Through our HousingWorks program, the Urban Ministry Center seeks to fulfill its mission of ending homelessness by giving this community a vision of what is possible, and by giving the most vulnerable what they so desperately need: a home. HousingWorks has three pathways to housing for chronically homeless individuals: at Moore Place, an 85-unit apartment building that opened in February 2012, in Scattered Site apartments (45 units), and in MeckFUSE, a partnership with Mecklenburg County providing an additional 45 apartments. Several cities in the United States have already utilized the FUSE (Frequent Users Systems Engagement) model, which targets individuals experiencing homelessness and are the most frequent users of emergency rooms, jails, shelters, and other costly crisis services.
The HousingWorks approach is simple: give chronically homeless individuals what they need most – a safe, stable, affordable home – and then provide the wrap-around support to help them remain housed and regain lives of wellness and dignity.
In February 2010, the Urban Ministry Center – in partnership with a dozen local agencies and over 110 community volunteers – conducted a Vulnerability Index to identify the chronically homeless. The results were staggering. 807 individuals were counted. These people have been homeless for more than a year, or at least four times in the past three years, and also are living with a disability. 388 of these individuals had at least one vulnerability factor which places them at higher risk for dying.
Over the years we have come to know this population well. They cycle in and out of jail cells, hospital rooms, emergency rooms and shelters. Despite the fact that they consume 50 percent of community resources, their outcomes are rarely good.
Housing First: A Solution
We have come to know that while the needs are complex, there is a solution to chronic homelessness. It is a philosophy called Housing First, which recognizes a fundamental right to housing, no matter what a person’s mental health condition or physical disability or addiction may be. The idea is get people into housing first, and then work on the issues that need attention in order to help the person stay housed. It makes sense – who among us could tackle sobriety while sleeping under a bridge? It makes economic sense too – research has proven that the cost of permanent housing and services is far less than the current cycle of jails, ERs, and shelter beds.
· One ER visit: $1,029
· One night in jail: $110
· One day in hospital: $2,165
· HousingWorks apartment: $38.31
Stated another way, the average annual community cost of a chronically homeless person is more than $39,000 per year in shelter, hospital, ER and jail costs – all of which serve only as stop-gap measures. Through HousingWorks, we can provide stable housing and case management to this same individual for $13,983 annually and have positive outcomes in health, sobriety and stabilization. In short, HousingWorks saves lives and saves our community money. See how the community benefits in our Community Impact of Moore Place Report.
Who is Eligible for HousingWorks: