How it works in Memphis.
The Memphis homeless response system requires a lot of upkeep to work as mindfully as it does, and providers put in overtime to help it improve. However, the service model sits under the weight of regulation. See below to learn how Memphis puts together federal funds to address community need and where its challenges loom.
ACCESS POINT: Memphis utilizes a ‘no wrong door’ approach, a model that does not enforce a central access point. However, in order to help advance the case of those experiencing homelessness, there is a central hotline service to help triage individuals and families looking for support. At this time, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) in Memphis acts as that central hotline for all.
STREET OUTREACH: Individuals who may be experiencing homelessness and are unaware of who to contact or where to go might be engaged by street outreach, who work across the Memphis/Shelby County area to engage with those in need.
MEDIATED & EXISTING HOUSING SOLUTIONS: Simply put, the traditional response system is meant to be a last resort, and both street outreach and workers at access points attempt to mediate person’s options. This means walking individuals/families through all available options and confirmingthere are no alternatives (e.g. staying in their home through rent relief, staying with friends/family on temporary or permanent bases).
SERVICES: A catch-all, but those experiencing homelessness may be self-sufficient and simply need stabilization services to back pay utilities, to help provide regular transportation to their place of work, or to gain advocacy for dealing with a landlord.
HOUSING ASSESSMENT & VI SCORE: Every community utilizes an assessment in order to gather indicators around what an individual/family is dealing with on their path to stable housing. The assessment provides a standardized score that helps place those experiencing homelessness into a priority group. That way, as housing becomes available, the most vulnerable are housed first. In Memphis, the Vulnerability Index - Service Prioritization Data Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT), or commonly ‘VI,’ is currently utilized. Once completed, it provides a score of 0-16, which is then considered alongside whether or not individuals/families are considered chronically homeless. Typically, a score above an 8 indicates a better fit for permanent supportive housing (PSH), and a score below an 8 indicates a better fit for rapid re-housing (RRH).
COORDINATED ENTRY PROCESS & BY-NAME LIST: Coordinated Entry (CE) is a systematic response to anyone experiencing homelessness within Memphis and Shelby County. Our Coordinated Entry System (CES) was created to identify, assist, house and prevent homelessness in a swift and efficient manner. The CES is composed of a variety of CoC-funded housing providers, street outreach staff, and community partners that serve persons experiencing homelessness. Once a VI score is recorded, an individual is placed on the By-Name List (BNL), which is an active waiting list used to prioritize those most vulnerable for open housing programs. Bimonthly meetings are held to engage providers and outreach staff in case conferencing and collaborative conversations surrounding BNL clients’ situations to help facilitate referrals for housing placements.
SELF-RESOLVE: This term refers to individuals/families who have located a housing solution on their own accord and no longer require ongoing support or access to community resources.
CASE MGMT. SERVICES: To differentiate from services, case management services refers to the fact that someone is behind how a bus pass is delivered or a social security card is reissued. Case managers are the underpaid, over-houred workers who do not stop supporting clients after a housing solution is located but commit their energy to building in long-term stability.