Tag Archives: Homeless Vulnerability Index

Promising Strategies Series: Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT)

Our Promising Strategies Series blog entries are intended to offer a brief overview on specific approaches to end homelessness. We will post links to external sites where you can find more in-depth information.

Representatives from DESC out of Seattle, Wash., were in Nashville from April 24-26 to train a group of service providers on the Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT) that will further help determine who in our community is most vulnerable and in dire need of housing.

DESC developed the VAT about 10 years ago and applied it at its main shelter to determine who needs a bed for the night most urgently. The tool allows programs to give priority to people who are extremely vulnerable if left to fend for themselves.

The VAT rates a person’s level of functioning and health and includes other specific characteristics to determine individual safety. More specifically, the VAT examines 10 different areas to measure vulnerability:

  1. Survival Skills;
  2. Basic Needs;
  3. Indicated Mortality Risks;
  4. Medical Risks;
  5. Organization/Orientation;
  6. Mental Health;
  7. Substance Use;
  8. Communication;
  9. Social Behaviors; and
  10. Homelessness.

Click the following link for an introduction to the Vulnerability Assessment Tool.

DESC has a close working relationship with the University of Washington and a research evaluation conducted on the VAT in 2010 concluded that the tool holds “strong properties of both reliability and validity.”

We are honored that DESC representatives travelled to Nashville to train a select group of outreach workers and service providers in utilizing the VAT properly.

How’s Nashville plans to use the VAT in conjunction with the Vulnerability Index (VI). The VAT goes into more details while the VI mostly relies on self-reporting. Utilizing the VAT will give us an extra layer to help determine who among our neighbors living in the streets and shelters are most vulnerable. We plan to prioritize housing, starting with the most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals in our community.

About DESC: The Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) is a nonprofit organization based in Seattle that works to end the homelessness of vulnerable people, particularly those living with serious mental or addictive illnesses.  Follow the link to read DESC’s full mission statement.

Volunteers needed for Registry Week

How’s Nashville is looking for dedicated volunteers to help survey individuals experiencing homelessness in our city during Registry Week, which is scheduled for May 28-June 4.

The surveying takes place in the early morning hours from 3:30-5:30, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

We are also in need for help with data entry during those three days and offer two shifts from 8-11am and from 11am-2pm.

Volunteers are requested to participate in a volunteer training on Tuesday, May 28, from 5:30-7pm. We also invite you to a community brief-back at 10:30am on June 4 in the Downtown Library.

Please sign up to volunteer online.

Registry Week is an effort to help our campaign identify the most medically vulnerable individuals who experience homelessness in our city. Once people have been surveyed, our volunteers will help enter the data into the Vulnerability Index. The Vulnerability Index allows providers to determine housing priority based on people’s medical fragility. Our goal is to prevent further deaths in the streets of Nashville. That’s why the How’s Nashville campaign partners determined to use this tool and start by focusing on housing the most vulnerable individuals and individuals who fit the description of chronically homeless.

The information of the Vulnerability Index will be used according to strong confidentiality standards. Other cities including Nashville that have aligned itself with the national 100,000 Homes Campaign have created a team of local service providers who meet weekly to help house people in need quickly.

How’s Nashville follows the Housing First principles, which moves individuals or families from the streets directly into permanent housing and links them with needed services. Bringing together a core team of service providers helps determine what type of services need to be provided to keep people housed longterm.

If you want to be a part of How’s Nashville and help us end chronic homelessness in our city, please volunteer for Registry Week.

Registry Week

Registry Blog

Currently we are in need of volunteers to help us conduct surveys during our upcoming Registry Week. If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up online.

Nashville was represented at a Registry Week Boot Camp organized by the 100,000 Homes Campaign in San Antonio, Texas, in March.

Under the leadership of Metropolitan Homelessness Commission Director, Will Connelly, the following community representatives learned how to organized and implement an effective Registry Week that will identify some of the most vulnerable and chronic homeless persons in our community: Will Connelly, Metropolitan Homelessness Commission; Kirby Davis, First Management Services, Inc.; Ingrid McIntyre, Open Table Nashville; Suzie Tolmie, MHDA; Madge Johnson, The Living Room & Open Table Nashville; Ashley Blum, Park Center; and Judith Tackett, Metropolitan Homelessness Commission.

The Registry Week’s purpose is to create a local Vulnerability Index. While Nashville has completed its first Vulnerability Index in fall of 2008, the community decided that it was time to update it and conduct a new Registry Week at the launch of our renewed effort to end chronic homelessness in our city.

The 100,000 Homes Campaign describes the Vulnerability as follows:

The Vulnerability Index is a tool for identifying and prioritizing the homeless population for housing according to the fragility of their health. It is a practical application of research into the causes of death of homeless individuals conducted by Boston’s Healthcare for the Homeless organization, led by Dr. Jim O’Connell and Dr. Stephen Hwang. The Boston research identified the specific health conditions that cause homeless individuals to be most at risk for dying. For individuals who have been homeless for at least six months, one or more of the following markers place them at heightened risk of mortality:

1. More than three hospitalizations or emergency room visits in a year

2. More than three emergency room visits in the previous three months

3. Aged 60 or older

4. Cirrhosis of the liver

5. End-stage renal disease

6. History of frostbite, immersion foot, or hypothermia

7. HIV+/AIDS

8. Tri-morbidity: co-occurring psychiatric, substance abuse, and chronic medical condition

Click the following link to read the full Vulnerability Index document from the 100,000 Homes Campaign.

Homelessness is lethal. The longer vulnerable persons remain on the street, the higher their risk of death. Nashville’s Campaign wants to prioritize housing need utilizing the Vulnerability Index.

The next step, after Registry Week, is to line up housing supplies and streamline the process of assisting people move into housing and remain housed.