SB 5898 provides technical assistance to any participating local government, or its designated subcontractors at the local level, to implement confidentiality and privacy policies relating to personal information collected and maintained about homeless individuals and families, and those who have experienced domestic violence. Personal information means name, physical address, email, IPO, telephone or fax number, social security number, date of birth, racial or ethnic background, religious affiliation, that, in combination with any other non-personally identifying information, would identify an individual, or likely disclose the location of a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
For the Washington homeless client management information system, this bill removes the requirement of just obtaining informed consent in writing, or telephone, from a homeless individual. The individual must be given an explanation of what personally identifying information will be disclosed to which agencies, how the information will be accessed, and given the right to decline their personal information be shared, or once shared, their information be removed from the client management information system, without adverse consequences or denial of services. Homeless housing and service organizations must provide a written copy of their confidentiality and privacy policies in a language the client understands. A person 13 years old or older can give consent for the collection of their identifying information.
Protocols for data collection must be developed by, but not limited to, a statewide membership of homeless housing agencies, community-based victim service organizations, and other experts on privacy and confidentiality. These policies cannot conflict with federal data requirements. Service providers are expected to adopt reasonable safeguards to protect the information they maintain. In merging information in the Washington homeless client management information system with other data gathering and reporting systems, all relevant agencies must adopt safeguards to protect personal identifying information from redisclosure, and adopt procedures to remove or destroy such information.
Local governments may develop or use a comparable referral system in collaboration with victim service providers to provide housing and support services for homeless individuals who have experienced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
The disclosure of personally identifying information does not constitute a waiver of any privacy or confidentiality rights a homeless individual has under other statutes, the rules of evidence or common law.
Human Services, Mental Health, Housing Amendment: As amended, SB 5898 states that an individual can have a copy of the confidentiality and privacy policies upon request. Facsimile is not considered personally identifying information. If an unaccompanied minor appears for services at a provider who uses HMIS, the provider must contact the minor’s parents or guardian and law enforcement. If the parents cannot be reached, the provider must contact DSHS.