Performance Improvement 2011-2012. To What Extent do States Health and Human Service Programs Collect Data on Applicant Housing Status and Homelessness?

01/01/2012

The study investigated which states collect housing status data from applicants for Medicaid and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the two largest HHS mainstream programs that may serve individuals or families experiencing homelessness. Information about data collected at application was collected in a survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

More than half of the states collect information on homelessness indicators and risk factors for applicants. In addition, several that do not collect this information on the application nonetheless address homelessness through interviews that are part of the application process. Only 13 states do not collect any homelessness data from Medicaid applicants and 10 do not collect homelessness data from TANF applicants. Even though homelessness is not a condition of eligibility for TANF and Medicaid, 14 states responded that they have adopted a formal definition of homelessness that is used to document homelessness for a variety of programs. Homelessness data tend to be collected on applications for the following purposes: to document living arrangements and applicant home address; to facilitate eligibility determination and administration of SNAP benefits; and to understand service needs and make referrals to needed services. The study team also reviewed practices related to homelessness data collection in nine other HHS mainstream programs. Five of the nine programs examined already report data annually on the number of homeless persons served. Each of these current data sources yield a limited amount of information about the homelessness status of program beneficiaries, and there may be an opportunity to conduct further analysis on these data sources to learn more.

Report Title: Homelessness Data in Health and Human Services Mainstream Programs: Final Report http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/HomelessnessData/index.shtml#execsum
Agency Sponsor: OASPE, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning & Evaluation
Federal Contact: Flavio Menasce, 202-260-0384
Performer: Abt Associates Inc, Bethesda
Record ID: 9324 (Report issued December 1, 2009)

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