VI-SPDAT tips from OrgCode

Iain De Jong of OrgCode–the creators of the VI-SPDAT–has written a terrific blog post about the VI-SPDAT. I highly recommend that you click through to read the post: VI-SPDAT: 14 Things That Irk Me.

Here are a few excerpts which address some issues relevant to our CoC:

Don’t have an inconsistent introductory script. 

If you want reliability in using the VI-SPDAT, make sure that every person that administers the tool in your community introduces it and explains it in EXACTLY the same way. No variation.

Based on this comment, I am working on a draft introductory script for CoC review. Once we decide on language, it will be made part of our paper form and on-line VI-SPDAT entry.


Don’t use it too far up stream.

Diversion first at shelter entry. When that does not work, give people a chance to self resolve. Only when that does not work should a community dig into the VI-SPDAT. If you do the VI-SPDAT right away, you may inadvertently give up on people that may otherwise self resolve.



Understand how the questions were actually created.

Most of the questions within the tool were actually created by people experiencing homelessness. We would take the research to them in shelters, drop-ins, hygiene facilities, in the woods, etc. and we would say, “We need to ask a question about x, y or z. How would you ask yourself that question?” Then we tested it and refined it. Over and over and over and over again.


Don’t think it is a perfect tool.

The tool provides data. It does not make decisions, it informs decisions. The tool is not perfect. It will continue to evolve and improve. It is the best available tool based upon the best available evidence and testing. Continue to have an active voice in making it better.

But really, you should read the whole thing: VI-SPDAT: 14 Things That Irk Me.





One thought on “VI-SPDAT tips from OrgCode”

  1. Yes, always ask the people you are serving. And most of the time we are more harsh on each other and value privacy a lot less than a place to stay that is dry. AND most of us DO want to provide for OURSELVES and our loved ones. So help us to do just that. One of the kindest things Julie Borowski did at Open Door (part of Open Pantry) was to tell e of a maintenance job that I had until the company moved to another job force company, and I went to MCDI for some training I had always wanted. BUT she did not push me down, she gave me the opportunity to EARN my own money and provide for myself as I tried to “climb out of the hole” I had been pushed in. Put yourself in your “client’s” shoes. Then you will know how they feel. They are there asking for help, most of them, because they have to and if they had any choices at all they would maybe die rather than be coming begging. And when we go right to the VISPADAT instead of helping folks to self-resolve, we might push many into making that self destructive decision to opt out entirely. My friends and colleagues I is so hard to recognize you are homeless and you just know (or you think you know) that somehow you could have avoided the situation, or so you think. We see so many arrogant and pushy people that want only things for themselves and the (blank) with anyone else. BUT these are not the majority of the undocumented homeless. These are the ones “using the system” and I want to see supports to help people NEVER get to the point of becoming homeless. I said this before and I will most likely say it until I die. Being homeless is like being raped. The innocence is gone. You came to the door once and the key did not open the lock. You never fully trust any key again. It might not open the lock in the future even it it does today. Becoming homeless is pretty much a “forever” thing psychologically. The fact that at one time you did something (does not matter if you are at fault or not, the homeless person often blames them selves just a a battered wife blames herself) AND now you are homeless and it is all YOUR FAULT and you have let down so many of your family and friends by allowing yourself to get into this situation. It does not matter if that is true or not, it is what many a homeless man thinks. So if you can help up to NOT become homeless you have helped us to retain some small bit of sanity that “slips away” once the fact of homelessness is a recorded incident. I will shut up. Just know the folks you want to use the tool and “help” have the same feelings of pride and all of that which you and I have now. And it is just plain “Living Hell” for them to come before you, admit they are pretty much helpless, and seek even just advice. Please do not “push them into the system” even if you think it is “for their own good” as they are so very fragile right now and need some kind words far more than anything the ‘system’ can give.


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