We understand that using the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) can be complex, and we're here to help! To support our HMIS community, we've created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page based on the most common questions we receive. If you can't find an answer to your question, simply use the button below to request a new FAQ, and we'll do our best to assist you promptly.

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Login Issues / Technical Support

If you have forgotten your password, use the “Forgot Password” link on the HMIS login page.  You will receive an email to reset your password. 

NOTE: If you have not logged into your account for over a month, your account has gone inactive.  Please email hmis@sacstepsforward.org so we can reactivate your account.

HMIS will lock you out after three unsuccessful attempts to access the system. The good news is that you are only locked out for a few hours.  For additional assistance, please email hmis@sacstepsforward.org.

For security reasons, our system automatically inactivates all users who have not logged in within the last 30 days.  Most of the time, this will be why your account is inactive.  To resolve this issue, please email hmis@sacstepsforward.org so we can manually reactivate your account.

TIP: For users who do not use HMIS often, we highly recommend that they set a calendar reminder every 20-25 days to avoid being inactivated.

You can log in to the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) for Sacramento and Yolo County at: https://sac.clarityhs.com.

There are multiple places you can reference for additional HMIS help. Please visit us during our Open Office Hours and Wednesday Workshops  so we can provide you with one-on-one assistance. For visual aids and videos review our Training Manual, Training Videos, and Job Aid materials. Another extensive help center resource is the Bitfocus Clarity Help Site, provided by our HMIS developer.

Thanks for asking! Yes, it is important that you let HMIS know if any of the HMIS users on your staff are no longer employed at your organization. Not only is this a part of the HMIS Partner Agency Agreement, but this is part of our shared responsibility of keeping the information in HMIS safe and secure. Please let us know about this user’s change of employment status within 24 hours.

Please view our documents webpage for locating important HMIS documents pertaining to the following topics: HMIS Training Documentation, Releases of Information (ROIs) and Client Consent, HMIS Consumer Notices and Privacy Statements, HUD Data Standards, HMIS Access Documentation, and Getting Your Clients Doc-Ready. 

To request additional agency access for an HMIS user, please have a supervisor or someone in a leadership position email hmis@sacstepsforward.org with the request.

Access Roles enable or restrict viewing and editing rights for HMIS End Users.  This is a list of the most commonly used roles in order from the least to the most amount of access:

  • Read Only Rights allows the user to simply view the basic information in the system.
  • Services Only has very limited viewing access in HMIS.  Other than viewing some of the information in the system, this access level can create services within active program enrollments, add notes, and add public alerts.  They cannot complete assessments, refer clients, or enroll/exit clients from programs. 
  • Direct Service Staff is our most commonly used access level.  Users are able to view/create/edit client records, program enrollments, services, assessments, contacts, locations, files, notes, and public alerts.  They can also access the report library and run many of the canned and custom reports in the system. 
  • Supervisory Access is designed for users who supervise other staff.  In addition to the abilities of someone with Direct Service Staff access, they also have limited rights to delete information in the system, access to reports that allow them to monitor staff activity, and the ability to create their own custom reportings in the Data Analysis section.
  • Administrative Access Is designed for administrative and data quality staff members who are responsible for managing the data for a program.  In addition to having the same access as Direct Service Staff, they have full access to reports, allowing them to create and save their own data analysis reports. 
  • Reporting and Monitoring Only is a special access level for users who not participating in a program but are pulling report data to monitor the program’s results.  This access level allows the user to view all of the information for program enrollments, run both canned report and custom reports, and build and save their own data analysis reports.

Global Client Profiles

To begin searching for a client, click on the search tab in the upper right side of the screen.  Beyond simply searching for the client’s full name, there are several ways to find a client in HMIS.  You can pull up the last four digits of the client’s social security number or their date of birth.  You can also search for the client’s first three and last three letters of their name.  For example, you could search for San Cla to find the record for Santa Claus.  For additional information on how best to search for a client to avoid creating duplicate accounts, please review pages 15-16 of our HMIS Training Manual.

NOTE: Before creating a new HMIS account for a client, please search for them carefully to avoid creating duplicate client accounts.  If you find a duplicate client account, please contact hmis@sacstepsforward.org and provide us with the two UIDs so the accounts can be merged.

When adults or unaccompanied minors are seeking services together, they can be entered as a household in HMIS.  First, verify that each family/household member exists in the HMIS. If they do not exist, complete the steps for “Adding a New Client” to create a profile for each family member. In order to be counted as “Family Members” in the HUD APR, clients must be entered in a household BEFORE enrolling in the Program. Please follow these steps to create or modify a household:

  • Open the profile for the “Head of Household”.
  • Navigate to the upper-right corner, under the header “Household Members”, select “Manage”.
  • Search for members directly from the Family/Household screen. From the search results, mouse over the client name to produce the “Add” (or “Join”) option.

For more information about households in HMIS – including how to create a household in the global profile and how to remove members from a household – please review pages 21-23 of our HMIS Training Manual.

