Homeless Advocates Grow Vulnerability Index, Miss Housing Target

Service providers for Nashville’s homeless have added more than 300 names to a growing list of the most vulnerable people living on the streets.

The Vulnerability Index attempts to rank homeless people by how sick they are. Outreach workers canvas the city and wake up people sleeping outside to ask them 45 questions about illnesses, insurance and hospital visits. 27% of the respondents qualified as tri-mordid. That means they suffer from a mental illness, use drugs and have a chronic medical condition – making them at risk of dying on the streets.

The point of the survey is to find housing and service for those tri-morbid people first. Corey Gephart of the Park Center says it’s a more efficient use of funding.

“Housing someone is definitely going to decrease their trips to the emergency rooms, decrease their trips to the jails.”

On average, nearly all of those surveyed had one visit to the emergency room in the previous three months, and most were uninsured. 84% had spent time in jail.

“I think it’s kind of a community effort to try to get out there and house as many as we can. I’m not sure the funds are there to assist some of these people to get into the housing that’s needed.”

Last year, the Metro Development and Housing Agency committed to finding homes for 35 on the vulnerable list and has helped just 19 so far.

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