The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 42 percent.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the provision of integrated supportive housing for people who are homeless and living with one or more disabling conditions or other life challenges. The RFP fills a critical need by linking capital projects with the service and operating funding necessary to serve a population with more complex needs. Applicants are required to seek capital funding separately, such as via the New York State Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation (“HHAC”), the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (“HTFC”), or the NYS Housing Finance Agency (“HFA”).
This RFP is the third year of the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (“ESSHI”)—the Governor’s five-year plan to create 6,000 supportive housing units, as part of the longer-term commitment to create 20,000 supportive housing units over 15 years. Through this multi-agency solicitation, the State will provide $30 million in service and operating funding for 1,200 units of supportive housing across the State. The Office of Mental Health (OMH) is the lead procurement agency for this opportunity.
The ESSHI RFP has a lower level of risk than the other RFPs that HSC has rated to date.
Filling Two Critical Needs
New York is currently facing a homelessness crisis, with more than 85,000 homeless people across the State and more than 60,000 homeless people in New York City alone. ESSHI is a long-term investment aimed at addressing the current crisis and ensuring that New Yorkers—including those with complex needs—remain stably housed. HSC commends the State for this forward-looking, multi-agency initiative.
Not only will this procurement serve the needs of a population that can be especially difficult to serve, but, as explained above, it will link capital projects with service funding. Providers cannot obtain funding for housing services in the absence of a physical residence, but it can be difficult and risky to obtain capital funding without being certain of service funding. The conditional nature of ESSHI awards enables providers to seek both kinds of funding with little risk. Because awards are conditioned on the receipt of capital funding, there is no risk of receiving one type of funding without the other. The provider’s only loss would be the time and money spent applying for funds. Accordingly, the requirement that providers seek capital funding separately should not be viewed in a negative light.
Integrating Health and Human Services
HSC also commends the State for recognizing the role of stable housing in improving health outcomes. This RFP requires that providers set aside 25 percent of designated ESSHI units for high-cost, high-need Medicaid users. As the State moves towards a value-based health care system, it will need to integrate not only services but also case management and funding sources. While much work remains, the express set-aside of ESSHI units for Medicaid recipients is a good first step towards the silo-breaking needed to achieve the aims of Medicaid redesign. We will follow the implementation of this integration and its impact.
Prohibiting the Use of Section 8 Funding
In the first iteration of ESSHI, rent and services were funded separately, and providers could accept Section 8 housing vouchers and still receive a full award. In contrast, the current RFP does not separate rent and services, and it prohibits ESSHI awardees from accessing Section 8 dollars. This means that in future years, as operating costs increase and take up a greater proportion of overall funding, providers might have less money for services, as we have seen with the New York/New York III initiative. While the RFP does contemplate “providing an inflationary adjustment in subsequent years, subject to available appropriations for and/or statutory authorization,” it is unclear how such adjustment will be administered.
Other Positive Points
There are several technical features of the ESSHI procurement that HSC believes are helpful to providers: a glossary that succinctly explains key terms, screenshots from the Grants Gateway, and the option of a debriefing for applicants that do not receive awards. All of the RFP documents and the bidders’ webinar slides can be accessed in one place: https://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/rfp/2018/esshi/. We encourage OMH to make all of the documents and slides available in the Grants Gateway.
 Truth Commission on Poverty in New York State – https://nytruthcommission.org/statistics/
 The Coalition for the Homeless – http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/basic-facts-about-homelessness-new-york-city/
The HSC RFP Rater assesses the feasibility, opportunities, and risk in City and State human services procurements. Rater scores are based on the RFP and related documents available to the public via New York City’s HHS Accelerator or New York State’s Grants Gateway. The rater consists of 60 questions developed and tested by a team of procurement professionals. The questions are based on information that is necessary to help prospective proposers assess risk.
Each answer is weighted based on the degree of risk inherent in the subject of the question. Answers that imply low to moderate risk are allotted points on a lower scale range compared to higher risk questions. For compound questions, the answer to both parts must be “yes” or “not applicable” to be considered low risk. Scores are calculated by adding all the question scores together. The higher the score, the greater the risk. The scoring range is from 60 to 230, with zero percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100% equal to 230 points. Users can view the answer to each question by clicking the down arrow next to each section to expand the section.
The HSC RFP Rater does not substitute for the due diligence necessary to inform individual organization decisions.