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Homelessness , Reports and Publications

Breaking the Jail to Homelessness Cycle

14 May 2019
Urban Institute

In March, Urban Institute published an interactive report titled “Starting with Stability: How Denver Is Breaking the Homelessness-Jail Cycle,” which explores the Social Impact Bond (SIB) program. The SIB program is an effort of the City of Denver, Colorado, who partnered with a local firm, Social Impact Solutions, several investors, and the Urban Institute to design a randomized controlled trial to measure participant’s housing stability and how long they spent in jail against folks who receive services regularly in their communities. The SIB program was launched in 2016 and is set to run through 2021, after which all program results will be reported.

The SIB program uses a “a pay for success” model, where a government agency commits funds to pay for a specific outcome that is achieved within a given timeframe. The researchers note that a “pay for success” model may not be the best approach for all communities, however the focus on data, outcomes, and collaborative impact are critical to addressing complex social problems.

Sindhu Lakshmanan (one of the SIB investors) referred to the pay for success model as “taking [the] principles we’ve learned and integrating them into all that we do so we see a broader systems change of paying for results and outcomes across the board.”

As of July 2018, two and a half years into the SIB program, out of the 285 participants, 85% remained housed without exiting the program. In the first year, 44% avoided a return to the Criminal Justice System, a percentage lower than the average for the chronically homeless population in Denver.

For more information on the Social Impact Bond, click here.