Blast From the Past

by / Friday, 29 February 2008 / Published in Uncategorized

Quick reminder: Tomorrow’s 1Matters Saturday Morning Meeting is at the UNITED WAY Building at 8.10 am, instead of CSM.     

In the Year 2000… 

On the way to something else I found the final MIS Subcommittee Recommendations presented to us on the “Toledo Collaborative Governing Body on Homelessness” in 2000.

This was the formative document intended to create and shape our HMIS.   The stated goal was “to end and prevent homelessness by increasing our community’s capacity to address root causes through sustainable systemic change involving coordinated decision making, resource development and funding.”

The report said  “We feel strongly that an HMIS should improve service delivery to the homeless.”

Further, the recommendations from 2000 were:

 1.) We recommend that our community implement an HMIS that meets the needs of clients, direct service staff, agency administrators, and funders

a.) To meet the needs of clients, we recommend that our community adopt a Collaborative Case Management-HMIS, or CCM-HMIS. This kind of HMIS will benefit homeless clients by improving the accessibility of services, and more specifically by

identifying clients’ unmet needs more quickly
promoting efficient delivery of needed services
enhancing clients’ ability to hold providers accountable
preventing clients from having to begin anew with each provider
facilitating development of a no-wrong-door or one-stop model of service delivery

b.) To meet the needs of direct service staff, we recommend that our CCM-HMIS include the following tools to help them do their jobs:

the ability to track bedspace availability
an interagency communication forum, such as a bulletin board and/or email
an updatable and/or searchable directory of service providers, including location and contact information
the ability to track the availability of community resources, such as bus tickets or utility deposits

In conjunction with these tools, we feel a CCM-HMIS will enable direct service staff to spend more time with their clients by:

saving them time as they use the system more
providing a direct link to staff at other agencies
eliminating unreadable case notes and better enabling case notes to be completed during working hours
facilitating communication between different types of case managers or staff within the same agency
facilitating case planning and providing an up-to-date comprehensive view of the services their clients are and are not receiving

To meet the needs of agency administrators and funders, we recommend that our community use the CCM-HMIS’s ability to track information within and across organizations to enable agency-level and system-wide planning capacities that will benefit all stakeholders and ease the processes of:

tracking dollars per grant source
obtaining information needed to evaluate programs
applying for grants by providing statistics, gaps analyses, and other descriptive information identifying service gaps and underutilized programs, which present options to reallocate funds

Though HMIS failed miserably in hitting any of those targets, the homeless WILL finally get a system that does accomplish much of this, Refer7.   This system CAN be achieved to the benefit of the homeless, direct services staff, agency administrators and funders.  


A great benefit of the capacity of Refer7 when tied with 211 will be the true recognition of needs well ahead of the curve, not after.  For example Bill Kitson said he has now has documentation through 211 that over 40% of the requests for information are about food.  This allows funders to address their dollars as a result of the front end, rather in the back end.  In other words, resources can be scaled to demand, based on REAL need, rather than perceived need.  How cool is that!

By Comparison 

Instead what we have now is a system used ONLY to satisfy HUD to get federal funding.  What we have now is a system that according to the federal COC Application only 47% of the agencies participate in HMIS, and it further says either 70% or 75% (Both are cited) of the shelter beds participate.  This means they are not collecting anything from 53% of the agencies and 25% – 30% of the shelter beds.

What we have now is a system that the TLC says has inaccurate data due to non-compliance, yet is used for planning?  A system that one of the busiest emergency shelters Toledo Gospel Mission does NOT belong because nobody ever bothered to ask them too? 

An HMIS system that says that our shelters are busy only 51% of the time?  

I wondered out loud in an email to all TAAEH and TLC members (See Below) why THEY accept such terrible performance in a system that affects their funding so greatly? 

Deb Conklin then sent out an email not answering ONE of the questions, instead basically saying “I am OZ, ignore that man behind the curtain”.  She tossed out a bunch of  gobblety gook numbers so people would say, “Yep, HMIS is fine, Deb says so.”  She also states  “I have no intention of responding to Ken’s invitation or allegations and would hope that you would not either.” 

She concludes by saying, she wants to “assure you that since its inception,, the HMIS project has been managed accordingly, supervised appropriately, and evaluated regularly and through it all has performed well and as expected.” 

If that is all true then I am certain that she has documentation to support all of her claims, the management, the supervision, the regular evaluations.  And I am sure she has shared all of that written documentation with the TLC board, and the TAAEH board so they didn’t have to just take her word for it.  I am sure someone who has the FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY has seen all of that  documentation.  No?  Why not?  Oh, it’s none of your business either? 

