The Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network is the largest statewide homelessness data integration effort in the United States and will improve the livelihoods of thousands of people experiencing homelessness throughout the state.
Please scroll down to learn more about this effort to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring in Texas.
Hurricane Harvey: Where It All Started
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.
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.
These systems (shown, right) represent 231 of Texas’ 254 counties in the fight to end homelessness.
What the THDSN Is Designed To Do
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.
Where We Are Now
In 2020, THN contracted with software vendor, Green River, to build and deploy the THDSN data warehouse and hired a Project Manager to lead the project forward. Since then, three CoCs have agreed to participate in the project’s implementation and contribute data to the THDSN warehouse.
These CoCs include the Texas Balance of State CoC, Houston, Pasadena/Harris, Fort Bend Counties CoC and Fort Worth, Arlington/Tarrant County CoC . We expect to receive commitments from at least two additional CoCs by June of 2021 and we will continue working with our other CoC partners to encourage participation in the project’s implementation stage.