Aug 09, 2012

Jake Maguire's picture Posted By Jake Maguire

HUD Highlights Campaign's Use of Vulnerability Index

HUD's quarterly publication, Evidence Matters, has highlighted the 100,000 Homes Campaign for its use of the Vulnerability Index to identify and prioritize vulnerable homeless people for permanent housing:

...A new organization headed by Haggerty, Community Solutions, is taking this systems-change strategy and the Vulnerability Index to the national level with the 100,000 Homes Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to engage communities nationwide in the cause of permanently housing the nation’s most vulnerable and long-term homeless individuals by July 2014. The 100,000 Homes Campaign started in 2008 with a few pilot communities whose successes and best practices were built into a model that could be used (or replicated) by other communities wishing to end homelessness in their community. As of May 2012, 124 participating communities had housed 13,928 chronically homeless people and raised $174,000 for move-in kits featuring basic items, such as eating and cooking utensils, needed to begin housekeeping.
Becky Kanis, Community Solutions’ director of innovations and the 100,000 Homes Campaign, reports that the organization has learned significant lessons as the campaign has matured. One of the insights gained during the campaign’s first 18 months is the importance of building a strong local team that will drive sustainable changes in housing systems. The communities that are finding success in the campaign have engaged an array of stakeholders united around a shared goal of reducing chronic homelessness in a particular geographic area.16 Community Solutions has also learned that using the Vulnerability Index changes perceptions about homelessness. When local volunteers survey homeless individuals in the early morning hours to learn their names, take their photographs, and identify their health problems, there is a secondary benefit beyond assessing the need for services. The personal connections forged with people who are ill and need a place to live motivate volunteers to make a difference on behalf of these vulnerable individuals. Haggerty observes that this personal connection is essential to the campaign because “with [this] change in perceptions, changes in political will and systems tend to follow.”
Kanis also notes that localities have eliminated numerous administrative and bureaucratic barriers to improve or speed up access to housing assistance and services for chronically homeless and vulnerable people. When Kanis helps a local campaign map out and analyze an existing housing system, she often finds practices and beliefs that are pervasive but no longer necessary. Local campaigns are advised that lining up the supply of housing and getting people into housing with supportive services as rapidly as possible means negotiating for housing resources en masse and eliminating all but the most essential elements of the housing application.17 Some local campaigns have made significant progress in shaving days off the time it takes to house people, such as in Washington DC, where housing placements are achieved in an average of 30 days, compared with 6 to 9 months elsewhere. Eight communities are surpassing the campaign’s benchmark of housing 2.5 percent of their documented vulnerable chronically homeless population each month, whereas others have rates as low as 0.1 percent, Kanis reports...