Skip navigation

Independent Report Shows Continued Success of Denver’s Health and Housing Social Impact Bond Program

Hundreds of formerly homeless people continue to thrive in supportive housing initiative launched by Mayor Hancock

DENVER – More than 250 formerly homeless people housed through Denver’s innovative Health and Housing Social Impact Bond (SIB) Program continue to thrive two years into the initiative, according to a second independent evaluation report by the Urban Institute released today. Due to this continued success, the city will make a second payment to investors of $837,600.

“Our innovative SIB program is proving that when people experiencing long-term homelessness are supported with the stability of housing coupled with the health services they need, they will thrive,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We appreciate the investment our partners are making into our city and our residents, and look forward to watching this important effort continue to transform lives and lift people up.”

VIDEO: Social Impact Bond : Client Stories

Overall, 285 people have been housed through the Denver SIB program, usually within six months of being referred to service providers. According to the report, most participants, 85 percent, remain in housing once they sign their lease. The 44 people who exited the program did so for a variety of reasons, including participant deaths, incarceration for more than 90 days, and lease violations.

“Based on our evaluation, Denver’s program continues to see promising results for housing stability and indicate strong interim outcomes for the program,” said Mary Cunningham, Codirector of the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. "In accordance with the Denver SIB contract, housing stability outcomes were observed for the first 10 quarters of the program, from January 1, 2016, through June 30, 2018, for participants in supportive housing who met the payment requirement.”

Social Impact Bonds are a unique type of performance-based contract where private and/or philanthropic lenders loan funds to accomplish a specific objective and are repaid based on whether the program achieves its goals. The total private investment in the program is nearly $8.7 million, with an additional $15 million in federal resources being leveraged over five years. Repayment to investors is contingent upon the achievement of the program’s outcome targets.

The Denver SIB program, first announced by Mayor Hancock at the Clinton Global Initiative in June 2014 and launched in 2016, is an initiative aimed at measurably improving the lives of people most in need by driving resources towards better, more effective programs. Denver’s SIB program uses funds from lenders to provide housing and supportive case management services to 325 chronically homeless individuals (a number that was originally 250 but expanded in the 2018 budget) who frequently use the city’s emergency services, including police, jail, the courts and emergency rooms.

"The success of the Social Impact Bond Program has been made possible by the strong partnerships within the program and the expertise of the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams which provide the supportive and therapeutic services that are essential to keep people stably housed," said John Parvensky, President/CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.  "The fact that almost 99% of the individuals we've outreached to have accepted housing demonstrates that when appropriate housing resources and services are provided, we can start making real progress towards the solution to homelessness."  

“The Mental Health Center of Denver believes that everyone in Denver should have access to a safe, permanent and affordable home and the supports to live, work, learn and participate fully in their community. The Denver SIB program is making a difference in the lives of the participants by increasing their housing stability and giving them hope for their future.  We are grateful to partner with the City of Denver, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and the philanthropic community to help us achieve our vision and to improve the well-being of our city,” said Carl Clark, MD, president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver.

Through the Social Impact Bond contract, the city agreed to pay $15.12 for each day each qualifying participant was stably housed and not in jail. Qualifying participants are those who spent at least one year in housing or had a planned exit. The report found that 136 people qualified for payment and the program achieved 67,855 total adjusted days in housing. After subtracting for the housing days already paid for the first through sixth quarter, the second year’s outcome calls for a payment of just over $837,600 for these outcomes. The first year’s payment was $188,000.

Beginning in 2019, the Urban Institute will begin evaluating the differences in jail bed days between the control group and treatment group for the Denver SIB randomized control trial aspect of the evaluation. They will also continue to annually calculate housing stability payment outcomes for investors.

Before supportive housing, program participants’ experiences of homelessness and housing instability were closely linked to their criminal justice involvement. The SIB program was designed to reduce their jail stays by providing housing stability and wrap around case management services.

After one year in housing, 44 percent of participants had not returned to jail. The average number of days in jail is lower than that of the target population prior to their referral to the Denver SIB program and if participants do go to jail, it is for less time than before they began participating in the program.

The partners involved in this program include:

  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (Service Provider)
  • Corporation for Supportive Housing (Project Manager)
  • Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Fiscal Agent)
  • Mental Health Center for Denver (Service Provider)
  • Social Impact Solutions (Project Development)
  • Urban Institute with local partners University of Colorado Denver and the Burnes Institute (Independent Evaluators)
  • Colorado Access (Managed Care Organization)

The investors involved in this contract include:

  • The Denver Foundation
  • The Piton Foundation
  • The Ben and Lucy Ana Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation
  • Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund LLC
  • Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • The Colorado Health Foundation
  • The Northern Trust Company
  • Additional Support Provided by:
  • Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab
  • Colorado Division of Housing and Colorado Governor’s Office
  • Colorado Housing Finance Authority
  • Denver Housing Authority
  • Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission

Feasibility Grants: The Piton Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, The Denver Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, and the Rose Community Foundation

Transaction Structuring Grant: Nonprofit Finance Fund and the Social Innovation Fund at the Corporation for National and Community Service

For more information:

2018 Year 2 Health and Housing SIB report

2018 Year 2 Health and Housing SIB Brief

2018 Year 2 Health and Housing SIB Fact sheet

Denver SIB Fact Sheet

Denver SIB Summary