‘Pay for Success’ aims to measure, improve social services in Salt Lake County (KUTV)

By Jeremy Harris

(KUTV) Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says it’s “anyone’s guess” if many of the social welfare programs that cost Salt Lake County residents millions of dollars each year are actually working.

McAdams said he is confident the government can do better. Monday, McAdams announced two new ‘Pay for Success’ initiatives which aim to measure and improve the success of homeless outreach and criminal justice programs.

“This is about improving outcomes for people who are in need and also about ensuring value for taxpayers, not only because if the programs don’t measure up, we don’t pay, but because it encourages investments in prevention. Just as vaccines are cheaper than treating disease; housing and job training costs less than jail,” McAdams said.

The new initiatives will offer payments to two social service organizations for successful outcomes.

The first initiative, ‘Homes Not Jail’, targets The Road Home which helps people struggling with homelessness.

‘Homes Not Jail’ will provide funding to offer housing assistance and support services to 315 individuals over four years. Those support services will include rental assistance, behavioral health treatment, and employment counseling.

“Our team at the Road Home is delighted to be a partner in this collaboration. Through Pay for Success, our agency will help 80 people annually move out of our shelters and into housing. The tenants will also receive additional services from which they would not otherwise benefit. The rigorous research that will accompany this collaboration will be particularly helpful to this collaboration,” Road Home Executive Director Matt Minkovitch said.

The second ‘Pay for Success’ program, known as REACH (Recovery, Engagement, Assessment, Career, and Housing) will be managed by First Step House, a treatment center for men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

First Step House has worked with ‘Pay for Success’ since 2015 when it signed on with the county to receive incentive-based payments for successful cases.

In 2015, First Step House estimated the county could save more than $20,000 a year by putting an offender in to treatment rather than serving time in the county jail.

McAdams said REACH will fund First Step House to serve approximately 225 formerly incarcerated men who are at high risk for returning to jail. The funds will help First Step to provide treatment, housing, and case management services to help offenders stay out of jail and assimilate into society.

McAdams emphasized that under ‘Pay for Success’, the county only doles out money when a social program is working.

The funds for ‘Pay for Success’ will come from Salt Lake County and private donors including, James L. Sorenson, the Gail and Larry H. Miller Foundation, the Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Dore’ Eccles Foundation, Living Cities, Synchrony Bank and Zions Bank, in addition to Northern Trust, QBE Insurance Group Limited, Ally Bank and The Reinvestment Fund. McAdams also thanked Sorenson Impact Center for project management, the Community Foundation of Utah for serving as the financial and legal intermediary for both PFS projects and Dorsey & Whitney, Utah for legal assistance.