On non-profit boards the directors are PERSONALLY financially liable in the event of a lawsuit and finding of negligence due to breach of fiduciary responsibility. 

<<As is the case with directors of non-stock, nonprofit corporations, directors, trustees and officers of any such organization who act without compensation are immune from liability for any civil action for acts taken in their capacities for the organization. If compensation is received, any damages assessed in the action cannot exceed the last 12 months of compensation.

NOTE: This charitable immunity statute does not limit liability for (a) willful misconduct, (b) knowing violation of criminal law, (c) liability derived from operation of a motor vehicle, or (d) violation of a fiduciary duty >>     

The numbers we print here are numbers taken directly from the Continuum of Care application and the CASE meeting presentation. (You can see the full CASE presentation here if you have PowerPoint)  So unless she lied in the federal Continuum of Care grant or Carlin lied in the HMIS presentation at the CASE meeting, these numbers are irrefutable.  

To see a good example of their “creative numbering”, look at slide 5. It says homelessness has increased 5% since 2004.  That is ONLY if they use the top number, 3300.  If they use the bottom number 2275, it has increased 52%.  So had they been honest with the numbers they would have had to say “Homelessness has increased anywhere from 5%-52%” 

So all of this lack of performance, including lack of participation are, according to Deb Conklin,  performing “as expected.”

No one seems to demand any accountability from HMIS or from the Systems manager.  The HMIS and TLC are banking on the directors either not being smart enough to figure all this out, or that the shelters would be too scared of reprisals if they rock the boat.   When an agency’s funding gets cut because of the inaccurate numbers in HMIS, they will have no one to blame but themselves.  

It’s funny, every time I write or send emails to TAAEH and TLC members, I get emails back from shelters, politicians and/or board members who say “You are so right, I am glad someone is taking this stand. I admire and wish I had your passion!” and then they invariably add “But don’t post me on your website, I could get in trouble.”   How sad, eh?  The good news is I understand there is a new movement afoot to “re-adjust” the leadership of TLC to keep it from it’s certain demise. 

Comedy Fundraiser

The Connxtions Comedy Club either got sick of me badgering them or got so desperate that they actually booked me to perform the week of May 15th.   Their agent called me and after long negotiations I agreed to give them $100 to be able to perform there that week.  LOL

So what does any self-respecting guy that delusionally thinks he is funny, along with Sheila, the sweetest comedy club manager in the nation to do?

That’s right, hold a comedy benefit for the homeless.   It will be Thursday May 15th, 8p.m.   Tickets will be limited to 250, cost $20,  and will be available in advance on a first come first serve basis.   VIP tickets will go for $100 and will include “special” stuff such as special seating, special recognition and more.   V-V-VIP tickets will go for $500 and include even “morest specialer” stuff, including doing your own jokes on stage.  If we sell 10 V-V-VIP tix, i do my act in a Speedo.**

Goal Reminder

 Other than PSH I have not hear TLC mention any of the goals for this year, so as a refresher here they are, straight from our Continuum of Care grant.  

1) Create New Permanent Supportive Housing for the chronically homeless.  

2)   Increase % of homeless persons staying in PH over 6 months to at least 71%

3) Increase percentage of homeless persons moving from TH to PH to at least  61.5%

4) Increase % of homeless persons employed at exit to at least 18%

5) Ensure the COC has functional HMIS system (Sad note, their goal is to expand to 20 participants calling it a 15% increase.  There are currently 19 listed as using the system now.  My math calls from 19 to 20 participants a 5% increase.)  Even more ambitious, they want to go from 75% to 90% of the beds reporting…. in 10 years. 

Other Stated 2007 Objectives 

  1. Create New PH Beds for homeless persons
  2. Increase access to mainstream resources by 15%
  3. Increase % access to jobs and services to ex-offenders by 5%.


Dear TAAEH & TLC Members;

I needed to write this to be sure you all know facts about what we are doing with 1Matters and what we are looking for in the HMIS information. I wanted you to hear it from the “horse’s mouth”, or as some of you prefer, the “horse’s arse”. Lol. 

This is just open communication and dialogue.  As you ALL know I am hide nothing and almost everything we are doing is posted on  (If you want to keep up with the updates, just register for email updates and they will be sent to you anytime we update the site.) 

First, despite what you are hearing,  WE ARE NOT LOOKING FOR ANY CLIENT DATA IN ANY FORM, AGGREGATE OR OTHERWISE. Period! None, zip!As many of you know I have been trying since the first of November at the CASE meeting to get information on the HMIS. 

Here is the history.  This is how it started, and how we got to where we are now. 

