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Home > Data Collection > HUD Standard Data Collection > Prior Living Situation 3.917A
Prior Living Situation 3.917A
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This data element is meant to identify the type of living situation and length of stay in a particular situation immediately prior to Project Start for all adults and heads of household. This particular information also helps to determine if a client appears to meet the criteria for chronic homelessness. For more information, please see the HMIS Data Standards Manual.


Prior Living Situation 3.917A

Data Element Prior Living Situation 3.917A applies to only the following Project Types:


  • Street Outreach,
  • Emergency Shelter
  • Safe Haven


Subjects: All clients


Collection Point: Project Start

Data Collection Instructions

Intake staff should ask clients about their homeless history, including specific instances the client spent on the street, in an Emergency Shelter, or Safe Haven project. This may require explaining what each of these situations are, relative to the HUD definition for each. It will be beneficial to keep the HMIS Data Standards Manual handy while completing these questions with clients.


  1. Record the type of living arrangement the head of household and each client was residing in just prior to entry into the Street Outreach, ES, or SH project. For projects that do not provide lodging, the ‘last’ living situation will be the same as the current living situation. For projects that do provide lodging, this will be the client’s living situation prior to moving in to the project-provided residence.  Members of the same household may have different prior living situations.

  2. Record the length of time the client was residing in just their previous place of stay.

  3. Record the Approximate date this homeless situation began. Have the client look back to the date of the last time the client had a place to sleep that was not on the streets, ES, or SH and enter that date.

  4. Record the number of times the client has been homeless on the streets, in ES, or SH in the past three years including today (Note – if this is the first time the client has been homeless in the past three years then the response is One Time). 

  5. Record the total number of months homeless the client has been on the streets, in ES or SH in the past three years (The number of cumulative, but not necessarily consecutive months spent homeless).



NOTE: Although documentation is required by some funders for projects targeting chronic homeless persons, completing the data fields in HMIS does not require documentation -- a client’s responses are all that is required.


Because this Data Element allows for multiple configurations of required questions, HUD recommends that direct data entry should be completed in HMIS rather than using a paper form to record the information. The OC HMIS has been programmed to automatically display only the questions that are required of each client based on their unique situation and the Project Type of the project they are entering. However, 211OC has continued to provide paper intake forms at the request of agencies. To see the required 3.917A questions on the paper form, please see pages 4 and 6 of the HMIS General Intake Form.

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