Urban Institute
Research Analyst
Urban Institute
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Texas county aims to house 250 homeless people through pay for success

May 24, 2018 - 3:21pm

A budding pay for success (PFS) project in Travis County, Texas aims to house and provide wraparound services to 250 people experiencing chronic homelessness over the course of five years. A feasibility report published by the Corporation for Supportive Housing found that these frequent utilizers of the county’s medical, emergency, and jail services cost taxpayers on average $222,000 per person a year. PFS stakeholders hope that the project will reap cost savings—estimated at $43 million after investor repayments—and fulfill Austin’s goal to tackle homelessness.

Spearheaded by the nonprofit Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), the project aims to raise $15 million to fund services—including subsidized rental housing, case management, and other social services--but will need to secure $17 million from government end payors to fund potential success payments. The City of Austin, Travis County, and Central Health (Travis County’s health care district) have tentatively agreed to cover $11 million, leaving ECHO to find end payors for the remaining $6 million. Success payments will likely depend on the number of days participants remain housed, a decrease in the number of participants incarcerated, and reductions in hospitalizations and emergency department usage.

When this project launches, it will join six other active PFS projects implementing permanent supportive housing. Housing and homelessness have proven to be a key area of interest among PFS stakeholders because of the high costs this population poses to society, the cross-sector implications of homelessness, and existing evidence-based interventions that exist. Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, commented, “Being able to use private money to prove out the efficacy of social programs is kind of a new and novel and innovative concept, […] and I think that Austin, as an innovative and creative city, needs to be one of the players at the table.”

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