03/22/2016

Spreading the Power of FUSE

CSH convened a special peer-to-peer site visit earlier this month in Charlotte, North Carolina, that brought together a group from Iowa City, Iowa, and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to explore the structure and success of MeckFUSE, a housing program for homeless men and women with behavioral health issues who have been frequent users of Mecklenburg’s jail, street camps and shelters. FUSE stands for Frequent User Systems Engagement, a proven national supportive housing model from CSH.

This peer-to-peer was designed to assist Iowa City as it continues to build the foundation for its own FUSE initiative as a CSH start-up grantee. CSH is able to expand FUSE throughout the country due, in part, to generous support from the Open Society Foundations and Capital One. Both funders also help underwrite our new and free FUSE Resource Center.

While diving deeper into FUSE, participants in this peer-to-peer learning experience visited a single site supportive housing apartment building that houses the once chronically homeless.

The apartments, Moore Place, are provided as a HousingWorks supportive housing program of the Urban Ministry Center. Through the HousingWorks program, the Urban Ministry Center seeks to fulfill its mission of ending homelessness by giving the most vulnerable what they so desperately need: a home.

HousingWorks has three pathways to housing for chronically homeless individuals: Moore Place, an 85-unit apartment building that opened in February 2012; Scattered Site apartments (45 units); and, in MeckFUSE, a partnership with Mecklenburg County providing an additional 45 community-based apartments.

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. A team of social workers, therapists, a full-time nurse and a part-time psychiatrist provide supportive services to help each HousingWorks tenant manage the transition from long-term homelessness to housing, and to help individuals meet personal goals to ensure they never become homeless again.

HousingWorks specifically targets those individuals who have been homeless the longest, are the most vulnerable and are the most frequent users of emergency rooms, jails, shelters and other costly crisis services.

In addition to seeing Moore Place and how it transforms lives, the group from Iowa City spent two days:

  • Increasing their understanding of the core components and day-to-day operations of a FUSE program;
  • Discussing strategies for building community support for new developments and ways to maintain on-going community engagement/support of FUSE programs;
  • Better understanding MeckFUSE financing for operations, rental assistance and supportive services;
  • Learning the development process, funding sources, roles of partners and design considerations for FUSE tenants; and
  • Understanding the needs of FUSE tenants when they move into housing: service needs, apartment preferences, amenities, move-in needs and types of housing support.

To learn more about CSH FUSE, please click here.

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