New High Impact Project Case Seeks to Address the Discriminatory Impact of the VI-SPDAT

The Barbara McDowell Foundation is pleased to announce the partnership between social justice organization, Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance (MoGo), and the law firm Sheppard Mullin, coordinated through the Foundation’s High Impact Litigation Project. The case seeks to address the discriminatory impact of the VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool) by exploring litigation to enjoin its use and requiring training and/or certification for individuals administering the tool.

The VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool) is a survey administered both to individuals and families to determine risk and prioritization when providing assistance to homeless and at-risk of homelessness persons. At one point it was utilized in at least 40 states. The score an individual or family receives on the VI-SPDAT is vitally important as it not only determines prioritization of aid and services, but it also preliminarily determines the kind of aid someone can receive. Numerous studies since the creation of the VI-SPDAT have found that the tool produce significant disparities on the account of race and disability. 

This case has the potential to hold government entities accountable for lax oversight of service providers who benefit from state and federal taxpayer funds. Additionally, this case will lay the legal groundwork for invalidating the use of the VI-SPDAT in other jurisdictions across the nation. The causes of action fall under the ADA, Unruh Civil Rights Act, Equal Protection, and the Rehabilitation Act. The case is in preliminary stages and has yet to be filed. 

To read more about the case and the Foundation’s High Impact Litigation Project, click here. 

(January 2022)