If you are unable to find the client, you may add a new client from the client search screen using the add client function.  Please make sure you complete all fields on the intake screen with the proper response.  Once you have created a new client account, please review your intake to ensure accuracy and completeness.

For further explanation on adding new clients please utilize pages 19-20 in the HMIS Training Manual. 

Adding client files and photos to their HMIS accounts can help clients keep track of their documents and allow for easy access to for other community partners. Within the client’s profile, hover over the image box and select ‘Update Profile Photo’. To upload files, use the “File” category in a client’s program enrollment.  For more directions on how to do complete this uploads, please review pages 40-47 of our HMIS Training Manual.

While our general guidelines state, “HMIS records should use a client’s full, legal name whenever possible,” the intent is to help users find records and avoid duplicate client accounts when clients have nicknames.  Due to the amount of unintentional trauma that is caused by using deadnames (given names that do not match a client’s gender identity) and incorrect pronouns, which continually reminds clients of their trans-identity and otherness, we suggest that HMIS users put the client’s real chosen name in the main name section.  If they have documentation with their deadnames on them, please put the deadname in the alias section on that same page.  By doing this, any search in HMIS for their deadname will still pull the account up. 

Additionally, we suggest that HMIS users update any client information on the global enrollment page to reflect the client’s current gender identity and sexual orientation. Name change issues are common and often challenging for transgender people.  While these issues can be resolved if a client gets changes their legal name and gender with the state, the ability to do so is based on financial privilege and the ability to navigate bureaucratic barriers.  If you have any clients who would like to legally change their name and/or gender, we recommend reaching out to community resources for assistance.  In Sacramento, the Gender Health Center can assist clients with the court paperwork for a name and gender change.  This paperwork includes a fee waiver request.  If your client does not qualify for the fee waiver, they can contact the national Transgender Lifeline to apply for a microgrant to pay for court fees.

Release of Information (ROI)

Every active client in HMIS must have a valid ROI in the system or have their client profile made private.  If you are creating the client’s HMIS profile, you will have to answer the ROI question before you can save their profile.  If your client is already in the system, they may already have a valid system wide ROI.  Before enrolling a client in a new program, it is the responsibility of every agency to make sure the clients has a valid ROI on file.  If the ROI is about to expire soon or they don’t have one, please make sure you get one and upload it into HMIS prior to enrolling them in your project.  For more information, please check out our ROI Job Aids.

When you have clients in a household together, it can be a little difficult to figure out how to enter their ROIs.  Firstly, you need to obtain ROIs for all members of the household that are legal adults (18 and older). Each adult ROI should be entered into the system the same way you would enter any individual client.  For any clients who are minors (17 years old or younger) will will use the Household ROI category.

For more information on adding ROIs, please review our Adding ROIs for a Household

If a client is missing a system wide valid ROI, HMIS will show a yellow banner across their account page to alert all users.  To resolve this, you will need to add a new ROI for this client.  To do so, simply select the security shield in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.  Choose “Add Release of Information” on the Release of Information bar.  Then fill out the form and save it.  You can choose from three ROI types: 

  • Electronic Signature allows the client to sign electronically on a tablet or phone
  • Attached PDF allows a user to upload a scanned copy of a physical document the client has signed (blank form links below)
  • Household is the category used to indicate proxy consent by a parent or guardian for a client who is 17 or younger.

You can find the Sacramento County HMIS ROI and the Yolo County HMIS ROI on our website.  For more information on how to add missing ROIs to a client’s file, please review the top of page 17 of our HMIS Training Manual.

All HMIS clients need an ROI in the system.  When clients with children sign ROIs, they are signing not only on their behalf but also for all of the underage clients that are in their care.  To document this consent, HMIS users put in a Household ROI for each minor client, using the dates from the parent’s ROI to document that we have permission to share this minor’s information with other agencies.  Please review our Adding ROIs for Households Job Aid and our Understanding ROI Categories Job Aid to make sure you are up to speed on the consent requirements for the system.


Clients are auto-exited from most HMIS programs if they have not had any services or assessments entered into the program within the last 90 days. You can avoid this by entering services regularly. HMIS recommends that every active client have at least one service a month entered into HMIS.  Services help to document the length of a client’s homelessness (chronicity) and facilitates inter-agency communication regarding services, client location, and housing opportunities.

To “undo” an auto-exit, simply go to the exit screen, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Reopen Client Program” link. Turn on the “clear all exit data” toggle and hit save. Now your client is still enrolled in your program as if nothing happened. For more information on reopening an enrollment, check out our Reopening an Enrollment when your Client Has Been Exited Job Aid

For definitions and direction on choosing a destination for your client when you exit them from a program, please review both HMIS Training Manual pages 36-37, 2024 HMIS Data Standards, and Appendix Documents.

To enroll a client or household into a program start by selecting the down arrow next to the applicable program under the programs tab in HMIS. If the client is part of a group, you will be given the option add group members. Toggle on those group members you wish to include, if applicable. Scroll down and select the “enroll” button. Complete all fields in the enrollment page for your client and click “Save & Next”.

