HUD System Performance Measures:
Evaluating Progress in Ending Homelessness

Mary Ann Priester

Senior Management Analyst
Mecklenburg County Community Support Services

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates that Continuums of Care (CoCs) evaluate their performance as a coordinated system to assess their system’s collective work towards preventing and ending homelessness. To that end, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has developed seven System Performance Measures. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is required to report performance on six of these measures to HUD annually. The measures are not only a part of the selection criteria for CoC funding awards but can and should be used locally to monitor progress and drive system improvement.  Over the next several months, the Building Bridges Blog will examine local performance on each System Performance Measure and explore what these measures and local performance mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

This blog provides an overview of the HUD System Performance Measures and presents information and data on System Performance Measure One.


The HUD System Performance Measures provide a comprehensive understanding of community performance in relation to preventing and ending homelessness. The measures not only evaluate progress in reducing the overall number of persons experiencing homelessness but also provide insight into whether the coordinated system ensures homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring.

System Performance Measures include:

  1. Length of Time Persons Remain Homeless
  2. Returns to Homelessness Within 24 months
  3. Number of Homeless Persons
  4. Employment and Income Growth for CoC funded projects
  5. Number of People Who Become Homeless for the First Time
  6. Prevention and Housing Placement for Persons Defined by Category 3
  7. Successful Placement in or Retention of Permanent Housing

Future blogs for each System Performance Measure will provide an overview of each measure’s desired outcome, what’s being measured, and who’s included. This blog will focus on Measure 1: Length of Time Homeless.


Length of Time Homeless consists of two metrics:

  • 1a: Change in the average or median length of time a person remains homeless in Emergency Shelter or Safe Haven; Change in the average or median length of time a person remains homeless in Emergency Shelter, Safe Haven, or Transitional Housing
  • 1b: Change in the average or median length of time from a person’s self-reported approximate start date of homelessness to  housing move-in

Metric 1a tells us how effective our system is in ending homelessness once a person has become homeless and entered an emergency shelter, safe haven, or transitional housing. It includes all people enrolled in an emergency shelter, safe haven, and transitional housing during the federal fiscal year.

Metric 1b tells us in general, how long people are experiencing homelessness. One of the required HMIS data elements from HUD is the “Approximate Start Date of Homeless”. For this field, people are asked to self-report when their homelessness started. The measure calculates the length of time homeless from self-reported start date of homelessness to housing move-in date or when a person moves into a permanent housing destination. Persons enrolled in Emergency Shelter, Safe Haven, Transitional Housing, or Permanent Housing (literally homeless at entry) during the federal fiscal year are included in this metric.

The desired outcome for both of these metrics is a reduction in the average and median number of days a person experiences homelessness or that the average and median number of days are close in value. Low average and median number of days suggests that the system is able to support households who do become homeless in rapidly exiting the system to stable housing thus ensuring homeless episodes are brief. Average and median numbers that are close in value suggest that there are not disparities in the number of days households experience homelessness. That is, there are not some households who are experiencing long episodes of homelessness (which would raise the average) but rather the experience is brief and consistent across populations.

For federal fiscal year, FY 22 (October 1, 2021-September 30, 2022) in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the average and median length of time homeless has decreased for both metrics. Contributing factors for this reduction may include targeted efforts to connect individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent housing resources. Such efforts included targeting a portion of Emergency Housing Vouchers to individuals who had experienced homelessness for longer than a year but did not have a disability and thus did not meet eligibility criteria for permanent supportive housing. Additionally, privately funded single site permanent supportive housing units came online that were targeted toward people who had experienced long term homelessness but otherwise did not meet program funding eligibility requirements or had difficulty obtaining housing due to housing market barriers.

As is indicated in the chart, the average length of time homeless is almost 3X the median length of time which suggests that as a system we continue to have a significant number of people who are experiencing lengthy episodes of homelessness. A deep dive into these data suggests 41% of those experiencing long term homelessness are older adults (age 55+), 50% self-report a disability, 50% report some form of income, 71% identify as male, and 73% identify as Black, African American, or African. Local services providers identified flexible subsidies, bridge and senior housing, and supportive employment as critical to support this population in their exit from homelessness.


In order to ensure the effectiveness of the performance of the local coordinated system of care for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Continuums of Care (CoCs) must examine systems-level data. HUD System Performance Measures provide the framework to complete this necessary work.  Each measure reveals not only how well our system is functioning but where there might be opportunities for improvement. Charlotte-Mecklenburg reviews these data on a quarterly and annual basis. Together the measures provide a comprehensive picture of system performance and drive funding decisions and systems change.