Wednesday, September 9, 2015

De Jong’s Message – Treat Individuals Like… Individuals!

Dr. De Jong
Last week we had the privilege of hosting the renowned Dr. Iain De Jong for a few training sessions, as well as another installment of our series of Hard Conversations. MDHA and Metrocare Services, who co-sponsored the visit with us, also had the chance to consult with him and gain from his wisdom and experience. Dr. De Jong is the President and CEO of OrgCode Consulting. He is a well-known innovator and passionate advocate for those experiencing homelessness. He developed the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT), a widely used robust evidence based tool that helps objectively assess, score, rank and prioritize individuals for housing solutions.

The three training sessions were fascinating, funny, and down to earth. De Jong spoke about Assertive Engagement Training, Solution-Focused Conversations and Housing First, respectively. The Housing First approach argues that homelessness is a housing crisis, that everyone is housing ready, and that homelessness is best solved by the provision of housing, with supports and services tailored to the needs and preferences of persons experiencing homelessness.

In the Hard Conversation at the Dallas Public Library, which co-sponsored the free event, De Jong’s subject was worded very carefully, “Who Deserves Housing First?” He spoke about what Housing First really means in practice, how the evidence backs it up, and what communities and organizations need to do, if they really want to take Housing First seriously.

The thread that was common throughout De Jong’s visit was that we need to treat every individual experiencing homelessness, as just that, an individual. We need to address every individual where he or she is, not where we wish they were. Basically, we need to treat every individual experiencing homelessness like we would want to be treated. We need to do this, not only because it is kinder and more humane; we need to do this because when we look at the evidence, the cold hard facts, it is the only approach that actually works.

This visit was just the first step. De Jong will be returning to Dallas for future visits, as he helps us at MDHA, with many more partners in the community, build an effective homeless response system, that will make homelessness in our community rare, brief and non-recurring.  So, stay tuned; you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

For more information on Dr. Iain De Jong and the groundbreaking work being done at OrgCode, check out

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