By Marshall Allen
A new regional database will help agencies throughout the region identify homeless people and track the services they receive.
The system will go live in Pasadena in October and is expected to improve efforts to serve the homeless and evaluate the effectiveness of programs, service providers said.
There are more than 110,000 homeless people in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, according to recent counts, including more than 1,200 on any given night in Pasadena.
Agencies at present have no efficient way to share information about clients. With the new Homeless Information Management System, however, organizations throughout the region will be able to better understand their clients and how they respond to various resources.
“We will be able to see progress in a much more concrete way,” said Sandra Peterson, director of program standards and evaluation for Union Station Foundation, Pasadena’s largest homeless services provider.
Union Station was the first organization in Pasadena to go online with the new system. The database will include general demographic data about clients, although each agency can also customize it. Each homeless person or family will have a unique identifier in the database. Peterson said Union Station’s database includes general information such as name and age, but also asks when the person became homeless and what services he or she is receiving.
Clients concerned about privacy can choose to withhold their information or provide it to a limited number of agencies. But no one has refused the program at Union Station since they started registering clients in April, Peterson said.
Pasadena recently passed an $11 million package of reforms and efforts as part of the federal government’s 10-year strategy to end homelessness.
Anne Lansing, program coordinator for Pasadena, said the database will help implement the 10-year strategy. For instance, the database will help monitor the outcome of efforts to help the homeless, she said.
One goal of the 10-year strategy is to reduce each year the number of people who become homeless because they are discharged from jail, hospital or public or private care facility. The number of people discharged into homelessness is difficult to know now because the information is not monitored efficiently, she said.
The homeless database cost about $160,000 to set up in Pasadena, about $132,000 of which was paid by a Housing and Urban Development grant.