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Houston Coalition for the Homeless Resolving Homelessness with Permanent Solutions

In the spring of 2009, the national Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act was signed into law and mandated several changes, including an increase in prevention resources and an emphasis on performance. Shaun Donovan, the secretary of HUD at the time, charged agencies to demonstrate that federal Continuum of Care (CoC) funding was making an impact on the underlying causes of homelessness within the community and being used effectively. A streamlined approach was necessary to drive agencies toward collaborated and strengthened efforts to abide by the HEARTH Act requirements, and in 2010, the Federal government created the Opening Doors comprehensive plan to prevent and end homelessness.

In Houston, a PIT count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in 2011 showed a 25.2 percent increase (8,538 total) compared to the prior year. Before 2012, agencies worked in silos and were unable to effectively communicate, analyze data and relay information, which limited overall effectiveness in both Harris and Fort Bend counties. The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) that was used by agencies was functioning mainly as a one-way tool where data went in but did not come out in ways that would inform the decisions being made or the work.

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