In 2017, Hurricane Harvey demonstrated the need for more efficient communication and collaboration between Texas’ homelessness Continuums of Care (CoCs). As people experiencing homelessness were being displaced and moving to inland regions of Texas, there were no effective processes or tools in place to share their information or identify housing shelter and service opportunities for them from region to region. This was especially problematic for those actively involved in treatment, training, or other case management interventions to maintain or improve health, employment, or other beneficial outcomes.
Until now, there was no way for Continuums of Care (CoCs) to share data across their geographic boundaries easily. The Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network (THDSN) is designed to connect the databases from each of Texas’ eleven CoCs into one information-sharing network. The network will give service providers, faith communities, local governments, and anyone working to prevent and end homelessness the ability to access housing and resources across the geographical borders of homeless response systems. The THDSN will also allow Texas’ statewide homelessness data to be analyzed in real-time for the first time which has significant advantages in terms of research and strategic planning that may impact policy change at the state level.
Continuums of Care (CoCs) are part of a program operated by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) that establishes community-based planning networks for homelessness assistance based on geographic location. CoCs are made up of service providers, such as emergency shelters and housing providers, as well as advocates, government officials, housing authorities, and other agencies that collaborate to work towards ending homelessness.
Following Hurricane Harvey, Texas Homeless Network (THN) and our CoC partners throughout Texas began discussing the need for a homeless data-sharing network to assist in situations like the aftermath of a disaster. In October of 2019, these partners formed a governing body and began the formal planning of this integration effort.
Currently, THN is contracting with Green River to deploy, expand, and maintain the THDSN data warehouse. Since 2019, nine Continuums of Care have agreed to participate in the project’s implementation and contribute data to the THDSN data warehouse.
The nine CoCs participating represent all but San Antonio/Bexar County CoC and the Wichita Falls area. Currently, THDSN represents 237 out of 254 Texas counties covering 93% of the counties in Texas. We will continue working with our other CoC partners to encourage participation in THDSN.
The THDSN will improve the livelihoods of thousands of individuals and families experiencing homelessness and save tax-payers and community services money throughout the state of Texas. As state and nation-wide homelessness, numbers continue to rise, and with the staggering estimated increase due to the current pandemic-era economy, we believe that now is the time to address and resolve this issue that negatively impacts not only those experiencing homelessness but all Texans.
The TDHSN will continue to move towards expanded data-sharing collaborations with public health systems that serve the homeless such as healthcare and criminal justice institutions. This will help identify frequent users of these systems who are homeless so they can be targeted for service interventions. It will also allow us to address system obstructions and vulnerabilities among sub-populations in a more proactive manner, especially when dealing with health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
These collaborations will improve outcomes for those experiencing homelessness and ultimately save taxpayers and community services money by responding to frequent users and reducing their reliance on public health systems.
To make a financial contribution to the THDSN, please click the link below. Your donation, large or small, will help improve the lives of countless individuals and families experiencing homelessness.