Mayor Hancock Launches Supportive Housing Program

On July 1, Mayor Michael B. Hancock joined with officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, homelessness response and mental health service providers, and funders to launch the Denver Housing to Health (H2H) program, a new pay-for-success initiative. The H2H program will leverage local housing resources, $11.75 million from six private funders, and up to $5.5 million in the form of a Social Impact Partnership Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA) grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to deliver permanent supportive housing to at least 125 people experiencing chronic homelessness and suffering from frequent mental and behavioral health crises requiring emergency care.

Project goals include housing stability, a reduction in the number of jail days, and reduction in emergency federal health care expenditures. The project will use pay for success financing which connects payment with successful outcomes.

“Denver’s Social Impact Bond program proved we can break the cycle from streets to emergency rooms, to jails and back to the streets for our residents facing chronic homelessness, and we’re going to expand those efforts,” Mayor Hancock said. “Our community is incredibly fortunate to have such strong partnerships among funders, providers and other government organizations. This is a proven strategy of providing housing first with the right supports in place for people to exit homelessness, remain housed and prosper. Together, we’re making this innovation possible.”

The H2H program draws on the experience of several partners of the recent Denver SIB initiative, while bringing in new funds awarded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury under the Social Impact Partnership to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA). Denver was awarded a SIPPRA project grant of up to $5,512,000, to be received if the program demonstrates a reduction in net federal healthcare expenditures. The program aims to improve health outcomes and reduce Medicaid costs by improving access to primary and preventative healthcare services and supports in order to reduce avoidable high-cost healthcare services.

SIPPRA project grant funds will be used by the City and County of Denver to re-pay private investors if the program achieves a net reduction in federal Medicaid/Medicare expenditures among individuals housed through the H2H program. Based on the levels of housing stability and reduction in jail days achieved, the city will re-pay the project investors.

Eligible participants are individuals experiencing homelessness who are age 18 years and older with a record of at least eight arrests over the past three years in Denver County. Participants must also be at high risk for avoidable high-cost healthcare services paid through Medicaid, including utilization of healthcare services at Denver Health.

“As an anchor institution, Denver Health is committed to addressing the health-related social needs of our patients and our community through partnerships. Housing is one of the most dire needs in our community, especially for many of the patients we serve. We are excited to partner on SIPPRA to make a real impact of the overall health of these participants,” said Dr. Sarah Stella, Denver Health and Hospital Authority Internal Medical Hospitalist.

Participants will be offered supportive housing units provided by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and WellPower (formerly the Mental Health Center of Denver). Denver Health will serve as a referral source, identifying eligible participants who have had two or more emergency department visits in the previous one year. Participants will have access to a range of wraparound supportive services from social workers and clinicians including counseling, substance use treatment, psychiatric care, and medical care.

“We know from the SIB research and our own experience that housing with supportive services is not only the solution to chronic homelessness individuals, but it is also less expensive and healthier to house someone than to leave them to languish in costly emergency systems like jails and emergency rooms,” says John Parvensky, president/CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “This Housing to Health SIPPRA program gives us another opportunity to expand the work of the SIB to further provide the housing and services needed to improve lives, build stronger communities, and more effectively spend tax-payer dollars.”


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