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The Baltimore City Health Department has declared a Winter Shelter Status alert for Saturday, January 13 to Friday, January 19. Find additional information on winter shelter status and resources here.
Why is standardized data collection important? Homelessness doesn’t just mean living on the streets. It takes on many forms and figuring out how to document those different forms determines how and when our clients can get housed. By standardizing housing data collection, we are working to better asses our clients’ needs and get them stably housed.
What are we doing to meet this goal? To improve our information gathering, we’re rethinking the questions we ask clients about their living situations. To improve our reporting, we’re making sure that the definitions we use for homelessness accurately and fully capture our clients’ responses. We used to simply ask “where did you stay last night?” This didn’t really give us the full picture, so we’ve started working on new housing questions. We’re piloting the following:
Where do we go from here? We know many clients are hesitant to discuss their housing status for fear of being denied care. With this in mind, we’ve had different staff members ask these questions during different stages of the client visit. We’ve learned the clients are most comfortable discussing their housing status with their doctor during a medical visit, though this can prolong visits and cause access issues. We are trying to discern who, and when, is best to ask housing-related questions.