Meg Massey
Urban Institute
Outreach Manager, Pay for Success

Exciting progress shown in early results for Denver PFS project

October 30, 2017 - 3:34pm

The first results for the Denver Supporting Housing Social Impact Bond Initiative were announced today. This PFS project, led by the city of Denver, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Enterprise Community Partners, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and the Mental Health Center of Denver, provides people who are chronically homeless with a permanent supportive housing intervention. The promising results have led to the first “success payment” for the project’s investors.

The Urban Institute’s evaluation found that the program is meeting early targets: participants are getting housed and staying housed. Of the first 100 people referred to the program, within the first six months after being referred, 93 people were located, 88 people were engaged by service providers, 73 people had their housing applications approved, and 66 people signed a lease and moved into housing.

Of the 40 participants who could have been in housing for at least one year or had a planned exit, 33 were stably housed during this period and 6 had a planned exit from the program. Only one participant had an unplanned exit, and many are still approaching the one year milestone. Because of these promising initial results, investors are being repaid $188,000 – or $15 for each of the 12,457 nights the participants spent in stable housing and not in jail.

In some ways, these positive results are unsurprising: permanent supportive housing (PSH) has a strong evidence base, making it a good candidate for pay for success financing when traditional budget methods are not possible. The PSH model offers wraparound services for people who are chronically homeless, including support for struggles with addiction and other mental health challenges. Without PSH, many people who are chronically homeless end up cycling through emergency rooms, jails, courts, and shelters—a siloed approach that ends up costing the city and its taxpayers significant amounts of money without addressing the underlying drivers of chronic homelessness.

Urban will continue to measure the housing stability of the program’s participants through 2020 as part of its five-year randomized controlled trial evaluation and implementation study. 

Future reports will also examine the effect of supportive housing on participants’ jail stays in comparison to a randomly assigned control group. If the permanent supportive housing program continues to meet outcome benchmarks as specified in the contract, the city will make subsequent success payments to the investors.

For more on the Denver results, check out the following resources from our experts on

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