Massachusetts Chronic Individual Homelessness Pay for Success Initiative (Huff Post)

By Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of CSH (Corporation for Supportive Housing)

Yesterday was an exciting day for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and Santander Bank. Even more so, it was a very exciting day for hundreds of chronically homeless people who will have their lives changed forever because forward-thinking leaders came together, collaborated, innovated and made the "Chronic Individual Homelessness Pay for Success Initiative" a reality in Massachusetts.

CSH is a national nonprofit active in 33 states and we see what is unfolding across the country. Massachusetts is on the cutting edge of efforts to end homelessness.

Groundbreaking investments such as this Pay for Success Initiative are emphasizing accountability while providing the resources to fund the housing and services we know end and prevent homelessness. Beyond the much-needed supportive housing it will create, Massachusetts will continue a transformation in the way services are delivered, away from over-reliance on crisis health and shelters and toward more permanent solutions that provide the stability people need to end their homelessness.

Supportive housing works. So much so that we have witnessed a nearly 50 percent decline in the number of chronically homeless individuals over the past decade as supportive housing has taken hold and proliferated.

Supportive housing is a perfect match to the Pay for Success structure. Since its beginning, supportive housing has relied on data-driven outcomes and has operated under a paradigm of delivering results and savings. In other words, it's a good bet that this Initiative will succeed.

CSH is pleased to invest $500,000 of the combined $2.5 million dollars in private capital in the Massachusetts Chronic Individual Homelessness Pay for Success Initiative, leveraging an additional $1 million in philanthropic support for a total of $3.5 million. This Initiative complements CSH's role as a federally-designated national provider of Pay-for-Success expertise and technical assistance.

Initiatives such as this just don't happen. They require thought-leaders who want to work together to make a difference.

Like any arrangement based on multimillions of dollars, they require hours of painstaking negotiation and patience.

They require the extraordinary leadership and political will that have been exhibited by Governor Deval Patrick and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

They require the experience and gravitas of lead partner, the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, an agency that has the background and know-how to guide us.

They require the commitment of philanthropic and private investors such as the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and Santander because these organizations add the proficiency to serve as fundraising intermediaries and strong financial advisors and managers.

They require the helping hands of the experts at the Harvard Kennedy School Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab who provide pro bono technical assistance to state and local governments implementing Pay for Success, and are assisting Massachusetts in developing the procurement and the data analysis strategy for this Initiative.

And, most importantly, they require a fundamental belief in the promise of supportive housing to bring our most vulnerable neighbors the stability and dignity they long for and deserve.