New program for homeless saves taxpayer money

Officials say the solution costs less than the problem.

Posted: Feb 20, 2018 6:53 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 6:46 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Lane County Health and Human Services started a new program to help homeless people in the community. 

With the FUSE program, they can identify homeless people who are high impact users. These are people who are constantly in and out of hospitals, prisons, the court system and are using other public services. 

Then, the County can provide support and help them find long-term housing. Lane County partnered with Trillium Health and other community organizations.

Individuals in the program can live anywhere housing is available, with leases ranging anywhere from a few months to a few years.  Through the program, individuals who may not have the resources can get access to identification and tools to help them be successful. 

Danielle Bautista, the FUSE program coordinator, said they recently helped a small group of people in a recent pilot program. 

"The solution cost less than the problem," Bautista said. 

Every year, the county spends $35,885 on the average high impact user. The initial cost of the program is $14,735 per person, every year. County officials expect that cost to go down as the program continues. 

Overall, officials estimate it could save taxpayers $25,000 per person involved in the program. Long-term, that could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. They say that's money they could use to spend on other things in the community, like infrastructure and economic development. 

"At least equally as important is the win it is for people who pay the bills," Karen Gaffney, Director of Lane County Health and Human Services, said. "It's a tremendous cost savings and quality of life improvement."

Gaffney and Bautista said this program is not just a temporary fix, but a long-term solution that can actually help solve the problem. 

Trillium Health is currently working with the county on this project. The company recently announced they will provide additional funding to the program. 

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