This is a letter in a blog. I wanted this to be more personal than a typical blog, but only have the blog medium to reach so many of you. I’ve got good news and bad news.
Let’s start with the good news!
Version 3 of the VI-SPDAT for Single Adults, after almost two years of refinement and testing, is ready for release in the USA and Canada. You can find all of the American materials here and all of the Canadian materials here. Tools for other population groups will be out shortly.
Now the (potentially) bad news.
Pandemics, it turns out, teach tough lessons. Some of my most trusted American colleagues have suggested now is the time to look at the use of triage and assessment tools in prioritization differently in the US as a result of the disaster recovery funding. With so much federal funding being made available for rapid rehousing, the VI-SPDAT may inadvertently slow things down and may be neither helpful nor necessary in some jurisdictions in the recovery process. The VI-SPDAT may have more usefulness when there is greater scarcity of housing resources. I know this is potentially a big change for some of your organizations and communities. We should collectively lean into discomfort and start to vision how to achieve the intentions of prioritization tools in a different manner if that is necessary. We are committed to ending homelessness and don’t want any of our contributions to the field to interfere – or be perceived as interfering – with the mission.
All that said, if you choose to use the new tools in the US, we are here to support you. There are training videos and helpful background materials on things like its history and how to appropriately use the tools. Your jurisdiction may reach the conclusion that you want to continue to use the VI-SPDAT in prioritization. You should find all of these materials help you get up to speed quickly on the changes and implementation guidance.
But, if you are in the US and decide now is the time to break up, we understand. It’s not you, it’s us. We’ve changed as best we can, going to great lengths to address feedback on Version 2. We are proud of the product we have created. All the same, we know some of you want to go in a new direction, and that the changes we made may still not be enough to meet your local needs in pandemic recovery or prioritization. On our end, we definitely don’t want the VI-SPDAT in any version to be an impediment to pandemic recovery efforts. Let’s still be friends even if you choose to no longer use the VI-SPDAT.
For all of you that may be interested in a well-developed assessment tool that can be used to effectively support people in case management, take a look at the (full) SPDAT…one of the two tools that helped inspire the VI-SPDAT in the first place. Unlike the VI-SPDAT, you need to be trained on how to use the SPDAT. Let us know if you are interested in a conversation about that.
As for our Canadian friends, the new Canadian version of the tool is relevant for everything happening regarding common tools and coordinated access. Nothing has changed in that regard. Canada’s recovery response and homeless system design is substantially different from our American cousins…not better or worse, just different.
A special thank you to all that helped create Version 3, and those trusted colleagues willing to have tough conversations when it is warranted. This is an interesting time of discovery, dialogue and discernment. It is a time of growth, and with the right perspective, a time of great opportunity. Throughout the developed world, we may never get as great a chance again in our lifetime to impact homelessness and the homeless response system in the same manner.
Be well. Be awesome.