By removing $500,000 for a social impact bond project (also known as Pay for Success), the General Assembly is leaving nearly $3 million dollars on the table in federal funding to help chronically homeless Rhode Islanders.
“Pay for Success would bring a potential $2.7M into the state help house people with significant challenges: our neighbors who keep going in and out of emergency rooms, the correctional system, emergency shelters,” explained Caitlin Frumerie, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. “Rhode Island spends anywhere from $5.5M to $7.5M through these expensive and often ineffective systems, when housing people is much more effective and cheaper. Right now we spend so much with little success.”
Pay for Success is a public-private partnership which funds effective social services through a performance-based contract. If, following an independent evaluation, the program achieves predetermined outcomes that benefit society and generate value for government, then government will make outcomes payments to investors. However, the government pays only at the level of outcomes achieved.
“Pay for Success would bring 125 vouchers for Permanent Supportive Housing, which pairs affordable housing with support services to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. According to the feasibility study we conducted, Pay for Success would save Rhode Island from $1.8M to $2.6M a year, in addition to the federal matching funds. Other states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, have implemented Pay for Success projects with positive outcomes that realized significant savings for their state governments.”
Governor Gina Raimondo included $500,000 for Pay for Success in her original budget, as a line item in Commerce Corps. It was removed from the budget in the House Finance Committee’s hearing this past Friday.
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“Passing that $500K will immediately unlock nearly $1million in federal funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Department of Justice,” said Frumerie. “Furthermore, we applied for additional $1.725M from the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA) fund, essentially a national Pay for Success fund run by the United States Treasury. Yet the feds need to see that Rhode Island wants to be a partner in this work with a project on the ground. They want to know that we’re committed to building a better system that delivers results and is fiscally responsible. Removing this funding sends the opposite message, and we will be cut off from receiving millions of dollars as a result.
“It’s another 125 vouchers for Permanent Supportive Housing. On any given night in Rhode Island, 198 of our neighbors are experiencing chronic homelessness,” continued Frumerie. “Through Pay for Success, we have the best possible path to helping those Rhode Islanders in need. Through our hard work, we secured millions of dollars that does not come from Rhode Island taxpayer funds for this project. We assembled a comprehensive working group of stakeholders who meet regularly to move this forward. All that progress goes out the window with this budget cut. We urge the General Assembly to restore the original $500,000 for Pay for Success.”