BOSTON — The first-in-the-nation Pay for Success initiative to reduce chronic individual homelessness in Massachusetts has successfully placed over 250 individuals in stable, supportive housing, exceeding the minimum goal set by the Commonwealth for its first year by over 50 individuals and paving the way for significant cost savings in emergency room and inpatient care.
The Pay for Success initiative being implemented by the Massachusetts Alliance for Supportive Housing (MASH) for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts focuses on providing permanent, low-threshold supportive housing to those who would otherwise rely on costly emergency resources, enabling them to address their often complex health issues more effectively than they would on the streets or in shelters. MASH is a partnership of the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA), United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).
“Preliminary data suggests that by focusing on housing chronically homeless individuals and long-term homeless individuals who are high utilizers of emergency care, the Pay for Success initiative will have a significant impact on the utilization of emergency resources,” said Joe Finn, President and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance.
MASH conducted a comprehensive assessment of the individuals placed in permanent supportive housing this year through the Pay for Success initiative. It found that in the six months prior to entering housing, the 250 individuals housed through the Pay for Success initiative this year as of June 1, 2016, had accumulated:
- 18,917 nights in shelter
- 1,816 days in the hospital
- 541 emergency room visits
- 690 nights in detox treatment
Of the 250 tenants, 200 have been enrolled in the MassHealth Pay for Success Community Support Program for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness (CSPECH) program, an innovation of the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership and MHSA that is recognized nationally as a model for funding the support services component of permanent supportive housing with Medicaid dollars.
“The collaboration with our partners in the private sector to provide supportive housing to address chronic homelessness will greatly improve the quality of life for many of our most vulnerable residents while also saving the Commonwealth money,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore. “I applaud the early success of this initiative and am proud of the work by the Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Alliance for Supportive Housing to end homelessness in our state.”
“This Pay for Success initiative is enabling the Commonwealth to rapidly scale approaches such as the ‘Housing First’ model and MHSA’s Home & Healthy for Good program at a rate that would not be possible without the upfront private capital and philanthropic investment of the partnership,” said Jeffery Hayward, Chief of External Affairs at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “It is exciting to see models that are proven to work funded at a level that is providing dignity to some of our most vulnerable individuals, significantly reducing our state’s chronically homeless individual population and creating potential savings in other costs like incarceration, shelter and emergency care.”
The innovative Pay for Success initiative leverages a mix of philanthropic funding and private investor capital from Santander Bank, CSH and United Way to provide the upfront funding for social services. If the goals of the PFS initiative are met, the government compensates the investors for undertaking the investment risk. If the goals are not met, the government is not obligated to repay the investors. An independent evaluator, Root Cause, will determine if the Pay for Success initiative has achieved its goals.
“So many vulnerable people have been helped already; it is certainly an achievement that this initiative has exceeded its minimum goal for the first year,” said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of CSH. “But even more impressive is the scope of the providers they have attracted to the table as partners, particularly the healthcare and managed care organizations that recognize we can reduce costs and improve the health of vulnerable people through the stability that comes with supportive housing.”
“These first-year results demonstrate how important it is for the public and private sectors to work together to create innovative, results-based strategies to address chronic homelessness,” said Gwen Robinson, Managing Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, at Santander Bank.
The Pay for Success initiative, led by the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and CSH, will provide at least 500 units of stable, supportive housing for up to 800 individuals, reducing the Commonwealth’s number of chronically homeless individuals by half over six years.