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Number of Months Homeless
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To identify the length of length of stay in a situation just prior to project start for all adults and heads of households. You will record the cumulative months the client has been homeless. This data element is to be used with other information to identify whether a client appears to meet the criteria for chronic homelessness at various points of enrollment (i.e., at the point of project entry, at a point during a project enrollment, or at any point over the course of a specified reporting period.) For additional information, please refer to the HMIS Data Standard Manual.

Data Element 3.917 Total Months Homeless 

In this Knowledge Base article, we will take a closer look at Field 5 within the Prior Living Situation Data Element, Total number of months homeless on the street, in ES, or SH in the past three years. For a full list of responses, please refer to the HMIS Data Standard Manual.


  • Project Type Applicability: All Programs - All Components
  • Data Collected About: Head of Household and Adults 
  • Collection Point: Project Start
  • Screens in HMIS: Enrollment Screen 



When enrolling a client into a project, the Total number of months homeless on the streets, in ES, or Safe Haven in the past three years will be recorded within the enrollment screen. The response to this data collection point should be a count of the cumulative number of months in which a person experienced homelessness in the last 3 years, including stays in an institution less than 90 days or in permanent or transitional housing less than 7 days.


Collecting the Total number of months homeless on the streets, in ES, or Safe Haven in the past three years. 

  • Round the number of months up to the next highest number of full months.
  • The current month, even if a partial month, can be counted as a full month.


Tips for collecting the Number of Months Homeless

  • Review the HMIS Data Standard Manual for a full list of available answers for the client and a description of homeless situation that will help identify the number of months.
  • If this is the first month the client has been homeless in the past three years then the response is One month.
  • If the client has been on the streets for the last three months then the count would be Three months. If this same client was homeless for one month last year then their cumulative total would be Four months. 
  • If the client has been homeless for the past two months and only 10 days in this month (2 months, 10 days) then you would round the number of months to Three months. 


The following video has information on this field and where you can find this information in HMIS Data Standard Manual.


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