Bright Spot: Chicago, IL | Working With HMIS

February 4, 2020

Work with your HMIS Admin or vendor to establish a workflow within HMIS that allows staff to record client details without using identifying information.

Check out this bright spot if

  • Individuals in your community have refused assessment
  • Your BNL data is not aligned with HMIS
  • You want to try it!


Chicago has developed a workflow in HMIS that allows them to track individuals who have refused an assessment, allowing them to have an accurate actively homeless count, and prioritize for resources without an assessment.

The Chicago CoC records all interactions with individuals experiencing homelessness (regardless of the CE involvement) in HMIS.  First, they create an “Entry” into the Coordinated Entry project in HMIS for all individuals with whom they have engaged and attempted to complete the assessment.  To denote if an individual has refused assessment, they added a section towards the top of the assessment to record refusals to engage in the full process.

Key Action: Alternatives for refusing assessment

Some individuals decline to participate due to mental illness or other concerns about sharing personal information. Once an individual has refused to participate in the assessment on two occasions, Chicago CoC allows the case worker to complete an Observational Assessment.

Key Action: Strategic naming

Regarding consents and HMIS, the Chicago CoC only enter “naming conventions” in HMIS until they receive an individual’s personal identifying information.  They can enter the data and “lock” it meaning that it only remains visible to the project that created the record and to All Chicago, who can use it for aggregate reporting (without sharing someone’s personal identifying information).  Once consent is received, the client can then designate the manner in which their information is shared.

For more information

Contact Kimberly Schmitt, System Implementation and Training Manager at All Chicago: