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May 13, 2014 > Santa Clara County requests proposals to address chronic homelessness

Santa Clara County requests proposals to address chronic homelessness

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson

The County of Santa Clara released a Request for Proposals (ÒRFPÓ), on April 21, to identify the organization that will lead a pioneering effort to provide housing and supportive services to some of the neediest homeless individuals in the County. Unlike traditional social service programs, this effort will employ a ÒPay for SuccessÓ model under which the County pays for services if and when they deliver results Ð in this case the stability and wellness of homeless clients. This multimillion-dollar Pay for Success initiative is the very first of its kind in California, and puts the County on the cutting edge of a national movement towards performance-based contracting for social services.

ÒThe release of this RFP is a major milestone in our effort to direct County resources to programs that will deliver demonstrably better outcomes for the chronically homeless,Ó said Gary Graves, the CountyÕs Chief Operating Officer. ÒIt is our responsibility as a community to pursue new models that can help meet our most pressing social needs.Ó

Pay For Success contracts, sometimes called Social Impact Bonds, bring together nonprofit expertise in addressing social issues, private sector funding, and rigorous evaluation to transform the way governments respond to chronic social problems such as homelessness. In a Pay for Success project, private funders assume financial risk by initially paying the providers to deliver services. Taxpayers may eventually pay for the program in the form of government Òsuccess paymentsÓ only if and when a third party evaluator determines that the initiative has achieved the desired outcomes.

This Project focuses on the chronically homelessness population in the County, a group that is defined not only by long periods living on the street, but also by serious mental illness or physical disability. On any given night, 7,631 people are homeless in the county, of whom 2,509 can be classified as chronically homeless. This project will provide chronically homeless individuals with a combination of affordable housing and an array of supportive services, a combination that has been shown to significantly improve quality of life and to reduce reliance on very costly government-funded services such as emergency room care.

ÒThis innovative effort brings together two key goals for the County Ð addressing homelessness, and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent on highly efficient and effective programs,Ó said County Board of Supervisors President Mike Wasserman. ÒThe businesses and nonprofits in our county are leaders in innovation.Ó

Through this RFP, the County plans to identify a lead agency to lead, shape, and manage the project.

Proposals responding to the RFP are due on June 20. The full RFP, is available through BidSync at which is the CountyÕs online procurement service.

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