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September 2, 2014 > Santa Clara County to engage Abode Services

Santa Clara County to engage Abode Services

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell/ Laurel Anderson

On August 26, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved the selection of Abode Services, one of the Bay AreaÕs largest and most effective providers of housing services, as the lead service provider for an innovative project to address chronic homelessness. Through this new program, some of the most vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness in the county will be provided with housing and supportive services. Unlike traditional government-funded programs, however, this effort will employ a ÒPay for SuccessÓ model under which the County pays for services if and when Abode delivers results Ð in this case, the stability and wellness of homeless clients.

The project is the CountyÕs first Pay for Success initiative. As the lead service provider, Abode Services will receive funding from philanthropic and/or commercial lenders to pay for the up-front cost of service delivery. When Abode delivers successful outcomes set forth in its agreement with the County, the investors will recover their capital with moderate interest, or can reinvest it in the program. If Abode Services does not deliver those outcomes, the investors, rather than taxpayers, will bear the costs.

A key goal of the Pay for Success model is to encourage partners in government programs to focus on outcomes Ð such as housing stability and wellness Ð rather than units of service, as with more traditional funding structures. The Pay for Success model is intended to increase successful outcomes, enhance service providersÕ ability to measure that success, improve knowledge of what approaches to social problems work, and create roadmaps for other communities to follow.

The County and Abode Services will now begin a multi-month deal construction process to finalize the parameters of the Pay for Success project, including the selection of target outcomes, an evaluation plan, and the engagement of private investors.

The chronic homelessness in Santa Clara County is defined as a group not only living on the street for long periods, but also having co-occurring serious mental health concerns or physical disabilities. On any given night, 2,509 individuals are chronically homeless in the county. This project will provide affordable housing and an array of supportive services, a combination that has been shown to significantly improve quality of life among vulnerable individuals who are chronically homeless, and to reduce reliance on very costly government-funded services, such as emergency room care. The County is also pursuing a second Pay for Success initiative that will target the most frequent and costly users of the CountyÕs in-patient psychiatric facilities.

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