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    Exploring the Potential of Homeless Management Information System Data for Understanding the Mobility of People Experiencing Homelessness

    Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness

    Year: 2022

    Previous research has found that people experiencing homelessness move from one location to another for a variety of reasons, including to improve access to services and supports. Understanding the mobility behavior of a community’s homeless population has direct implications for service and policy planning. Past research on homelessness and mobility has predominantly used self-report measures and qualitative methods. Incorporating more objective and administrative measures, such as Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data, is far less common. Using HMIS data to study mobility has the added benefit of allowing Continuums of Care (CoCs) to routinely look at the mobility of services users. The current study uses HMIS data from 21 counties, representing 12 CoCs, in New York State – covering a large, geographically diverse region. The analysis focuses on examining service user characteristics associated with accessing a homeless service outside the county where a person was last housed. Findings reveal that the likelihood of accessing a homeless service outside the county of last residence is associated with several demographic, background, and service use factors. Considerations for using HMIS data to explore mobility and service use dynamics are discussed.

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