If any other group members were included in this program, their Enrollment page will automatically come up next until each member has been completed. Continue to click “Save & Next” after completing each group member’s Enrollment. Enrolled group members will be listed in the right side bar under “Program Group Members”. 

For information on enrolling clients into programs – including enrolling families or adding additional family members to already exiting enrollments – please review pages 23-25 of our HMIS Training Manual.

In the event a client doesn’t want to share their information with other agencies, it’s the responsibility of the user to make their program (enrollment information) private. Please follow these steps to privatize the enrollment:

  • Under the ‘program’ tab hover over the appropriate program name and select the edit icon.
  • From the program screen, locate the program details box in the upper-right hand corner. Next to the ‘Assigned Staff’ select the edit icon.
  • Toggle on the “Make Program Private” box and then “Save Changes”. You must follow the same steps for all household members

For visual aids and more details on this process please review page 25 of our HMIS Training Manual.

Once you are in a client’s profile, click on Programs and edit the program that you’d like to enter services into.  Once you are in the program, select the “Provide Services” tab to explore various services offered by the program.  Once you have chosen a service, enter the Start Date and any other applicable information.  Make sure you put a checkmark next to any household members who will also be receiving this service.  For more information on how to add services, please review pages 26-27 of our HMIS Training Manual.

There are times when you need to edit or delete services in a client’s enrollment, such as an accidental program enrollment.

To edit or delete a service, simply go to the “History” tab in your client’s global profile.  Scroll down until you see the service you’d like to change.  If you hover next to the service you will see both an edit and delete option.  Either delete the service or make any changes necessary and then save. 

All clients must be properly exited upon completion of a program. There are a few steps to take to complete this task:

  • Search for your client and then go into your client’s program enrollment by clicking the edit button on the Programs Tab.
  • Once in the program enrollment, click on “Exit” on the right hand of the screen. If this is a group enrollment, you will be prompted to select which household members you want to exit from the program.
  • Complete all data in the End Program screen.
  • Click “Save and Close”. 

For more information on client exits from programs, please review our How to Exit a Client Job Aid. 

If you need to add or edit Program Housing Inventory in HMIS, please fill out the Sacramento CoC-503 Housing Inventory Form or the Yolo CoC-521 Housing Inventory Form

Referrals and Assessments

The referrals tab can be accessed from the Client Search option. When a referral is sent to your agency and you are the person that has been identified to receive the referrals for a project in the system, you will receive an email notice that includes the Unique Identifier (UI) of the client that is being referred. Paste the UI in the search box in the Pending tab. For further instruction on referrals, please review pages 37-40 of our HMIS Training Manual.

The VI-SPDAT, or Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool, A pre-screening, or triage, tool designed to be used by all providers within a community to quickly assess the health and social needs of homeless persons and match them with the most appropriate support and housing interventions that are available. For detailed instructions on how to utilize this assessment review our VI-SPDAT Training Manual and Appendix Documents.

Our Referrals to a Program from the Community Queue Job Aid details the most common tasks performed in the referrals tab of HMIS when a client is referred to the community queue and then re-assigned to be referred to a program. Please reach out to our help desk hmis@sacstepsforward.org for any additional assistance.  

Please use our How to Process Referrals (CAS Shelter Providers Only) Job Aid to get detailed instructions on how to process program referrals from CAS. This process is intended for agencies participating in Coordinated Access System (CAS) shelter referrals ONLY. It is the responsibility of the shelter provider to:

  • Enter bed availability.
  • Enter intake appointment outcome.
  • Processing the program referral, i.e. enroll into the shelter program or deny the referral.

Completion of Annual Assessments at regular intervals are required for all active clients. Annual Assessments are to be completed anytime from 30 days prior to 30 days after the anniversary of the Head of Household’s project entry date. Status Assessments are required to capture significant changes for the client and can be completed at any time.

For step-by-step instructions on completing status and annual assessments, please review pages 28-30 of our HMIS Training Manual.

For Sacramento CoC, we require the Current Living Situation assessment for Emergency Shelter programs, Street Outreach programs, and Services Only/Supportive Services Only (SSO) programs. The purpose of this survey is to record each contact with people experiencing homelessness by street outreach and other service projects. Additionally, it provides information on the number of contacts required to engage the client and to document a current living situation as needed in any applicable project. For directions on how to complete the assessment please visit pages 33-36 in the HMIS Training Manual.


For basic information on how to run reports, please review pages 47-49 of the HMIS Training Manual.  For additional information, please visit our Job Aid Library for detailed instructions on running different report types. 

This program-based report lists program stay information for clients with the selected status in the selected programs. A client will be listed more than once if they have enrolled in a program more than once in the report date range, or if they have enrolled in more than one program when multiple programs are selected. The status options are:

  • Active: The client is actively enrolled for at least one day within the report date range.
  • Enrolled: The client’s enrollment date is within the selected report date range.
  • Exited: The client’s exit date is within the selected report date range.

For information and directions on the Program Roster Report, please utilize our Program Roster Job Aid.

For step-by-step directions on how to run a program roster for the 2023 HIC and PIT reporting period, please visit our Program Roster (2023 HIC and PIT) Job Aid.