To determine whether households are accessing all income sources for which they are eligible at the time of project start and to allow for analyzing changes in the composition of income between project start and exit.

An increase in income is a key performance measure of most Federal Partner programs. Collecting income information throughout a project stay supports plans to link clients with all income sources and benefits for which they are eligible and helps CoCs improve system design and partnerships by analyzing cross-systems connections to ensure access to additional income sources.

Data Entry Instructions

Indicate whether each head of each household served (including minor heads of their own household) and each adult household member have income and the sources of that income. Income and Sources collected at project start and project exit are to reflect the information as of the date of project start and the date of project exit.

Data Requirements Driven by Project Funder

Income data entered at enrollment, status update, annual assessment, or exit should be consistent with guidelines for calculating household income provided by a project funder if such guidelines exist. For example, for eligibility purposes, both CoC and ESG-funded projects are instructed to exclude income from the employment of a minor child from calculations of household income. The same is true for SSVF. However, recording income in at enrollment, status update, annual assessment or exit is not the same as performing an income evaluation for purposes of project eligibility determination or a rent calculation for the purpose of determining rental subsidy (24 CFR 5.609 and 24 CFR 5.611(a)). Data recorded in HMIS also does not replace the required income verification documentation that may be required by a funder.

In the absence of income calculation guidelines provided by a funder, as a general rule, any income associated with a minor used for household expenses and support should be included in the head of households Income and Sources record. Where the income is not relevant for household expenses, it could reasonably be excluded from entry. Projects may choose to collect income information for all household members including minor children within households, as long as this does not interfere with accurate reporting per funder requirements.

Accurately Entering Income Data

To collect income information, projects are expected to ask clients whether they receive income from each of the sources listed (either on paper or through client interview) rather than asking them to state the sources of income they receive. Unless the project funder requires documentation for record-keeping purposes, clients are not required to provide documentation of income or benefits. 

Income data should be recorded only for sources of income that are current as of the 'Information Date' (i.e. have not been terminated). Clients may identify multiple sources of income. 

  • For example, a client's employment has been terminated and the client has not yet secured additional employment. Record the response for Earned income as ‘No.’ 
  • For example, a client's most recent paycheck was 2 weeks ago from a job in which the client was working full time for $15.00/hour, but the client is currently working 20 hours per week for $12.00 an hour. Record the income from the job the client has at the time data are collected (i.e. 20 hours at $12.00 an hour).

When a client has income but does not know the exact amount, a 'Yes' response should be recorded for both the overall income question and the specific source, and the income amount should be estimated. 

Income and Sources are intended to identify regular, recurrent earned income and cash benefits. Services and/or gifts such as phone cards and vouchers that are provided by a project to clients during enrollment are fundamentally different and are not considered income.

Student financial aid is not to be considered income unless the financial aid includes a cash stipend. The source for such income would be considered ‘Other,’ and the source can be described in a text field. Be sure to check your funder's requirements, however. For example, SSVF does not allow grantees to include any student financial aid, including GI Bill Student Financial Aid.

Lump-sum amounts received by a family, such as inheritances, insurance settlements, or proceeds from the sale of property, or back pay from Social Security are considered assets, not income, and are not recorded in HMIS.

Income sources for minor children should be recorded on for the Head of Household. For example, if one or more children in a household receive SSDI toggle on the SSDI income source for the HoH and enter the total amount of SSDI in the amount field.

Likewise, if a client receives a spouse's pension, toggle on the appropriate income source on the client's record and enter the amount.

Food Stamps, aka Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is not considered income and should be recorded under non-cash benefits.

Ohio Works First (OWF) is a subsidiary of TANF and should be included in the TANF data field.

Recording Income Changes During a Project Stay

Status Update Assessment

An Income and Sources record must be created at any time during a project stay if income or sources change. This would include the situation when a minor child enters or leaves the household and the income received by the household changes as a result. In that case, enter the new Income and Sources in a Status Update (available from the 'Assessment' tab. 

Also when a minor child in a household turns 18 a new Income and Sources record must be created for the 18-year-old client reflecting any income associated with that client. If some existing income transfers to the 18-year-old's new record, an additional update record would need to be created for the Head of Household, reflecting the removal of that income from their record. 

Annual Assessment

An Income and Sources record must be created as part of an annual assessment for clients participating in a project one year or more, even if there is no change in either the income or sources. 'Information Date' for those records must reflect the date of the data collection, which must be no more than 30 days before or after the anniversary of the head of household's Project Start Date. Annual assessments are based solely on the head of household's anniversary date. The annual assessment must include updating both the head of household's record and any other family member's at the same time.

If a client's income information was recorded incorrectly at project start, update, assessment, or exit, correct the existing record, rather than adding an ‘update’ record.

More Resources

For more detailed and the most up-to-date information regarding HUD required HMIS Program Data Elements, please find the Data Standards Manual here: HMIS Data Standards - HUD Exchange.

Contact Us

If you need help, or wish to offer suggestions or feedback, please contact the Cincinnati/Hamilton County HMIS support team at HMISsupport@end-homelessness.org or by calling 513-263-2790 9:00am - 3:00pm Monday-Friday (excluding holidays).

When contacting HMIS Support, please do not include any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) such as names, social security numbers, birth dates, etc. Please only use the Clarity Unique Identifier found on the Clarity client profile page.