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Mayor Walsh releases RFP for tech platform to coordinate housing vacancies for the homeless

October 7, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

 As outlined in the City of Boston's Action Plan to End Veterans and Chronic Homelessness, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that the City of Boston is seeking a vendor to create the City's first-ever Coordinated Access system (CA) - a single platform that providers, housing owners and the City will use to match homeless individuals with available housing paired with supportive services.

"We must do more as a community to better connect Boston's homeless individuals with the resources available throughout the City," said Mayor Walsh. "By using technology to create a more efficient and streamlined process, we are continuing to use innovation to tackle some of our City's most complicated challenges."

The vendor will develop a system that will track housing vacancies and facilitate housing placements through a centralized online database. The system will integrate client data from the existing Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data warehouse with information about housing vacancies and related services.

The City of Boston requires that all homeless programs report data into the HMIS. While most communities use a single HMIS system for all homeless assistance providers, Boston's system is more complex, with eight separate sources of information on three discrete platforms feeding into a unified data warehouse managed by the City of Boston.

The new platform will integrate these multiple sources of information, along with additional data from affordable housing providers.

Central to the project will be the creation of an automated "matching engine", which will apply a series of rules and criteria to ensure that the city's most vulnerable populations will receive priority connection to available housing units.

The system will also track available housing units, programs, and housing vouchers through an easy-to-use front-end system. This will include a registry of all housing units, including their eligibility requirements and accompanying services, and an interface for service providers to enter vacancies and program availability.

Once the appropriate rules and criteria are applied to data on homeless individuals and all available housing or programs, the resulting matches will be displayed. After viewing the match, City housing navigators will indicate whether it was accepted or rejected by both the homeless individual and the housing provider, and the reasons for acceptance or rejection. This process will be repeated until a match is found.

The RFP is available on the City's Supplier Portal through cityofboston.gov/procurement. The deadline for proposals is noon, on Friday, October 16th.

The City expects to launch the system in spring 2016.

The diagrams that follows outlines the housing match process and the housing match decision points.