Coordinated Assessment

Consistent with HUD expectations, the Steering Committee anticipates that implementation of coordinated assessment offers Austin/Travis County the following opportunities:

Increased Referral Appropriateness

By standardizing the assessment process, clients can be assessed using consistent standards and matched to projects according to client need, eligibility, and preferences.  It also allows communities to prioritize access to the most expensive interventions (including Permanent Supportive Housing and permanent subsidies, such as Section 8 housing choice vouchers) to increase the impact and cost effectiveness of those interventions.

Increased Fairness

Consistent assessment protocols and coordinated data systems allow specialists to assess all clients equally and to match them according to need and vulnerability. Clients gain an opportunity to equally access all of the services in the community, regardless of the client’s location or point of entry.

Reduced Administrative Burden on Clients and Providers

Coordination reduces total assessment time by quickly capturing the most relevant information and forwarding/sharing it with appropriate community partners, reducing the number and length of interviews and limiting clients’ need to retell often traumatic histories.  Likewise, it also reduces the data collection and entry burden on providers, who can focus more on assisting clients than capturing information and documentation that has already been provided.

Improved Provider Coordination

Implementing standardized processes and coordinated data systems increases provider system awareness, communication and collaboration. Through collaboration, trust between organizations increases and commitments deepen.

Improved Resource Allocation and Planning

Coordinated assessment data can be used to generate aggregate data to support CoC resource allocation and planning. System planners can see where certain types of clients are going, what subgroups are being served most effectively by different programs, which geographies have service gaps, where projects have excess capacity, where duplication of services exists, etc.

Improved Competitiveness for Federal and Other Resources

Establishing a coordinated assessment system provides communities with the best opportunity to improve performance on HEARTH outcome measures (reducing average length of time homeless, reducing returns to homeless, preventing first time homelessness, etc.), reflecting the community’s progress on ending homelessness and increasing its ability to compete for Federal resources.  With improved collaboration and outcomes, local providers and the continuum will be more attractive to local, state and private funders, as well.

The Tool

The Vulnerability IndexService Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) is changing the intake and service delivery landscape. SPDAT was launched in 2011 and is now in use in more than 100 communities across North America — SPDAT is a best practices requirement in several of those communities.

The SPDAT uses the best available evidence to examine the components of a person or family’s life that are most likely to result in housing instability. The SPDAT helps to understand the depth of these issues; which household is most likely to benefit from which type of housing support intervention; which household should be prioritized above others based upon their acuity; and, informs the case management process so that staff spend their time working on those things that are most likely going to result in the person/family becoming homeless again.  In addition the SPDAT allows for case managers to better assess when a client is no longer in need of the intensive supports offered in PSH.

Learn more about VI-SPDAT here.