The City of Denver’s Social Impact Bond Initiative (SIB) recently surpassed its permanent supportive housing goals and is now set to make its second payment to investors. The Urban Institute reports that within the first two years of the program’s five-year implementation period, 285 chronically homeless individuals have been housed, surpassing the initial program goal of 250. After being housed and provided supportive services for one year, participants are spending significantly less time in jail, down to an average of 19 jail days per year from 77 days on average before receiving housing and services. It is estimated the city saves an average of $29,000 per resident participating in the program.
The aim of the Denver SIB is to provide housing stability and supportive resources to chronically homeless individuals - who often have interactions with the criminal justice system - and ultimately to decrease their use of emergency resources. The program combines housing with therapy, food referral, and substance abuse programs. Both the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, an NLIHC state partner, and the Mental Health Center of Denver have been crucial to the program’s success by assisting participants to locate housing options and other resources.
The SIB program was announced at the June 2014 Clinton Global Initiative forum as an effort by the City of Denver to invest in effective public-private partnerships utilizing a “pay-for-success” model. The Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission estimates that all chronically homeless in the city (beyond just those who participated in the program) spend an average of 59 nights in jail each year and frequently use city emergency services like those provided at emergency care and detox facilities, costing about $7.3 million annually. As the homeless move in and out of jail, their wellbeing deteriorates and tax-payer expenditures escalate. Private and philanthropic organizations invested $8.6 million into the bond at its start in 2016 and are repaid by the city only if the program achieves its goals.
“The success of the Social Impact Bond Program has been made possible by the strong partnerships within the program and the expertise of the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams which provide the supportive and therapeutic services that are essential to keep people stably housed,” said John Parvensky, president and CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “The fact that almost 99% of the individuals we've outreached to have accepted housing demonstrates that when appropriate housing resources and services are provided, we can start making real progress towards the solution to homelessness.”
Read John Parvensky’s opinion letter about the Denver SIB at: https://bit.ly/2SiOXBI
Watch a video on the program’s impacts on clients’ lives at: https://bit.ly/2Qru3mv