Using System Performance Measures and Homelessness Occurrences in Looker
The System Performance Measures (SPM) are meant to provide a high level assessment whether a Continuum of Care (COC) is accomplishing the goals set down by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Reviewing HUDs (Housing and Urban Development) System Performance Measures Introductory Guide is advised BEFORE EXPLORING the measures in Looker. The Guide offers an explanation of each of the measures and how to use them in your community.
This article will show how to get the most information out of running the System Performance Measures in Looker. You should have a basic understanding of Looker before using these measures.
The Measures are currently in development. As they are created and tested, new measures will be added to Looker. The calculations are quite complicated and require significant coding to work to HUD specifications. In other words, this is a work in progress.
Running System Performance Measures in Looker
The System Performance Measures dimensions are included in the HMIS Performance Looker model.
Running the SPM in Looker is similar to other dimensions, with several exceptions:
- A SPM Report Date Filter is required
- Other filters will change the results
- Clear Cache and Refresh should be used after changing the date range of the filter
- Only dates on or after 10/01/2012 are included, regardless of the Report Date Filter start date . Per the HUD specs, the earliest date to be used for the SPM is 10/1/2012.
All Looker System Performance Measures require the SPM Report Date Filter found in the System Performance Measures group.
This filter is required as the System Performance Measures are generated for a specific timeframe. The HUD reporting year is October 1 through September 30 for the SPM. However, the Measures will generate successfully for any date range.
If this filter is not added to the report all Measures will generate null values.
Another important note: Any filter added to the Look will impact how the Measures are created and the results that are returned.
Finally, the Enrollments Reporting Period Filter should be set to Is any time.
Once the SPM Report Date Filter is added, the desired date range set, and all filters set appropriately then any Measure may be added to the Look and should successfully run.
Looker usually stores the information needed for Looks to run quickly. This in case someone else wanted to run the exact same Look, without having to wait. This is known as caching.
However, caching Looks causes some unexpected behavior when running the System Performance Measures in Looker. Specifically, if the System Performance Measures are generating with one date range, the date range is changed and the Look is run again. Looker doesn’t understand you are asking for a different date range and uses the cached Look and date range.
To get around this, whenever changing the date range on a System Performance Measure Look, click on the then Clear Cache and Refresh.
As mentioned, System Performance Measures are the aggregation of several measures which tell the story of a person’s experience in homelessness. These Measures are important for funding agencies, as it helps understanding the whole system. However, they may not be as useful for a COC trying to decide what actions may improve these measures--and ultimately, the lives of persons experiencing homelessness.
The Homelessness Occurrences dimensions are meant to guide a COC on what actions might be taken to improve the client’s experience and opportunity for success.
Length of Time Homeless
This dimension provides the total number of nights a person has spent in homelessness since 10/01/2012.
It is calculated using the same logic as the System Performance Measure 1a1.
- This element only considers shelter stays
- Each night is a “documentable” night spent in homelessness
- Simultaneous stays recorded on the same night are only counted once (e.g., if enrolled in two shelters on January 1-4, only 3 nights are counted)
- Nights where the person is enrolled in a shelter and enrolled in a housing program and reported as housed are not counted (e.g., if the person is enrolled in a shelter and a Rapid Rehousing program with a Move-In Date, the shelter night will not be counted)
- Nights where the person is enrolled in a shelter and enrolled in a housing program and reported as not housed are counted (e.g., if the person is enrolled in a shelter and a Rapid Rehousing program without a Move-In Date, the shelter night will be counted)
First Night Homeless
This is the date of the first night an individual has spent in homelessness within the system, after 10/01/2012.
Most Recent Night Homeless
The date of the most recent night an individual spent in homelessness.
Start Occurrence, Stop Occurrence, Occurrence Duration
These three elements are related. They represent the different homelessness occurrences related to individuals in the system.
- Start Occurrence represents the date an occurrence of homelessness began
- Stop Occurrence is the date a homelessness ended
- Occurrence Duration is the length of the occurrence, which is the number of nights the individual spent in homelessness during the respective occurrence.
These three elements are closely related and are best used together.
If all occurrence durations are added together, it should equal the total number of nights a person has spent in homelessness since 10/01/2012.
Understanding SPM Measures and Data Quality Issues
The following articles review potential trouble spots with the data for the System Performance Measures: