Supportive Housing in HIFIS 4: Recommendations Report

In the spring of 2021, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and ACRE Consulting, having recently submitted a proposal for a new shelter diversion module in HIFIS, decided to turn their attention to the issue of housing in HIFIS 4. This attention was spurred by several factors: 
  • The fact that Reaching Home-funded agencies will soon be required to use HIFIS 4, and that some eligible activities do not clearly align with the available HIFIS modules (including transitional housing and permanent supportive housing); 
  • Numerous first-hand encounters with service providers and service managers, who indicate challenges in their day-to-day use; and, 
  • The recently released HIFIS Development Framework and Priorities document, which includes priority areas such as: 
    • Housing plans, 
    • Offer readiness, 
    • Ability to create vacancy matching and referrals, 
    • Homelessness prevention and housing retention, and 
    • Other housing module enhancements. 

This report outlines a series of improvements related to a new proposed stand-alone housing module that will accommodate supportive and transitional housing programs. First, the report describes the current software and real-world environments, highlighting the fact that there are certain areas in which the HIFIS software does not align with scenarios routinely encountered by front line staff in the real world. Second, the report proposes three new features (Rent Adjustments, Arrears, and Unit Inspections) which are enhancements to HIFIS modules that presently exist. As we will explain in more detail, these enhancements form a foundation that a proposed new housing module will build on. Then, we will describe a new proposed Supported Housing Module, the core of this report’s proposal. This new module will include the Rent Adjustments, Arrears, and Unit Inspections features, which is why they are presented before getting to the core proposal.

After presenting the new module, this report will discuss a necessary consideration for deploying this new module: the ability to convert housing data that service providers may currently be storing in other modules to the new module. We will also propose some related improvements to other modules that, while not fundamentally necessary for the new supported housing module, would be helpful for staff. Finally, we provide some suggestions related to phasing the development of the proposed enhancements within this report.

This is the first report in a series of three planned ones covering improvements to housing; the second will focus on the housing search process and housing matching; and the third will focus on following up after housing. The reason this overall topic was broken into three was because the overall scope of the project became too large to focus on everything all at once. While this report could be read as a stand-alone document, it was written with two other follow-up reports in mind.

Download the report here:
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