The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 67 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate to substantial risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the development and operations of Safe Havens for chronic street homeless adults and/or adult couples, without minor children. “Utilizing a ‘housing first’ approach, this resource is provided to the chronically street homeless individual who has historically not accepted other placement options.”
The goal of this RFP is to provide chronic street homeless adults, referred by street and subway outreach teams, a safe place to sleep and various onsite services that will improve the client’s standard of living and obtain more permanent housing. “Safe Havens will be flexible in working with the variety of behaviors and situations a chronically street homeless client may present. Some of these may include, but not be limited to: hoarding; lack of personal hygiene; self-isolation; serious mental illness; substance use disorders, including alcohol and opioid dependence, and injection drug use; and, medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cellulitis, poor dentition, infestation with lice or other parasites or ailments of the feet that needs to be addressed.”
The New York City Department of Homeless Services (“DHS”) is the contracting agency, and this is an open-ended solicitation. Proposals submitted will be reviewed by DHS on an ongoing basis.
“DHS anticipates funding Safe Havens at an overall per client per night cost of $110 or less. DHS prefers a Safe Haven with a rent per diem of less than $35 per client per night and a non-rent per diem (inclusive of all PS and OTPS costs) of $75 or less per client per night. Preference may be given to providers who bring buildings with lower rents.” With this rate, providers must provide full onsite medical services, nutritious meals in compliance with NYC Food Guidelines, and a community advisory board. At $110 per client or less, applicants are unlikely to be able to meet the program deliverables without subsidizing the contract substantially with other revenue given the high cost of rent in New York City.
This RFP states that “DHS also reserves the right to incorporate additional services into the Safe Haven, including but not limited to an increase in program size, reduction of the per diem rate, or the imposition of financial disincentives if a program fails to meet program targets set by the DHS.” This is a risk for applicants because they need to ensure that they have enough resources to sustain the program in case DHS decreases funding at any time or increases the program size during the contract.
Lack of Cost Escalators
This RFP is a five-year contract with one four-year renewal option meaning providers could potentially receive the same rate for nine years. Nonprofits struggle to meet rising costs as rates on contracts are not increased from year to year to address an increase in the costs of delivering services. With the current underfunding of homeless services programs, it is crucial that DHS include cost escalators in their contracts.
Potential Risks for New Proposers
The RFP is vague in providing enough information for new contractors to make an informed decision about proposing to develop and implement Safe Havens. There are many additional variables that proposers should consider, before submitting a proposal. For instance, “Programs must be able to accept clients within two months of the contract start date.” Unless you have the resources to not only procure an appropriate building while meeting Department of Buildings requirements, but also building out the specific space you need, including outdoor space for pets, and acquiring all necessary staff, it is impossible to start the program on time. It takes an enormous amount of time to find, secure, and negotiate the property, particularly at the rates provided. In addition to the facility requirements, a “system for recording and tracking all maintenance and repair functions” is required and will likely call for an additional investment. Potential bidders should be prepared to both manage the operations and budget of Safe Havens at a very lean rate while also having the expertise, capacity and resources to work with a variety of behaviors and issues that chronically homeless individuals may experience.
Similarly, because this is an open-ended RFP and DHS reserves the right to discard proposals to ensure geographic distribution or funding availability, new contractors should be aware that they may be eliminated due to factors beyond their control. Proposers should also consider the requirement to notify the community of building a potential shelter and the need for DHS site approval before opening shelters, which could delay the reward of a contract. It would be helpful if there was more transparency in the number of units developed and accounted for so that nonprofits are cognizant of any funding that is left through this RFP and can make a more informed decision about the likelihood that funding might be available should they decide to submit a bid.
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 0 percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100 percent 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 is not a substitute for the due diligence necessary to inform individual organization decisions.