Salt Lake County’s Homes Not Jail Program

The Problem

While progress has been made in reducing chronic homelessness in Salt Lake County, UT over the past decade, there are many individuals in need of safe and affordable housing who do not yet qualify as “chronically homeless” but may soon—43% of persistently homeless individuals become chronically homeless within two years. Nearly half of persistently homeless individuals have been sent to the County jail multiple times.   

The Basics

Location: Salt Lake County, Utah

Policy area: Homelessness

Service provider: The Road Home

Size of investment: Not publicly available

Maximum success payments possible: $5.55 million

Investors: Northern Trust, QBE Insurance Group Limited, Ally Bank, Reinvestment Fund, Sorenson Impact Foundation, Living Cities, James Sorenson Family Foundation, Larry H. and Gail Miller Foundation, George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, Synchrony Bank, Zions Bank

Intermediary: Sorenson Impact Center

Other partners: Third Sector Capital Partners, Government Advisor and Transaction Coordinator; Dorsey and Whitney LLP, Legal Advisor; Utah Adult Probation and Parole, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Utah Homelessness Management Information Systems, Volunteers of America, Community Partners.

Evaluator: Utah Criminal Justice Center at the University of Utah

Evaluation methodology: Randomized control trial

Outcome payor: Salt Lake County

Outcomes that yield payments: A 30% improvement on months without jail or shelter, with an average $3,500 paid back to investors per day avoided; an 80% graduation to permanent locations, with $2,300 paid back to investors per graduation; a 100% improvement in substance abuse treatment enrollments, with $5,000 paid back to investors per enrollment; and a 100% improvement in mental health treatment enrollments, with $5,000 paid back to investors per enrollment. If all rates are met, the program will achieve 1,500 more stable housing months (defined as months without jail or shelter), and 250 placements to permanent locations.

Timeframe: Six years

Date announced: December 2016

The Intervention

Intervention: In place of jails or shelters, The Road Home’s Homes Not Jail program will provide 315 persistently homeless individuals (individuals who have spent between 90 and 364 days in emergency shelters or on the streets and do not qualify for other housing services in the County) with rapid re-housing services over six years. This will include move-in support, rental assistance, roommate matching for peer support and cost efficiency, and case management services for self-sufficiency and employment needs.

Evidence base behind the intervention: The Homes Not Jail program is based on the Housing First model, which prioritizes helping individuals and families access rental housing as quickly as possible. Beneficiaries of the model can access housing faster and are more likely to remain in stable housing – studies have shown that between 75 and 91 percent of households remain housed a year after being rapidly re-housed.  The model is based on the theory that social services are most effective for individuals and families when they have stable housing; thus, graduating a series of social programs isn’t a requirement for obtaining housing under the Housing First model. Individuals taking part in the model are more likely to participate in job training programs, attend school, discontinue substance use, have fewer instances of domestic violence, and spend fewer days hospitalized than those not taking part.  

Homes Not Jail also adopts the models of Harm Reduction, which aims to reduce the negative consequences of substance abuse while “neither condoning nor condemning any behavior”; Motivational Interviewing, which is designed for individuals “who are particularly reluctant to change” or ambivalent about changing their behavior; and Trauma-Informed Care, which emphasizes an awareness and understanding of beneficiaries’ trauma while providing care. Each of these models, in addition to the Housing First model, are supported by growing bodies of evidence as well.