CARES Collaborative Homeless Management Information System (CCHMIS)

CARES of NY, inc

CARES Collaborative Homeless Management Information System (CCHMIS) records data on the characteristics and service needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness across twelve Continuums of Care (CoCs) in New York State.

Unit of Observation:
Personally Identifiable Information Available for Linking:
New York, United States of America
Years Available:
2005 - present
Frequency of Updates:
Daily, via a live database.

Encounters with homelessness services providers and programs in New York State.


CCHMIS data are available to researchers with the research purpose of benefiting the homeless community. Researchers must complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to access client-level, personally identifiable data. The MOU must outline the goals of the research, how it will benefit the homeless community, and specific data elements requested. Additionally, the MOU should include rules and limitations for the use of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). For a full list of requirements for the MOU see the “Discretionary HMIS Agreements” section of the Policies and Procedures Document. Researchers can also request past copies of MOUs from Allyson Thiessen, Director of HMIS Programs and Services.

Timeline for Access

Data are updated and reported daily on approximately a month or annual lag depending on the report. It typically takes two weeks for the HMIS System Administrator to review applications to access the database.

Lag Time

Depending on the report, records are updated monthly or annually. 


Regular data requests are free. Requests that are extensive or require CCHMIS to create a separate tool (i.e., an access database) will involve a fee determined by the complexity of the request. 


CCHMIS would only be willing to link individual-level data to external data provided by a researcher if the Community Advisory Committee approves it and if the time commitment required from the CCHMIS team is worthy given the use and type of research. 

Linking to Outside Data Sources

While CCHMIS will link to data provided by the researcher as mentioned above, CARES Inc does not link directly to data from outside agencies to the CCHMIS. All data are given via request through the HMIS System Administrator.

Data Contents

HMIS records encounters with service providers and programs that serve those experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness in a given geography, known as a continuum of care. All HMIS systems must conform to minimum standards and include a standard set of variables specified by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Because a large number of service providers contribute to the HMIS, there may be additional program-specific data. HUD provides data dictionaries and other documentation and CARES refers researchers to these resources to learn more about the included data elements.

In addition to dates of service, data may include additional demographic, health, housing, and service provision details. The types of services whose encounter data is captured in the HMIS include prevention, street outreach, emergency shelter, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, day centers, safe haven programs, and other services. Some information is recorded at the household level and some is recorded at the individual level. Individual level data includes relationship to the head of household. 

Partial List of Variables

Universal data elements: Demographic information, including veteran status and disabling condition; project start and exit dates; destination; location; housing move-in date; prior living situation; relationship to head of household (to link data across individual and household encounters). 

May also include project-specific information, such as bed-night utilization, health information, income, insurance, dates of homelessness. Complete lists of variables are available in HUD's HMIS data dictionary

J-PAL Randomized Evaluations Using this Data Set

Evans, William, Phillips David, and Krista Ruffini 2019. “Reducing and Preventing Homelessness: A Review of the Evidence and Charting a Research Agenda,” National Bureau of Economic Research.

Other Research Using this Data Set

Goodman, Sarena, Peter Messeri, and Brendan O’Flaherty. 2016. “Homelessness Prevention in New York City: On Average, It Works.” Journal of Housing Economics 31 (March): 14–34.

Other Documentation

Locke, Gretchen, Metraux, Stephen, Geyer, Judy, and Howard Rolston. 2013. “Evaluation of the Homebase Community Prevention Program,” Abt Associates.

Last reviewed