SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business and Pima County, Ariz. today announced a groundbreaking effort to address the causes of homelessness in Pima County. Together, they are preparing to implement a $1.3 million federal "Pay for Success" (PFS) Supportive Housing Demonstration Grant, the first of its kind in Arizona.
Funded by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and facilitated through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the DOJ, the project's primary goal is to enable chronically homeless people to find and maintain stable housing while being able to access wrap-around services. Together, the locally tailored stable housing and services will aim to reduce the burden on the criminal justice and emergency healthcare systems.
A team from the Sorenson Impact Center — Project Director Caroline Ross, Managing Director Jeremy Keele, University of Utah Professor Rob Butters, Ph.D. and Senior Policy Associate Sara Peters — this week traveled to Tucson to seek the expertise of public- and private-sector leaders and frontline service providers. The team is currently wrapping up the preliminary assessment and planning portion of their work, which was funded with a grant from the Kresge Foundation. A final feasibility study and a cost-benefit analysis for the pilot project is expected to be completed around the first of the year.
"All good things come with time," said Margaret Kish, community services director. "It has been two and a half years since Pima County committed to this effort, and our partners from the Sorenson Impact Center have been with us the whole way. Meetings like these show it's a true collaboration."
On September 28 at the Pima County Housing Center, the Sorenson Impact Center staffers led a dialogue with representatives from dozens of social service groups, government departments and health and public safety agencies. The team provided new details and best practices developed by other PFS projects from across the country. The PFS financing model allows government agencies to test or build upon innovative methods for achieving agreed-upon goals, while paying only when positive outcomes are achieved.
Managing Director Keele said, "We're extremely proud to be bringing the first social impact financing project to the state of Arizona. The commitment from all levels of Pima County leadership is remarkable, and their hard work is a testament of their dedication to solving important issues in their community."
The next day, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and other County executives hosted the Sorenson Impact Center staff for further discussion of the gathered data and the possible parameters of the pilot program.
"I've been so pleased to see a culture of sharing data in Pima County," said Professor Butters. "It's way ahead of many other communities. There seems to be a commitment here to improve outcomes through cooperation while still protecting the vulnerability of the people we work with."
The next piece in the planning puzzle will be determining the target population and the types of services that will be provided, something that must balance budgetary constraints while ensuring a sufficient sample size for independent evaluation—an important component in ensuring continued financial and popular support for the program.
There is good reason for optimism about using a permanent supportive housing approach to homelessness. Similar undertakings have had great success in other locations, including current projects in Denver, Colorado and Santa Clara County, California. In addition, for more than a decade, Salt Lake City, Utah, has implemented a permanent supportive housing program, which contributed to a 91 percent reduction in chronic homelessness from 2005 to 2015.
The first step in implementation, early next year, will be identifying non-profit groups with the capacity to meet the program's service provision needs, investors willing to cover the cost of that additional capacity, and third-party evaluators to review the anxiously anticipated results.
About the Sorenson Impact Center The Sorenson Impact Center, housed at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business, is an applied academic institution dedicated to developing innovative and data-driven approaches to difficult social problems, like intergenerational poverty and homelessness. An important focus area for the Center is facilitating PFS initiatives, which direct public and private capital to high-quality programs that measurably improve the health and well-being of at-risk individuals and families in communities across the country.
About the David Eccles School of Business Founded in 1917 and educating more than 6,000 students annually, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business offers eight undergraduate majors, four MBAs, six other specialized graduate programs, a Ph.D. in seven areas and executive education curricula. The School is also home to eight institutes, initiatives and centers that deliver academic research and support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation. The Eccles School is synonymous with 'doing.' The Eccles experience provides a world-class business education with a unique, entrepreneurial focus on real-world scenarios where students put what they learn into practice long before graduation. For more information, visit Eccles.Utah.edu or call 801-581-7676.