National Homelessness Information System

The National Homeless Information System (NHIS) is an important initiative of the federal government's Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) designed to facilitate the collection of data from homeless service providers in support of creating a national portrait of homelessness. The NHIS Initiative aims to prevent and reduce homelessness by increasing knowledge and understanding of homelessness issues across Canada.

The NHIS funding stream supports the implementation and deployment of the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) software, HIFIS training at the community level, and projects related to community shelter data coordination.

  • Providing NHIS with Data

    Service providers that use HIFIS 3.8 must enter into a Data Provision Agreement (DPA) with ESDC before exporting homelessness data to NHIS. The confidential, non-identifiable data is then exported directly to NHIS through the HIFIS software.

    By using HIFIS, service providers become part of a growing network of users contributing to NHIS. In addition, HIFIS users can share resources such as best practices in shelter/service provision management and reporting templates.

  • Data protection

    Data exported to NHIS by service providers are protected under the Data Provision Agreement (DPA). The DPA details the requirements for data collection, privacy and security aspects for all service providers entering data into the HIFIS software and providing data to NHIS. HIFIS users must adhere to the privacy security standards respecting personal information in their respective province/territory.

  • Data Collection and Statistics

    Data collected through HIFIS is available at several levels. Service providers that use HIFIS are able to access the data that they have collected and inputted. Communities are able to use this data in a number of ways to increase the public's understanding of homelessness.

    HPS collects homelessness data from service providers through the signing of a DPA. HIFIS data exports are collected in NHIS database. Data from the NHIS database can be analyzed and used to provide a portrait of shelters and their clientele across Canada.

    Contact NHIS to request copies of the following documents:

    • The Canadian Experience: Homeless Data Collection, Reporting and Performance Measurement
    • The HIFIS Initiative: Using Information and Communication Technologies to Build Knowledge and Understanding on Homelessness
    • Shelter Capacity Statistics (June 2011)
    • Shelter Capacity Statistics (June 2010)
  • Collected Data Use

    The collected data can be used to:

    • assist communities with their decision making and their long-term planning efforts;
    • address local homelessness challenges;
    • support information sharing and partnership development across Canada;
    • inform policy development; and
    • improve the planning and development of effective measures to prevent and reduce homelessness.
  • Digital Inclusion Partnership

    The Digital Inclusion Partnership (DIP) aims to meet the technological needs of shelters and other service providers implementing HIFIS by working with partners to obtain free or reduced-cost hardware, software or support.

    Industry Canada's Computers for Schools (CFS) is a key partner that has agreed to respond to requests from shelters for computer hardware and upgrades. CFS is a national, federal government-led program that operates in cooperation with all provinces and territories, and the private and voluntary sectors. This program collects, repairs, and refurbishes donated surplus computers from government and private sector sources and distributes them to schools, libraries, and not-for profit organizations throughout Canada. It also provides useful knowledge about overcoming barriers to information technology accessibility. Contact NHIS to obtain a computer request form.

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