The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office announced it has received a second federal grant to serve homeless adults with severe and persistent mental illness who are high utilizers of the Hamilton County Jail, local hospitals, emergency rooms, crisis centers, and psychiatric facilities. This grant was received in March, but due to COVID-19 events, the formal announcement was postponed until now.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity for our community to help those in our community receive the care they need in order to keep those with mental health issues off the streets and out of our jail and hospitals," said Sheriff Jim Hammond.
"Earlier this year, we announced our $2.2 million award from the Department of Justice, which has been accepted by the Hamilton County Commission. These federal resources will be added to nearly a million dollars that has already been contributed by the local community and our partners to make the greatest possible impact.
The 3.39 million-dollar award is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for the Sheriff's Office FUSE (Frequent User Systems Engagement) pilot program. The award provides $678,000 each year for five years. Eligible participants will receive mental health treatment combined with permanent supportive housing.
"This is an opportune moment to move the needle on justice and mental health as we are able to expand the two-year pilot program to five years," said Janna Jahn, FUSE Project Director. "The amount of research and data that will be gathered and evaluated over a longer period will help us better understand what works. A data warehouse will be established to track information from across the system involving multiple organizations who will be able to collaborate for more effective outcomes."
The FUSE pilot is scheduled to launch this summer thanks to the commitment of our many community partners: BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, CHI Memorial, 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. Mental Health Cooperative has been chosen as the behavioral health organization that will provide the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team services funded by SAMHSA.
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said, “I am proud to have worked hand in hand with Hamilton County Sheriff’s office to secure $3.39 million in grant funding to support the FUSE program to combat substance abuse, mental illness and promote the rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals. It is critical that our local police departments have the funds they need so that they can continue to uplift the most vulnerable in our community."
County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, “We are delighted to receive this additional funding from the federal government that will enable our ambitious pilot program to help our fellow citizens who battle severe mental illnesses.”