Pay for Success

Bouncing in and out of shelters and emergency rooms with no stable place to call home is no way to live. For the more than 1400 chronically homeless individuals in Massachusetts, though, it can feel like there’s no other option.

How it Works

The Pay for Success initiative, begun in 2015 as a strategic partnership with United Way lead partner Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, aims to end this cycle. Its goal: provide at least 500 units of low-threshold, stable housing for more than half of Boston’s chronically homeless individuals by 2019. As of January 2019, Pay for Success has housed 789 individuals, and so far 89% of them remain in the program or have successfully exited toward a better living situation.

To function, Pay for Success uses a mix of philanthropic funding and private investor capital from Santander Bank, CSH, and United Way. If the initiative meets is goals, the government compensates investors for the risk they took providing the the money to fuel the program. An independent evaluator, Root Cause, determines whether Pay for Success is meeting its goals.

Program Progress

Everyone housed by Pay for Success now has a roof over their heads. They sleep soundly knowing they have a place they can call home and won’t be braving the mercurial Boston weather.

There are upsides for the community as well. In the six months prior to their entrance into the Pay for Success program, tenants accumulated:

  • 59,927 nights in a shelter
  • 3,664 days in the hospital
  • 1,440 visits to the emergency room
  • 989 nights in a detoxification center
  • 688 ambulance calls

Removing these financial burdens saved the Commonwealth $2.2 million and counting. That’s money ready to go back into the community and create real change for people in need.

Find highlights from the monthly Pay for Success fact sheet»