The DESC Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT) allows staff to distinguish more objectively the relative vulnerability of the homeless men and women who come to our shelters or whom we otherwise encounter in the community through outreach or referrals. This tool, which has gone through rigorous study and several modifications is comprised of a set of scales, each rating the individual's level of functioning, health, and other specific characteristics relevant to their personal safety.
The tool was first put to use in the DESC main shelter program nearly a decade ago as a way to determine who among the many would receive one of the limited beds available each night. By identifying a vulnerability rating for each client, staff were able to assign beds to those individuals who were most at risk of being victimized or injured, of harming themselves, of coming to harm simply because they could not take care of their basic needs, or of being unable to make progress without substantial support. Following the VAT's success in the shelter program, the Vulnerability Assessment Tool was implemented in the DESC supportive housing program to better allocate our limited housing resources to those clients with the greatest need.
In March of 2010, the University of Washington concluded a research evaluation of DESC's Vulnerability Assessment Tool and concluded that it held strong properties of both reliability and validity.
At this time, DESC's Vulnerability Assessment Tool has become widely recognized by other homeless service providers regionally and nationally, as a viable instrument for determining placement of chronically homeless people into supportive housing. DESC offers training in the use of the VAT to other public and private homeless service agencies. The training includes a detailed manual and interview script.
Vulnerability Assessments for DESC Supportive Housing Placements
DESC manages applicants for our Supportive Housing projects by prioritizing them according to a Vulnerability Assessment score. If you are a Seattle/King County area provider and wish to obtain a Vulnerability Assessment for your client for placement in one of DESC's Supportive Housing projects, please click here and provide us with your contact information.
Your client must be homeless and you will need to confirm her/his disability in order to be eligible for DESC Supportive Housing. Once you have submitted your contact information, a DESC Housing Program case manager will contact you to arrange for your client to be assessed.
If your client is currently using the DESC Emergency Shelter, there is no need to request an assessment. Assessments are conducted as part of the intake process for Shelter clients and occur daily.
Vulnerability Assessments for other seattle area Housing Programs
If you are a local housing provider and would like DESC to conduct Vulnerability Assessments for applicants to your housing program, please contact Karyn Boerger, Manager of Entry Services, at 206-515-1546.
If you need further information regarding DESC's Vulnerability Assessment Tool, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download an Introduction to the Vulnerability Assessment Tool here.