The MSHMIS was developed to meet a data collection requirement made by the United
States Congress to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Congress passed this requirement in order to get a more accurate count of individuals
who are homeless and to identify the need for and use of different services by those
individuals and families. The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH) was
hired to administer the MSHMIS.
Many agencies in this area use the MSHMIS to keep computerized case records. Some,
only with client permission
, share information with other MSHMIS participating
agencies. The information entered by participating providers and shared with client
consent includes: basic identifying demographic data (e.g., name, birth date, gender), the
nature of the client’s situation, and the services and referrals received from the
Participating agencies collect personal information directly from you for reasons that are
discussed in their privacy notice. They may be required to collect some personal
information by law or by the organizations that give money to operate their program.
Other personal information that is collected is important to run programs, to improve
services, and to better understand consumer needs. They only collect information that
they consider to be appropriate and accurate. The collection and use of all personal
information is guided by strict standards of confidentiality.
Maintaining the privacy and safety of those whose records reside in MSHMIS and the
agency’s who use MSHMIS is very important to us. Information gathered about each
client and each agency is personal and private. We collect information only when
appropriate to provide services, manage our organization and the Database, or as required
by law. The ownership of all records contained within the MSHMIS is retained by the
organization/agency that collected and entered or updated the client’s information.
Each participating agency as well as MCAH is required to have a confidentiality policy
that has been approved by its Board of Directors. MCAH operates MSHMIS in
accordance with HUD and HIPAA confidentiality regulations including those covering
programs that receive HUD funding for homeless services (Federal Register/Vol. 69, No.
146), and those covered under the HIPAA privacy and security rules which govern
confidential health information such as the diagnosis, treatment, of a mental health
disorder, a drug or alcohol disorder, and AIDS/HIV condition or a domestic violence
situation. Other rules that may also apply include 42 CFR Part 2 governing drug and
alcohol records, and a variety of the State of Michigan Confidentiality Statutes including
the Social Security Number Privacy Act, Michigan Public Act 454, March 2005.
MCAH is restricted to using or disclosing personal information from the MSHMIS to the
YOUR INFORMATION RIGHTS
- For functions related to payment or reimbursement for services.
- For functions related to the helping agencies/organizations operate the System.
- For functions related to the development of reports to better plan services.
- To carry out administrative functions including but not limited to legal, audit,
personnel, planning, oversight and management functions;
- To develop databases used for research, where all identifying information has been
- To support contractual research where privacy conditions are met with an approved
- Where a disclosure is required by law and disclosure complies with and is limited to
the requirements of the law. Instances where this might occur are during a medical
emergency, to report a crime against staff of the agency, or to avert a serious threat to
health or safety.
All requests for client personal information located within MSHMIS will be routed to the
agency/organization that collected and entered or updated the information. MCAH’s sole
role in MSHMIS is administrative and no client data is entered or owned by MCAH.
MCAH may not disclose your personal protected information located within the
MSHMIS except as required by law or to help the participating agency/organization that
collected/entered/updated the information operate the System.
MCAH may not publish reports on client data that identifies specific agencies or persons
without prior written agency and, where necessary, client permission. Public reports
otherwise published will be limited to the presentation of aggregated data that does not
disclose personal identifying information.
Please contact the agency/organization to whom you gave your personal information to:
- Access or see your record.
- Correction of your record.
- To request that your record by shared with another person or organization.
- To terminate or withdraw a consent to release information.
- To file a grievance if you feel that your rights have been violated.
Please note that you have the right to refuse consent to share your information between
participating agencies. You cannot be denied services that you would otherwise qualify
for if you refuse to share information. Please note that if you refuse this permission,
information will still be entered into the system for statistical purposes, but your
information will be closed so that only that agency you gave the information to and
System Administrators operating the Database may see your information.
Please feel free to contact us if you feel that your information rights have been violated.
Please address your written communication to Eric Hufnagel, Executive Director,
Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness at 15851 Old US 27, Bldg 30, Ste 315,
Lansing MI, 48901. Please include your contact information. We will respond in writing
within 7 working days of the receipt of your letter.
HOW YOUR INFORMATION WILL BE KEPT SECURE
Protecting the safety and privacy of individuals receiving services and the confidentiality
of their records is of paramount importance to us. Through training, policies and
procedures, and software we have done several things to make sure your information is
kept safe and secure:
BENEFITS OF MSHMIS AND AGENCY INFORMATION SHARING
- The computer program we use has the highest degree of security protection available.
- Only trained and authorized individuals will enter or view your personal information.
- Your name and other identifying information will not be contained in MSHMIS
reports that are issued to local, state, or national agencies.
- Employees receive training in privacy protection and agree to follow strict
confidentiality standards before using the system.
- The server/database/software only allows authorized individuals access to the
information. Only those who should see certain information will be allowed to see
- The server/database will communicate using 128-bit encryption – an Internet
technology intended to keep information private while it is transported back and forth
across the Internet. Furthermore, identifying data stored on the server is also
encrypted or coded so that it cannot be recognized.
- The server/database exists behind a firewall – a device meant to keep
hackers/crackers/viruses/etc. away from the server.
- The main database will be kept physically secure, meaning only authorized personnel
will have access to the server / database.
- System Administrators employed by The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness
and a local Lead Agency support the daily operation of the database. Administration
of the database is governed by agreements that limit the use of personal information
to providing administrative support and generating reports using aggregated
information. These agreements further insure the confidentiality of your personal
Information you provide us can play an important role in our ability and the ability of
other agencies to continue to provide the services that you and others in our community
Allowing us to share your real name, even in the absence of other information, results in
a more accurate count of individuals and the services they use. The security system is
designed to create a code that will protect your identity on the system. A more accurate
count is important because it can help us and other agencies:
- Better demonstrate the need for services and the specific types of assistance needed in
- Obtain more money and other resources to provide services.
- Plan and deliver quality services to you and your family.
- Assist the agency to improve its work with families and individuals who are
- Keep required statistics for state and federal funders (such as HUD).
You may choose to agree to share additional information with one or more MSHMIS
participating agency in order to:
RISKS IN SHARING INFORMATION
- Promote coordination of services so your needs are better met.
- Make referrals easier by reducing paperwork.
- Avoid having to repeat as much information to get assistance from other agencies.
While the MSHMIS system was designed to promote better services for those who are
homeless or might become homelessness, there are risks that may lead some individuals
to choose to do one or more of the following:
- Allow only your name, gender, year of birth, and partial social security number
(optional) to be shared with all participating agencies. All other information,
including your date of birth, full SS#, where you are being served and your particular
situation, are kept confidential or shared with only select agencies
- Allow some statistical or demographic information to be shared with select other
agencies, but do not allow other more personal data such as health, mental health,
drug/alcohol use history or domestic violence information to be shared.
- Close all information including identifying information from all sharing. Only the
agency that collects the information and System Administrative staff may see the
- Use an un-named or anonymous client ID so that your name is not included on the
database, even within the agency that is serving you or for MCAH as database
Questions and risks you should consider before deciding whether and what type of
information to share include:
- You feel uncomfortable having other agencies see your name or other
- You are concerned because you know somebody who works for an agency using
- There may be physical harm or other negative consequences to you or members
of your family if someone found out you sought help, particularly if you or your
children have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or child
PRIVACY NOTICE AMENDMENTS: The policies covered under this Privacy Notice may be amended over
time and those amendments may affect information obtained by the agency before the date of the change.
All amendments to the Privacy Notice must be consistent with the requirements of the Federal Standards
that protect the privacy of consumers and guide HMIS implementation and operation.