Community Development Innovation Review

April 2013

Bringing Success to Scale: Pay for Success and Housing Homeless Individuals in Massachusetts


Valentino became homeless after struggles with gambling and alcohol addictions left him with nothing. For more than a decade, Valentino stayed in shelters in the Greater Boston area—or in the hospital. Valentino had three heart attacks while he was homeless, each one worse than the last. He was unable to take care of his health without a stable, safe place to live. Now, Valentino lives in permanent housing through the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) Home & Healthy for Good (HHG) program, which is a partnership between MHSA and its member agencies like Pine Street Inn, where Valentino lives. Access to permanent housing has turned Valentino’s life around. He is no longer plagued by his addictions. “No more gambling, no more drinking,” he says. His health has improved—he is down from taking fourteen prescription pills per day to only five—and his quality of life is better as well. He is able to watch what he eats and treat his heart condition and diabetes properly. Housing has increased Valentino’s opportunities for personal success and decreased his health costs in the process. Unfortunately, many others who, like Valentino, just need a chance to access stable, supportive housing still struggle to survive in shelters or on the streets of Massachusetts. MHSA and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMB) have long sought ways to bring permanent supportive housing to scale in Massachusetts. For this reason, MHSA, in partnership with UWMB and the Corporation for Supportive Housing and with the assistance of Third Sector Capital Partners, is negotiating the first Pay for Success (PFS) contract with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to house frequent users of services for the homeless population.

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Other articles in this issue

Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Banks as Pioneer Investors in Pay for Success Financing

The Real Revolution of Pay for Success: Ending 40 Years of Stagnant Results for Communities

Pay for Success is Not a Panacea

The Promise of Pay for Success

Social Impact Bonds: Lessons Learned So Far

Pay for Success: Understanding the Risk Trade-offs

The Ethics of Pay for Success

Learning from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit: Building a New Social Investment Model

Using Social Impact Bonds to Spur Innovation, Knowledge Building, and Accountability

Social Impact Bonds: Using Impact Investment to Expand Effective Social Programs

Innovation Needs Foundation Support: The Case of Social Impact Bonds

Pay for Success: Opportunities and Risks for Nonprofits

Success Begins with a Feasibility Study

Government’s Role in Pay for Success

Rikers Island: The First Social Impact Bond in the United States

Human Capital Performance Bonds

Pay for Success: Building On 25 Years of Experience with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Can Pay for Success Reduce Asthma Emergencies and Reset a Broken Health Care System?

Supporting At-Risk Youth: A Provider’s Perspective on Pay for Success

Tax Increment Finance: A Success-Driven Tool for Catalyzing Economic Development and Social Transformation

Making Performance-Based Contracting Work for Kids and Families