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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, February 21, 2020

Sheriff’s office awarded $2.2 million for FUSE




The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has received a $2.2 million federal grant dedicated to helping the mentally ill. The local agency is one of only three communities nationwide to receive this funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Pay for Success Initiative.

The goal of the program is to lower recidivism and homelessness for those suffering mental illness while improving public safety and saving taxpayer dollars.

The sheriff’s office will use the funding to expand its FUSE (Frequent User Systems Engagement) pilot program. The program will serve so-called high utilizers of the justice and health care systems who are mentally ill and homeless.

Participants will receive housing subsidies combined with intensive treatment and services. Results from more than 30 FUSE communities nationwide show sharp declines in incarcerations and hospitalizations along with high rates of housing stability, the sheriff’s office said in a press release.

“People who are mentally ill and homeless sometimes become caught in an endless cycle of costly and avoidable incarcerations,” Sheriff Jim Hammond says. “They are in and out of our jails, emergency rooms, crisis centers, shelters and so on.

“It’s expensive and they only get worse. This is a problem that’s gone on far too long in our community.”

The FUSE pilot is scheduled to launch this summer with commitments from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, CHI Memorial HealthCare System, Hamilton County Government, the City of Chattanooga, Chattanooga Housing Authority, Erlanger Health System, Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute, the State Department of Mental Health’s Creating Homes Initiative and the Peer Advisory Council.

Information: Project director Janna Jahn

Source: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office