Vulnerability Index: Fact Sheet

Vulnerability Index and Registry Creation Fact Sheet
By Common Ground for the Community
March 8, 2010
Urban Ministry Center and Charlotte Housing Authority
In February 2010, the Charlotte Housing Authority and the Urban Ministry Center in partnership with Common Ground collaborated with community volunteers and agencies including Homeless Services Network, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Department, Mecklenburg County Community and Homeless Support Services and City of Charlotte Neighborhood & Business Services, Harvest Center, Nexus Breakfast, Salvation Army Center of Hope, Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Center for Community Transitions, Samaritan House, Clara’s House of Love, Substance Abuse Service Center, Mint Street Feedings, and the VA to create a name-by-name list of all chronically homeless in Charlotte. Over three days, beginning at 6am until 9pm, teams of more than 115 volunteers surveyed chronically homeless individuals. Chronic homeless is defined as more than a year or four times in three years. Individuals homeless less than that amount of time and children were not surveyed.
In addition to systematically gathering the names, pictures, and dates of birth of individuals sleeping on the street and in shelters, the teams also captured data on their health status, institutional history (jail, prison, hospital, and military), length of homelessness, patterns of shelter or mission use, and previous housing situation. These data were collected by use of a 33 item questionnaire. The Vulnerability Index was used to identify those who have been homeless the longest and are the most vulnerable. This list will be used to target new and available housing and service resources to the most vulnerable in an effort to reduce chronic homelessness. 
The Vulnerability Index is based on research by Dr. Jim O’Connell, which shows certain medical conditions place a homeless individual at a higher risk than others for dying if they remain on the streets. 
  • Individuals were pre-screened to make sure the fit the definition of chronic homeless.
  • 807 chronically homeless individuals were identified and surveyed in more than 15 locations including streets and tent camps.
  • 388 (47%) were found to have health conditions associated with a high mortality risk
  • More than 100 community volunteers from houses of faith, agencies and UNC-Charlotte Department of Social Work helped administer the surveys.
  •  476 pictures were taken as part of the survey
At-Risk Indicators
At-Risk Tri-Morbid
3x  Hospital last year
At-Risk ER over 3X
At-Risk Age Over 60
At-Risk Cirrhosis
At-Risk ERSD
At-Risk Cold/Wet Weather Injury
Older Adults
  •  54 (7%) are over 60 years old
  • The oldest respondent was 68 years old
  • Twelve individuals reported being homeless longer than 10 years
  • The longest reported length of homelessness for a senior was 25 years
Years Homeless
  • The average years homeless for the Vulnerable population is 6.1 years.
  • The average years homeless for the Non-Vulnerable population is 4.3 years.
  • The longest reported length of homelessness was 35 years
  • 26 vulnerable report being homeless longer than 20 years—more than LA’s Skid Row
Service Needs (Total Surveyed)
  •   312 people reported a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse
  •   308 people reported a history only of substance abuse
  •   59 people reported only signs or symptoms of mental illness
  •    84% of respondents report at least one behavioral health issue
Health Conditions (Total Surveyed)
  •  143 people reported having asthma
  •    85 people reported having diabetes
  •   77 people reported having Hepatitis C
  •   107 people reported having heart conditions
  •   34 people reported having emphysema
  •    23 people reported having Cancer
Veterans (Totaled Surveyed)
  •    116 (15%) surveyed were Veterans
  •    87 (75%) were honorably discharged
  •    61 of the Veterans met criteria for “Vulnerable”
  •    7 vets have been homeless longer than 20 years
Youth & Foster Care (Totaled Surveyed)
  • 14% respondents report having a history of foster care
  • 46 respondents were under 25 years old
  • The youngest respondent was 18 years old
  • 11 respondents under the age of 25 have increased mortality risks specific to that age group (Youth risk factors are HIV/AIDS, drink alcohol everyday for past 30 days, injection drug use)
Inpatient Hospitalizations (Total Surveyed)
  • A total of 584 inpatient hospitalizations were reported in the past year at an average annual cost of $1.2 million.
Emergency Room Visits (Total Surveyed)
  • A total of 1157 ER visits were reported by all respondents in the last 3 months
  • 20 respondents accounts for 25% of the reported ER visits at an estimated cost of
$1.2 million in the last three months
Health System Impacts (Total Surveyed)
  • 594 (74%) report having no insurance
  • The majority of respondents having no insurance go to CMC Emergency Room (44%), CW Williams (11%), Presbyterian Emergency Room (9%), CMC Myers Park Clinic (6%) and No Care (20%)
  • 291 or 32% report being a victim of a violent attack since becoming homeless
Common Ground
  • The mission of Common Ground is to end homelessness by transforming people, buildings, and communities. Founded in 1990, Common Ground rapidly grew to become the largest developer and manager of supportive housing in New York City, and has pioneered a new approach to outreach called Street to Home that is being replicated in cities across the country.   Common Ground is currently organizing change agents to find and house the 100,000 most vulnerable homeless individuals in America as part of it’s 100,000 Homes Campaign. 
Urban Ministry Center
  • Founded in 1994, the Urban Ministry Center is an interfaith organization that serves poor and homeless people with love and compassion and tangible help. Services include a soup kitchen; showers, restrooms and laundry facilities; phone and fax service; nurse and medical referrals; Room in the Inn winter shelter program (December – March); SABER drug treatment program; Homeless to Homes supportive housing program.
Contact Information:
Caroline Chambre
Director of Housing Programs
Urban Ministry Center