The idea of an integrated community data collection system developed as a result of an Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) planning meeting in August 2012 where the best use of ESG funds was discussed among service providers. The consensus of participants at the meeting was to use funds to implement a common data colleciton system to fullfill the requirements of the HUD Homeless Management and Information System (HMIS). A focus group meeting was held in early October 2012 to gather ideas about creating a shared data collection system. Agencies represented at the meeting included the YWCA, District XI Human Resource Council, Mountain Home Montana, the Poverello Center, WORD, Missoula Housing Authority, 2-1-1, United Way and Missoula Youth Homes. Key discussion points were:

  • Montana's statewide Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is cumbersome to use, expensive to change, does not track service usage well, and requires duplication of data entry efforts at the agency level.
  • Without an integrated community data collection system, it is impossible to fully understand the scope of housing insecurity in West Central Montana, address gaps and provide more effective solutions.
  • 2-1-1, with its existing information and referral database system (iCAROL) and its knowledge of community programs and services, is a "ready-made" location for collecting data, tracking clients use of and need for services, and creating reports. 

To address these key points and pursue a common data collection system, a steering committee of direct service providers and nonprofit agency directors was formed. 

The cHris database is currently managed and operated by 2-1-1, a service of the District XI Human Resource Council in Missoula.The database is used by emergency shelters, transitional and permanent housing programs as well as supportive service and homeless prevention programs that receive public funding.

Reaching Home: Missoula's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness is a partner in the cHris. One goal of the plan is to create a single point of entry for clients into the system of community services and programs through the use of a uniform intake interview. As the cHris expands to include more service providers, it can fulfill this goal and help provide increased coordination of services. To download a copy of the plan, click here.



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