For three years, Monica Hyatt lived in “the jungle,” an infamous 68-acre homeless encampment along Coyote Creek in San Jose. Garbage and river rats surrounded her small tent. She saw someone get killed. Her diabetes worsened. She drank eight to 10 bottles of malt liquor a day to “stay numb.”
Eight months later, Hyatt lives in a modest one-bedroom apartment. She runs into friends from “the jungle,” but won’t give them her address. Her diabetes is under control, and she rarely drinks.
There are about 6,500 homeless people in Santa Clara County on any given night. About one-third are classified as “chronically homeless,” like Hyatt was. Too often, they shuffle between the streets, emergency rooms and jails. Their problems frequently worsen, and the costs add up. The county spent $3 billion on homeless services from 2007 to 2012; 5 percent of the homeless accounted for almost half the spending – an average of more than $100,000 a year.
Gary Graves, the county’s chief operating officer, wanted its programs to measurably improve the lives of the homeless and become more accountable. So it’s no surprise the county is the first in California to embark on a bold new social experiment to help the chronically homeless. Called “Pay for Success,” it is designed to drive government spending toward programs that work best for people who need them most. Click here to continue reading the piece in its entirety at SacBee.com
Click here to read more about the Pay for Success program.