Evaluating Proposed Changes to How Systems Define Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

At the end of October, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced proposed changes to the race, ethnicity, and gender identity data elements within the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). The changes would modify the wording of questions asked at intake. It would also enhance the information available through data collection.

Data collection is key to understanding if there are disparities in the homeless services system. Also important is assessing one’s experience with homelessness, including how data is collected. Collecting data should be both trauma-informed and client-centered. The proposed data elements are designed to advance these goals.

The Ask

HUD is asking communities to design their own surveys and focus groups to gauge the response to the proposed questions. The Alliance is supporting these efforts by offering pre-made surveys and focus group materials, and will assume responsibility for data collection and analysis.

Communities can participate until December 31, 2022

Working with the Alliance on these efforts would require communities to:

  1. Review materials describing the proposed data elements and the Alliance survey;
  1. Train all (or a subset) of their intake workers on the new data elements and how to administer the survey (including entering responses into the Alliance-created portal);
  1. Administer surveys at the point of intake; and
  1. (Optional): ​Have conversations about the proposed questions with people experiencing homelessness.

Volunteer Communities Add Value

Survey and focus group efforts will add valuable insights into whether the proposed changes to the data elements adequately reflect how people want to identify themselves and if providers and communities can leverage the changes to provide better housing and services. These survey and focus group efforts will ensure more voices are heard on the road to change.

Next Steps

If your community is interested in partnering with the Alliance, please enter your contact information here: