Systems Performance Measures:
The Fundamentals of Improving your System

Jacqueline Janosko, July 2017

System Performance Measures assess several metrics in a homelessness system to determine if people’s experiences are rare, brief, and nonrecurring.  Both Continua of Care in CT have submitted two years of performance data and they now have the ability to compare outcomes year over year and strategize on ways to improve performance.  With thoughtful use of the system performance data, we can serve people faster, more efficiently, and tailored to individual needs.  The data can help us do a lot, but if we don’t do anything with it, we’ve rendered the data useless.

System Performance Measures will soon be at the top of the list of things HUD cares about most.  Right now, the most important metric to HUD is the change in length of time people are homeless in your system.  There currently are no national targets for this metric or any others, but HUD will be setting those goals soon.  HUD advises communities to use those national targets as local benchmarks.  HUD will not be setting targets on subpopulations, so communities should be reviewing those goals locally to determine performance.

There are currently seven System Performance Measures with some rather evident goals:

  1. Length of Time Homeless: Goal is to reduce the time people remain homeless

  2. Returns to Homelessness: Goal is to lower the number of people who return to the homelessness system

  3. Number of People Homeless: Goal is to see a reduction in the overall homeless population size

  4. Income & Job Growth: Goal is to increase the percentage of adults who gain income

  5. First Time Homeless: Goal is a reduction in the number of people who become homeless for the first time

  6. Measure 6 refers to people served under HUD’s category 3 definition of homelessness and does not apply to CT at this time.

  7. Successful Placement & Retention of Housing: The goal is to increase exits to permanent housing from street outreach and successful retention of permanent housing

HUD also had several suggestions for how to best use your community’s System Performance Measures.  This includes being able to make decisions about resource allocation, rating and ranking of projects for the NOFA, driving better project performance, recognizing gaps in populations served, educating the public, and justifying funding and soliciting new funds.