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


Joe Finn, Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance and Jeff Hayward, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

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Volume 9, Issue 1 | April 18, 2013

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.