Data management isn’t just a concern for businesses – communities, nonprofit organizations, and similar agencies need to pay attention to the numbers too. This is especially the case when it comes to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the National Homeless Information Project (NHIP).
HUD and NHIP use the data that agencies and nonprofits collect to rank cities on how well they help the homeless population. The higher the ranking, the better the community is assisting the population. However, in some cases, lower rankings don’t necessarily mean the community isn’t helping the homeless in the city. It could be due to a lack of proper data management – it just takes the right team to turn it around. That’s how we helped Kansas City.
Lacking Data Management in Kansas City
Every year, communities around the United States are required to submit System Performance Measures (SPM) and their Longitude System Analysis report (LSA). These are fed by the Annual Progress Reports (APRs). The information conveyed in these sheets will help determine not only how the projects are helping people (or not), but also how much funding HUD will grant the community going forward. Missing the mark, even by accident, can have disastrous consequences for the community’s funding and the homeless population that relies on it.
In 2017, Kansas City was rated 46th in the NHIP by HUD. That year, they received a planning grant from the federal agency with the purpose of fixing their data. The agencies involved understood that there was a gap in what was going on in the community, how they were helping the homeless, and what the data was projecting.
Communities all around the country struggle to make the most of their data. Asking one question incorrectly during assessments can skew the entire year’s report. If you have a case manager who misunderstands a question and conveys it incorrectly to 80 clients, it can result in the wrong information being conveyed in the data. This has a butterfly effect that may cause an agency or community to lose funding.
Another issue agencies and nonprofits run into is treating the annual report as just that – an annual event. It’s anything but. The information needs attention year-round. There are monthly and recurring responsibilities, and only looking at the numbers and data once a year can lead to improper management. Too often if something is incorrectly entered or collected in the first month it can often be impossible to rectify in month 12 as that client may no longer be with the program.
Kansas City Starts Seeing the Benefits of Working with Nutmeg
In 2017, we began working with Kansas City. By 2018, they had moved from 46th to 24th in the NHIP rankings.
It all began with an evaluation of the state of the data. We looked at the System Performance Measures, LSA reports, APRs, questionnaires, and other information with all the agencies and nonprofits involved. From there, we began to make a game plan. By starting here, Nutmeg was able to see all the gaps in how the data was entered, the methods for collecting the information, how the case managers were asking the questions, how the clients were answering them, and where things got lost along the way.
This method allows us to isolate the mistakes and target the training to improve data management, as well as data review. We offered both remote and in-person training sessions, webinars, meetings, and more to help turn the community, the reports, and data around in the rankings.
Two Years Later …
By 2019, Kansas City had seen their ranking with the NHIP move from 46th to 17th after working with us! Our data management and review processes allowed agencies to see exactly where the information was going wrong and why. As a result, the city was in a much better position to ask for additional funding and grants from HUD.
Seeing the results when it comes to the NHIP can take time and certainly won’t happen overnight. HUD looks at the past 10 years of data when it comes to their annual review. If a community’s data was skewed for the past 8 years, it can be tough to turn around, but not impossible. It all starts with replacing the bad data with good. As a result, it can take about 1 or 2 cycles for agencies to see their rankings improve.
Can Data Management Help Your Agency or Nonprofit?
When it comes to the NHIP ranking, this number has a direct impact on the funds an agency or nonprofit will be eligible for. A low ranking can make it difficult to get the money needed to seriously provide the services and housing the homeless population needs in a city.
By improving that ranking using the data management and review services Nutmeg offers, you can start offering more to your community. You can do more of what you set out to do, whether that’s offer additional or improved homeless shelters, diversion and rapid rehousing services, supportive housing services, or something else.
We work to identify:
- The problems in data collection, management, and review
- What’s working within the data currently
- Where outreach workers or agents may be missing the mark
- Where assessment training and end user training can be improved
- What was missed in the data
- What the data is telling you
- And the best steps going forward to help an agency or nonprofit achieve their initiatives
We were able to turn it around for Kansas City. We’ve also helped communities in North Dakota, California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut move up in the rankings, take control of their report management, and improve training for their team members.
Nutmeg Consulting Can Improve Your Data for Increased Funding
Leaving the data as is and constantly missing the mark could result in losing that valuable HUD funding down the line. We work with agencies and nonprofits just like yours to turn those numbers around and help you achieve the goals you’re aiming for. If you’re curious about how we can help your NHIP ranking and your homeless community going forward, get in touch with us.