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A program to house chronically homeless individuals with behavioral health concerns and a history of frequent jail time just received a regional award.

MeckFUSE is the program, and Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) is the department that has partnered with Urban Ministry Center (UMC) to make it happen.

On March 27 and 28, representatives from the County and Urban Ministry Center presented a workshop about the MeckFUSE program at the Corporation for Supportive Housing Eastern Region Supportive Housing Conference in Philadelphia. The MeckFUSE program received the Project of the Year – Scattered Site award during the March 27 to 28, 2014 conference.

Stacy Lowry, department director for CSS, and Caroline Chambre, director of HousingWorks for UMC, spent an hour and a half sharing the story of how MeckFUSE came about. Since it began operating, the program has placed 28 clients in housing. The goal is to place 45. Local County tax dollars support the effort in the amount of about $900,000.

The FUSE in MeckFUSE stands for Frequent User System Engagement. The FUSE model aims to end the cycle of incarceration and homelessness among individuals with behavioral health challenges who are the highest users of jails, homeless shelters and other crisis service systems.

In describing why MeckFUSE received the award, CSH conference officials said the program is being recognized “for an exceptional and efficient design and implementation.”

CSH is national organization committed to supportive housing as a means to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in communities. Community Support Services contracted with CSH for technical assistance to create MeckFUSE.