessness in Birmingham, AL: An analysis using the local Homelessness Management Information System and surveys of local supportive housing programs

A homeless management information system (HMIS) records and stores a client's demographic information and his/her service utilization history while allowing for case management opportunities between the client and service provider. HMISs are changing the way communities serve their homeless populations and how agencies serving the homeless interact with their clients and other agencies. With a focus on the city of Birmingham, its local HMIS, and the local agencies using HMIS this research seeks to answer the following questions: How can the homeless management information system help us to better understand the homeless population in Birmingham? What are the different approaches to homelessness among the local HMIS partner agencies? 

In Chapter 2 the history of homeless prevention in the United States, key legislation and plans to combat homelessness, and the programs that have been enacted to house the homeless and to assist them in gaining or remaining housed are described. Then, Chapter 3 begins by detailing the inception of HMIS and its use by the federal government and homeless agencies to track agencies' progress in combating homelessness. After outlining the federal policies that have created numerous homeless programs and how they are using the unique HMIS to record and store data, Chapter 4 gives a glimpse into homelessness in Birmingham using information prior to the implementation and without the use of HMIS. Finally Chapter 5 is mainly data analysis. Answering the first research question on the use of HMIS data to understand Birmingham's homeless population, the analysis focuses on reports from HMIS on the city of Birmingham's sheltered homeless population compared to the nationwide population. Secondly, to analyze the approaches of local homeless programs to ending homelessness and serving the homeless of our city, a survey was conducted and its findings are summarized in the latter part of Chapter 5.

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