After Tent City I was asked to help enter Tent City data into HMIS.   While doing so I discovered we were only using like 50% of the system’s capacity.  I saw that some of the other questions in that system might benefit the ones we serve so I wanted to harmlessly look at that possibility. 

All I asked for was a list of the questions that can be asked, NOT any client data,  I was denied.  That led me to, “then what are they hiding?”  As a member of the TLC Board EC I felt I had the fiduciary responsibility and thought it wise to find out.  Instead I was told it was none of my business.  

I also discovered that our HMIS system is just a database, and this database is not even hosted or managed by us, it is hosted and managed by a company in Alabama.  This means NO PROGRAMMING is done here.   So there really is no “systems work” to do.  None, not a bit!

The only other thing done on a databases is data entry.  And we know that data entry is done by you the agencies.  So my question then was if he is doing no programming, and no data entry, what exactly does he do? 

I was told he does reports and training. Here is how difficult it is to generate a report in the HMIS:  Go to your Microsoft Word, go to “Tools” at the top, then select “Word Count”.  You have now generated a “report’ of how many words are in your document.  THIS IS EXACTLY HOW REPORTS ARE GENERATED IN HMIS.  It truly is that easy.

So if there is no data entry, no systems work, and reports are that easy, what does he do? 

According to the COC there are two trainings Carlin does a year, and when agencies call, he goes out to train.  I hear that is about another 5 times a year to individual agencies.  Training takes 1-2 hours max. But let’s say they take 4 hours and he does ten of them a year, instead of the 7. 

Ok, that is 40 hours a year he does training.  Ok, if there are 2040 business hours a year, what does he do for the other 2000 hours a year?

That was all I was asking, what does he do?  If he is working his tail off, they would know and it would be documented.  Now I am open to the possibility that I could be wrong.  So I ask you all how many times has he been to your agency in the past 5 years?  How many times has he come out to train your new people? Or do they have to wait for the semi-annual training? 

You all can add it up together. I don’t need an answer, just want you all to think about that.  If he is at your place a lot, then there really probably is no problem, other than the agencies that have never been contacted.   Then you can figure out how many hours a year he works for you and your agencies.  What does he do the rest of the time?

Let me ask you TAAEH and TLC members, is it your business?  Stop for a second.  Think of yourself instead as a taxpayer paying for this system, using your funds, do you care what he does the other 2000 hours a year? If it is not your business, then who’s business is it?

Why does it hurt to ask what he does?  If they won’t answer you either, why not?  What is the reason the HMIS report at the CASE meeting that says you all are only full 51% of the time? Is that accurate?  If not, why not?  If not, what are you all going to do about it?


I don’t have to worry about my funding being cut because HMIS documented we are half full. Don’t you all want to know why training can’t be 2 hours every week?  That would add 100 hours a year to his work, AND help your people do it faster/better?

Don’t you all want to know why every agency in town hasn’t been contacted and invited to join HMIS?  

Don’t you all care at all why Tom Clapsaddle with Toledo Gospel Mission hasn’t been contacted directly by Carlin and asked to join the HMIS since he got there 5 years ago? 

Don’t you all care that your system is not accurate due to non-compliance, and the numbers can be used against you?

Don’t you all care why you don’t care?

I even tried to bring objectivity to the discussion.  One of the Assistant Vice President’s of technology at HCR Manor Care volunteered to objectively look at the HMIS system, This offer was turned down by TLC.  

Finally Fritz Byers, a hero for the homeless stepped up and volunteered to help us get those questions answered.  That’s all.  We seek NO client data at all. 

Again I wonder, what if  YOU all ask these questions, will it be none of your business too?

Try and ask, see for yourself.I am not after anybody, I have no axe to grind, I am not against TLC,  Last week I rightfully publicly complimented Deb Conklin and TLC on the website for the work in bringing 50 or so peeps together to work on accomplishing the goals in the COC through Permanent Supportive Housing.

Let me tell you all this, every single one of you (TAAEH & TLC) is welcome to join us.  Forget what you have “heard” about me or us and our Saturday morning work, how about you come and see for yourself?  How about you come and then make up your own mind about our work.  Don’t have your mind made up for you.

Think about this, why is a group of people, including agencies repeatedly coming to voluntary meetings every other Saturday morning at 8 am.  Why?  Because the attitude is NOT why can’t it be done, but rather what would it take to get it done?  And each week we have more successes.  Might there just BE something good going on?

There is. 

The next meeting is March 1st, 8 am.  It is at the United Way building. Call or email me if you need info, or just read the updates on 1matters. Thanks for your time.


** The speedo part was JUST a joke. No way!