This report is prepared for BC Housing as part of the evaluation of the Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT). The VAT was created by the Downtown Emergency Service Centre in Seattle, Washington, to objectively determine the vulnerability of their clients to continued housing instability. The VAT involves a structured interview to assess an individual experiencing homelessness or marginal housing on 10 domains: survival skills, basic needs, indicated mortality risks, medical risks, organization/orientation, mental health, substance use, communication, social behaviours, and homelessness.
BC Housing and non-profit housing societies in Vancouver have been using the VAT since 2014 to assist in the placement of clients into supportive housing units. BC Housing initiated this evaluation to determine to what extent the VAT has been achieving its objectives, identify lessons learned, and inform whether stakeholder should continue to use the VAT. Although the VAT has been tested on its psychometric properties, there have been no published reports on its use within service agencies and its use with clients. Therefore, this evaluation serves an important function in understanding the functionality of the VAT. The methodology for this evaluation involved a mixed methods design. Quantitative data was collected from administrative records provided by BC Housing for seven housing facilities and analyzed in order to demonstrate trends. Qualitative data was collected from building managers of the seven housing facilities, assistant managers, tenants and VAT assessors.
The following are key findings of the quantitative and qualitative results. In reviewing these findings, it should be noted that they reflect the process used at a particular point in time for seven congregate model supportive housing buildings and to fill more than 500 units in new buildings. The influx of housing placements was not typical of the current situation of using the VAT to fill housing vacancies as they come up. This context should be considered in the interpretation of these findings. A further review of the VAT process should be considered which takes into account its current application.