The UNITY Information Network (UNITY) is the Tampa/Hillsborough County Continuum of Care’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). HMIS is a shared, secure data system used by community partner agencies that provide assistance to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It collects information about the people being served through the homeless system of care
UNITY provides benefits to the:
- People being served,
- Service provider agencies participating, and
- Community efforts to end homelessness
Benefits to homeless and at-risk households:
- Decreases the number of times a person must complete full intake and assessments as this information is stored in HMIS and can simply be reviewed and updated.
- Streamlines the referral process because agencies are interconnected and client information is shared among partner agencies with confidentiality (in accordance with HIPAA and other regulated privacy laws)
- Enhances coordinated case management, both within and agency and across agencies
- Improves eligibility determination and coordinated entry maintenance that eliminates the need for the client to go from agency to agency
Benefits to the service provider
- Functions as a secure client intake system with ability for custom assessments
- Reduces intake and assessment time because once the client’s information is in the system, whether entered by your agency or another agency, it only needs to be reviewed and updated
- Eliminates the need for most paper records as the information is stored electronically
- Has electronic case plan component
- Allows for file attachments to record
- Enhances coordination of services and reduces duplicative services through as it provides
- viewable service history of services received at both your agency as well as other partner agencies
- in-system referral process
- updated community resource information site
- real time data sharing with other community partners
- Assists with bed management for shelters/housing programs
- Provides complex report generation of program and service outcomes for program evaluation and funders.
Benefits to the community’s efforts to end homelessness
- Gives an aggregate ‘performance’ report on the combined community’s efforts through community performance reports (link to community performance report pages)
- Provides data on extent and scope of homelessness in the community
- Provides data on entire system’s capacity to meet the needs of homeless households
- Assists in identifying gaps in the system’s services
- Assists in planning and policy development including decisions regarding funding needs
The level of benefit to the people being served, service providers and overall efforts to end homelessness is directly related to the number of homeless service providers entering data into UNITY. The more agencies contributing client data to UNITY, the better the picture of actual homelessness the UNITY system can present, in a clear, factual and statistical way. The HMIS can also identify unmet needs in the area of homeless services. When this factual picture of homelessness emerges, it will be used to positively influence state public policy towards increasing funding for homeless providers, with the ultimate goal of ending homelessness in Hillsborough County.
Learn more about UNITY:
If your organization is interested in utilizing UNITY or have questions, please contact the UNITY Network Support at UNITY@THHI.org.