Minimum Requirements of a Common Assessment Tool

  • Assessment must be evidence-informed, including all of the following:
    • Tested and refined (not beta version)
  • Outside evaluation has determined the tool’s effectiveness including validity and inter-rater reliability
  • Assessment must be able to use a standardized scoring system to assist communities in determining the appropriate level of intervention for the homeless individual or family. These interventions, in all cases, should result in a permanent housing placement and facilitate referrals to the existing inventory of housing availability.  The assessment should determine a standardized way to refer to a community’s existing inventory of:
    • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) or long-term (permanent) care facilities
    • Rapid Rehousing  (or program providing time limited housing/rental and services supports, but resulting in stable, permanent housing).
    • Affordable Housing only – no services supports necessary to result in stable, permanent housing
  • Assessment must be able to be used with homeless individuals and families; and must be able to be used with all sub-populations of homeless individuals and families, including but not limited to veterans and youth/TAY.
  • Assessment must be worded in such a way that homeless clients (including those with low levels of educational attainment, severe mental illness or other barriers to comprehension) can understand and respond accurately to. Users should recognize that assessment, both the kinds of questions asked and the context in which the assessment is administered can cause harm, especially if they require people to relive difficult experiences, and should have protocols established for addressing the impact of the assessment on the wellbeing of the homeless individual or household.
  • Assessment must be able to be used by non-clinical staff including outreach workers and volunteers.
    • If use of the assessment is not free of charge, the community agrees that it has the resources necessary so that all providers can use it.
    • Community has the ability (financial, time and expertise) to provide initial and ongoing training on the use of the Assessment tool.
  • Ideally, the initial assessment is (or can be) combined with an ongoing assessment that delves deeper into context, history, environment and severity of an issue in a more nuanced manner and can be used to determine changes in client functioning and quality of life over time.
  • The assessment should use a Housing First frame. The tool should not be used to determine “housing readiness” or screen people out for housing assistance.