Chicago Planning Council OKs CCH Youth Committee request to adopt Youth Vulnerability Index

CCH’s Youth Committee, made up of 41 youth service providers statewide, has been working to promote a more fair ranking system for unaccompanied homeless youth who are trying to access permanent housing.

Currently, Chicago uses a centralized waiting list, called the Central Referral System, for people to access permanent supportive housing. The referral system ranks people according to a “vulnerability index,” which assesses the likelihood of someone dying on the street if s/he does not access housing. 

Youth providers contend this is not a fair measure of young people’s vulnerability as they are less likely to have chronic health conditions or diagnosed disabilities.

Through its research, our Youth Committee found an assessment tool tested in the city of Los Angeles by researchers at the University of Southern California. The USC index measures the likelihood of youth experiencing homelessness for more than five years.

On Feb. 19, the Youth Committee went before the Chicago Planning Council, an elected body of service providers, consumers and government partners that oversee Chicago’s homeless service system. The planning council agreed that Chicago’s Central Referral System will incorporate the youth vulnerability index, ranking youth ages 18 to 24.

Providers on the Youth Committee will be testing out the assessment tool in Chicago, interviewing homeless youth to see if the measure matches case managers’ assessments of youth vulnerability.

– Julie Dworkin, Director of Policy