Building Changes is calling on communities across the country to reconsider use of the VI-SPDAT, a widely used Coordinated Entry standardized assessment tool that helps determine who gets prioritized for housing referrals. A new study, funded by Building Changes, finds that use of the VI-SPDAT unfairly favors white people over people of color, thereby perpetuating racial inequities within the homeless system.
Building Changes believes strongly that communities have an obligation to address inequities that negatively impact the efforts of people of color to transition successfully out of homelessness and into stable housing, including any barriers that restrict their access to services.
The C4 Innovations study, released today, asserts that people of color—both single adults and families—experience system-level inequities from a tool specifically designed to objectively capture who among those experiencing homelessness have the highest levels of vulnerability. Under U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development rules, those assessed to be most vulnerable are given priority for receiving housing resources from the homeless system. Housing for people experiencing homelessness is scarce, and the resource therefore must be doled out equitably, free of any influence of racial bias.
Building Changes enlisted Massachusetts-based C4 Innovations (formerly the Center for Social Innovation) for its expertise in developing research-based solutions that advance housing stability for people who are marginalized. Building Changes and C4 share the same commitment to eliminate racial disparities and achieve equitable outcomes in the homeless system.
The VI-SPDAT consists of a series of uniform questions around 16 different indicators of vulnerability. Persons being assessed receive an overall “vulnerability score” based on their answers to the questions, and those with the highest scores are prioritized for referrals to housing programs, such as Permanent Supportive Housing or Rapid Re-Housing.
This excerpt was published with permission. To read more about the study’s findings and how King and Pierce counties are working to create more equitable Coordinated Entry processes, please visit Building Changes‘ News blog at