Tracking length of stay data, particularly for emergency shelters, is a critical component to monitoring the overall performance of your homeless-serving system. Emergency shelters are not intended to be ‘de facto housing.’ Instead, they are intended to be short-term, emergency solutions, for people who have no other housing options, while they work towards obtaining more permanent housing.
Many communities have identified local performance targets that they are aiming towards in terms of average length of stay. This report is intended as a tool for those communities, and others, that wish to reduce their average length of stay in emergency shelters and monitor their progress.
Communities using HIFIS have an additional complication in calculating length of stay at their shelters. A client could leave one shelter and go to another, with no break in between, which would be counted as two distinct stays in HIFIS. Clients might also miss their curfew one night and be booked out as a result, even though they continue to be homeless. Thus, this report presents three different measures of length of stay: using stays, using episodes, and using cumulative bed nights.