Urban Institute
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Exciting interim results show Denver’s supportive housing social impact bond is paying off

December 12, 2018 - 4:42pm

Less than two years into the Denver Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond (SIB)—a five-year project that provides affordable housing and wraparound services to support people experiencing chronic homelessness and cycling in and out of jail—the initiative is paying off for the City of Denver, homeless residents, and investors.

A recent interim evaluation of this pay for success (PFS) project, conducted by researchers at the Urban Institute, found that the program, though only halfway completed, continues to meet its targets and yield positive results.

  • Participants are entering and remaining in housing. From January 1, 2016, to June 30, 2018, 285 people experiencing chronic homelessness moved into the SIB’s supportive housing. Eighty-five percent of these participants remain in housing and have never exited the program. Forty-four participants exited housing—14 of whom passed away, and 30 of whom exited for other reasons (primarily because of jail stays that lasted more than 90 days, but also as a result of hospitalizations or lease violations). The high proportion of participants staying housed is the primary indicator of its exciting progress.
  • Participants are experiencing fewer jail stays. After a year in housing, 44 percent of participants had not returned to jail—a high proportion for a population that was previously highly involved with the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, 56 percent of participants had at least one jail stay, and most of these had only one stay. Jail stays averaged 34 days, which is significantly fewer than the average number of 77 days this population spent in the few years leading up to their participation in the program. Future evaluations will compare the number of days that supportive housing residents spent in jail with a control group of people from the target population who continue to receive usual community services, and they will explore the reasons for the jail stays.

Based on the SIB contract, the city repays investors who initially funded the project if predetermined housing stability outcomes are met. Urban calculated—and an external validator confirmed—that 136 participants met the requirement of staying in housing for a year or having a justifiable exit, spending a combined 67,855 days in housing. To date, investors have received $1,025,968.

For more on the Denver results, check out what participants say about the program’s impact and the following resources from Urban experts:

Have a Pay for Success question? Ask our experts here!

As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Scholars are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research. Photo via ShutterStock.