The National Homelessness Information System (NHIS) is a federal data development initiative designed to collect and analyze baseline data on the use of shelters in Canada. NHIS supports the implementation and deployment of the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) software, HIFIS training at the community level, and projects related to community shelter data coordination.
The HIFIS software is a free, community-driven application. As a client management tool, the HIFIS software enhances services providers’ ability to manage their operations and collect information about the population using shelters, such as: client bookings, provision of goods and services, housing placement, and case management.
Service Providers that collect data using HIFIS also share some of their data with the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) through a Data Provision Agreement (DPA). Data exported by service providers to HPS gets incorporated into NHIS, which also receives data shared by some cities and provinces that do not use HIFIS. Personal identifiers are replaced by unique, encrypted identifiers before the data is exported to the HPS. The unique identifiers cannot be reversed by the HPS, thus ensuring that the client information is anonymous.
In all instances, NHIS data is used by the HPS to support research and to inform policy formulation respecting homelessness. The analyses, statistics, and summaries contain aggregate data such that any reports produced by NHIS do not contain any personal information.
Data collected can be used to assist communities with their longer-term planning efforts and capacity building to address local homelessness challenges. It can also be used to support information sharing and partnership development at the local, municipal, provincial, territorial and federal levels by helping to build an understanding of the situation in local communities across Canada. The software contains a comprehensive suite of reports to help sheltering agencies tailor their services to the needs of the community and to report to funding contributors.
More information on the NHIS: