In 2012, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) leadership was researching effective jail diversion models that would reduce recidivism and save public dollars, and discovered CSH’s Frequent User Systems Engagement, or FUSE, model. One year later, the county is halfway through housing FUSE tenants, and has become a model of effective use of the FUSE Blueprint  as a framework for program planning and implementation.

The Mecklenburg County FUSE initiative – MeckFUSE – is an interagency effort providing 45 new units of supportive housing to individuals that cycle between the criminal justice and homeless shelter systems in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, home of the City of Charlotte.

CSH's Role

CSH was engaged as a consultant by the county to provide technical assistance during the FUSE planning process. CSH provided support in such areas as determining the approach and methodology of the data match; guiding the county through determining a housing application process based on examples from other communities; peer to peer learning from other communities with FUSE programs; assistance with development of an RFP for an experienced service provider; program implementation support; assistance with the evaluation plan; and service provider training support.

Mecklenburg County CSS engaged an interdisciplinary stakeholder group early on to help plan the initiative. Partners signed a “memorandum of agreement” dedicating staff time to the planning process. All decision points were vetted by the stakeholder group.

Target Population
MeckFUSE uses a data-driven approach to identifying FUSE tenants. A data match between the local Homeless Management and Information System (HMIS) and the county jail identified a small subset of individuals who were repeatedly cycling between shelter and jail. The contracted service provider, Urban Ministry Center, uses the resultant list to perform in-reach to the jail and local shelters, as well as to those living on the street. An assessment of potentially eligible people helps identify whether they have a behavioral health condition, another eligibility requirement. Once eligible, tenants are quickly housed in one of a number of units UMC has worked with local landlords to secure.

Housing & Services
All housing and services are paid for through County diversion funds. The chosen service provider, Urban Ministry Center, is a leader in the community in using a Housing First approach. Wrap around support services are provided to tenants, who are not required to accept services as a condition of tenancy. The case manager to client ratio is 1:15, and staff have a variety of experience working with individuals who have had extensive contact with the criminal justice system.

Next Steps

Mecklenburg County has engaged a researcher at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to evaluate the MeckFUSE program. The goal of the evaluation will be to determine whether MeckFUSE is reaching long term goals of reducing criminal recidivism and homelessness and achieving cost effectiveness.


Mecklenburg County Criminal Justice Services

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services

Urban Ministry Center

Salvation Army Women’s Shelter

Men’s Shelter of Charlotte

Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office

Provided Services Organization

Charlotte Housing Authority

MeckLink Behavioral Healthcare

Public Defender’s Office

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont

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