FREQUENT USER SYSTEMS ENGAGEMENT:
A specific sub-group of chronically homeless individuals who are the most frequent users of high cost services at public expense.
It's not easy living on the streets.
Finding a safe place to sleep is often considered trespassing. It's nearly impossible to manage a chronic illness when your first priority is survival. There is no protection from Iowa's drastic winter and summer seasons.
Is it any wonder that people without a roof over their head frequently use emergency and other high cost services?
Frequent users are a small fraction (4-5%) of the overall population that experiences homelessness, but their complex behavioral and social problems make it difficult for them to succeed in traditional services.
Crisis driven care
In most communities, including Johnson County, "frequent users" continuously cycle through a variety of emergency interventions of various sorts (legal, medical, psychiatric, detoxification...). This cycle comes at great expense to the community with no lasting improvement to the individual.
A growing number of communities have implemented the FUSE model by providing housing to a targeted “frequent user” population, with integrated health and social services. For these individuals, our community needs a targeted approach to overcome their more complex barriers.
Our solution combines:
1. Permanent supportive housing
Housing First: Permanent. Unconditional. Affordable.
Our program isn't transitional--residents can live there for as long as they wish to.
FUSE – Housing First does not place conditions of housing on the behavior of participants, but instead provides subsidized housing with the ongoing option to participate in supportive services.
Our supportive services exist to ensure residents of FUSE - Housing First get the care they need, improve their quality of life, and to prevent any returns to homelessness.
Residents will primarily work with a housing case manager who assists with independent living skills, connects them with outside resources, and works with residents to ensure they uphold requirements of the lease. Additional onsite support will include regular check-ins with a medical professional, mental health counselor, and psychiatrist.
2. Data driven problem solving
Data from FUSE projects across the country consistently demonstrate that this model both enhances the quality of life of the individuals and reduces the financial costs to the community.
Though programs vary widely, there is resounding evidence that the cost of housing and services is far below the cost of NOT housing frequent users. Some communities have seen reductions of public expense exceeding $100,000 per participant per year.
Our FUSE - Housing First development team has gathered information from 20 local agencies to demonstrate the un-reimbursed costs of frequent users in Johnson County. Read our blog post for information about our recently completed case study.
3. Cross system collaboration
Through the Johnson County LHCB, a collaborative team of 12 agencies has formed to develop the FUSE - Housing First project. With cooperation across the system of care, we can establish a program that truly addresses this population's needs and builds support across the community.
Together, we have created a case study on four frequent users in Johnson County and developed the service model for our project.
The next phase of FUSE - Housing First is funding and housing development. The committee is pursuing funding options for a 12 – 15+ unit housing project with single occupancy units for eligible frequent users.