Pilot program launched to combat homelessness in R.I.

A new pilot program recently launched by the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness will help combine supportive housing and wraparound supportive services to reduce persistent homelessness in Rhode Island. Crossroads Rhode Island is one homelessness support nonprofit aiding in the initiative. / COURTESY CROSSROADS RHODE ISLAND
A new pilot program recently launched by the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness will help combine supportive housing and wraparound supportive services to reduce persistent homelessness in Rhode Island. Crossroads Rhode Island is one homelessness support nonprofit aiding in the initiative. / COURTESY CROSSROADS RHODE ISLAND

PROVIDENCE – A new pilot program involving multiple local nonprofit organizations, a state health office and consulting firms that combines supportive housing and wraparound supportive services to reduce persistent homelessness in Rhode Island has been launched.

The “Pay for Success” project, led by the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness, launched the project with funding from the Rhode Island Foundation and Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Maycomb Capital, evaluation from the Faulkner Consulting Group and technical assistance from Social Finance, according to the foundation.

The Rhode Island Foundation provided a $307,500 grant to finance the project, foundation spokesperson Chris Barnett confirmed Wednesday to Providence Business News. Barnett also said Maycomb Capital has committed to funding 80% of the program as its lead investor during the program’s five-year period. Maycomb Capital, Barnett says, declined to say how much it is funding the program, citing that it is proprietary information.

The foundation says the Pay for Success program will focus on individuals with complex behavioral health and medical needs who are persistently homeless, frequently use emergency medical services and cycle through shelters and the criminal justice system. This program, the foundation says, differs from other initiatives that seek to quickly rehouse homeless individuals who need minimal assistance.

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Pay for Success, the foundation says, will instead refocus resources for eligible Rhode Islanders on an intervention called “permanent supportive housing,” which includes medical and behavioral health care, job training and intensive case management. Barnett told PBN that when people have a stable place to live, delivering supportive services that can help them turn their lives around can be so more efficient and effective.

“Even something as simple as staying healthy is easier when you have a roof instead of a highway overpass over your head at night,” Barnett said. “There’s another benefit, too. Helping people who are the most frequent users of public resources get back on their feet also reduces their impact on the state’s health care, criminal justice and social services systems.”

Four local nonprofits – Open Doors, Crossroads Rhode Island, House for Hope and the East Bay Community Action Program – have begun enrolling eligible individuals into the program, the foundation said. Those organizations will work to stabilize between 175 and 200 people currently using a disproportionate amount of Medicaid, R.I. Department of Corrections, emergency room and homelessness services resources.

The foundation also says this initiative is the first project in the state to use a Pay for Success financial mechanism, which the nonprofit funder says requires the project to achieve successful outcomes to unlock financing from the state government. Increases in housing stabilization, reduction in emergency room utilization and reduced interaction with the correctional system are the measurements that will trigger a release of state funding from RIEOHHS, the foundation says.

“Housing and health care go hand in hand. Having a stable place to live enables the efficient and effective delivery of care and services that can turn lives around,” foundation CEO and President David N. Cicilline said in a statement.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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