Two WellPower Programs Are Going National

Sanderson Apartments’ community kitchen provides residents with opportunities for gathering and social time

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At WellPower, we’re committed to continuously improving the way we serve our community. A core part of this commitment means developing and piloting innovative service models; we’re constantly looking for new and better ways of providing high-quality care to meet people where they are.

Recently, two innovative program models we’ve been piloting over the past few years have been elevated to the national stage – yes, national. They both involve big topics that you’ve almost certainly been hearing a lot about lately: law enforcement and homelessness.

A US Senator’s Community Policing Act

On July 13, 2022, Senator Michael Bennet introduced his SMART Community Policing Act in the United States Senate. The act would open up federal support through the US Department of Justice for the implementation of community policing models across the country, including co-responder and alternative response programs, greater mental health resources and an emphasis on building relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

If this model sounds familiar, it’s because it’s based on Denver’s Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program. STAR sends a mental health professional from WellPower and a paramedic from Denver Health to certain low-acuity emergency calls, with a special emphasis on mental health crises.

Since it began in June 2020, STAR has continued to gain attention due to its overwhelming success – over the past two years, the STAR team has responded to about 4,600 calls, none of which have required police backup. STAR ensures that people in need of help get the right response at the right time, all while resulting in savings to taxpayers through reductions in expensive encounters with law enforcement and the emergency healthcare system. These remarkable outcomes were recently confirmed by a Stanford University study.

You can read more about Senator Bennet’s SMART Community Policing Act here.

The US Treasury Department’s Plan to End Homelessness

The second of these exciting national initiatives is based on Denver’s Social Impact Bond (SIB) program, which supported WellPower’s Sanderson Apartments. Launched in 2017, the SIB program leveraged private investment to fund permanent supportive housing for people with long histories of homelessness. The concept is simple: if getting people into housing and services resulted in cost savings to the city through lower rates of ER, detox and law enforcement involvement, investors would get their original investment back plus interest.

This model works – not only did a comprehensive report on the first five years of the pilot program show considerable cost savings, resulting in the private investors seeing a strong return on their original investment, but it helped people access the support they needed to get back on their feet (if you missed it, you can read about Joseph’s story here).

Now, the success of this program is being expanded through funding from the US Treasury Department’s Social Impact Partnership Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA). As the first city to receive funding through this initiative, Denver will be using Treasury funds and private investment to launch its Denver Housing to Heath (H2H) project. Like the original SIB project, H2H is based on a housing first model, which aims to help people establish safe, stable housing supportive by individualized behavioral health and life skills services. H2H is expected to provide permanent supportive housing for 125 people.

WellPower will be a key partner in this program over the next seven years, providing services to participants using a Modified Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) model. ACT is designed to offer a comprehensive array of supports to help each individual address their unique needs, including intensive case management, housing stability supports, crisis intervention, substance use counseling, mental health treatment, peer support and more.

You can read more about WellPower’s Sanderson Apartments here.