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ADJOURNED 'til Thursday at 11 a.m. (informal)
ADJOURNED 'til Thursday at 11 a.m. (formal)


By Colin A. Young

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 13, 2018.....A partnership that uses a social innovation financing model to reduce homelessness announced Tuesday that it has placed more than 650 individuals into housing, triggering dividend payments to partners who invested in the program.

Massachusetts Pay for Success Initiative to Reduce Chronic Individual Homelessness said it has "significantly exceeded targets" and placed 656 individuals into stable housing and that 92 percent have remained housed after one year.

"The Pay for Success initiative has successfully met its targets for housing retention, demonstrated a reduction in utilization of medical services by clients, and demonstrated a cost-benefit," Joe Finn, president and executive director of the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance, said in a statement.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning at Pine Street Inn, where Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Matthew Doherty spoke about the "significant impact" the program has had on Bay Staters.

The people housed through the Pay for Success initiative had accumulated 49,891 nights in shelters, 3,110 days in a hospital, 1,162 emergency room visits and 865 nights in detox before being housed, according to the MHSA.

The initiative was launched in 2015 by the state, MHSA, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Santander Bank and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley with a goal of housing 800 chronically homeless individuals by 2019.

The initiative uses philanthropic funding and private capital from Santander, CSH and the United Way to provide upfront funding for social services. If an independent evaluator determines the initiative has achieved specific outcomes -- and only if the project is deemed a success -- the state pays investors back for taking the investment risk.

Santander Bank and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley each invested $1 million of private capital into the program and each received dividend payments of $102,200, according to a United Way official.

The Corporation for Supportive Housing invested $500,000 into the program and received a dividend payment of $51,100.

Also Tuesday, advocates and service providers from St. Francis House in Boston assembled at the State House to keep their Moving Ahead Program -- and its funding needs -- on the minds of lawmakers as budget season gets underway.

"Housing and employment are the cornerstones to a successful recovery," Karen LaFrazia, president and CEO of St. Francis House, said. "For the last 20 years we have been investing in workforce programming and the Moving Ahead Program is probably our cornerstone or hallmark program."

The Moving Ahead Program is designed to help people with histories of substance abuse, mental illness or incarceration find and maintain jobs. According to St. Francis House, all program participants reported being homeless when they entered the program. In addition to an employment readiness curriculum, the program includes 16 weeks of transitional housing, job coach support and internship opportunities, a weekly stipend and an MBTA pass, legal support, clothing and an image consultation program, and access to a network of 1,500 alumni.

In fiscal year 2017, the Moving Ahead Program served 94 students and 61 percent of them successfully graduated from the program, St. Francis House said. Seventy-six percent of graduates were sober and employed at the time of graduation, earning an average hourly wage of $14.08, the organization said.

The State House lobby day event was a chance for St. Francis House supporters to make their case to lawmakers that the Legislature should set aside $150,000 in the next budget to support the Moving Ahead Program.

"The Moving Ahead Program at St. Francis House really does work. It's not just throwing money at an issue," Sen. Joseph Boncore, who said he plans to file and support and amendment allocating funds for the program, said. "It's a program that's giving them transferable skills, skills that they can take into society, skills that will help them stabilize their lives, skills that will help them get a job."


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