Next Steps as a Data Culture
Snohomish County HSD is looking forward to continuous evaluation – and data are the foundation for answering their questions. The dashboards are creating opportunities for the CoC to more effectively evaluate performance and develop appropriate system and project goals. From designing project type-specific measures to reconciling PIT count data with coordinated entry data, Snohomish County is leveraging dashboards to demonstrate the housing system is more efficient and effective than ever before while continually identifying areas for improvement. They are digging into the data.
And the data are bringing people together.
Jess describes “a palpable moment of understanding that, in the struggle to end homelessness, we were losing ground.” She adds, “It took a long time of looking at the data as a whole to understand that homelessness presents itself differently for various populations. The same goes for providers. They may have a lot of knowledge in a specific part of homelessness, but when trying to make system changes, we need to look at it as a whole. Now everyone is working towards the same goals instead of solely meeting the requirements of their specific part of the system.”
Example infographic showing progress using inflow/outflow of households in the system
Snohomish County HSD and their partners have used the dashboards and the expertise of the HMIS team to create a culture of strategic planning that incorporates and is educated by data. They plan to continue using data visualizations to establish a sustainable framework for continuous reporting, evaluation, and translation of data into system improvements. The CoC developed a strategic plan to prevent and end family homelessness that was informed by data, creating a performance culture with community-wide recognition of the value of data-driven decision-making. Snohomish County HSD recognizes the data visualizations as great resources, but they acknowledge that they may only be useful in communities that are willing to be open to data exploration, have community partner buy-in, and if they are built with tools that are sustainable and dynamic. Snohomish County has shown that with these key pieces in place, effective system transformation can begin.
Example of the revised dashboard depicting number of all households, length of time in project, exits to permanent housing, permanent housing retention, days to move-in, Income progression, and returns to homelessness
"The key to building understanding does not lie in the complexity of the analysis, but in the consistency with which it is executed and the certainty of what is being measured and what is not. So, go forth and measure something! Anything! And then share it with people. When they ask more questions – you know you have made an impact." ~Jess Jorstad, Lead Data & Program Analyst for HMIS, Snohomish County Human Services
Jess Jorstad, Lead Data & Program Analyst for HMIS, Snohomish County Human Services, showing a line graphic depicting the increased value of presentation skills over time