Horizon House provides resources to help Indianapolis homeless avoid jail, hospital
Outreach has saved $260K of taxpayer money
Last Updated: 242 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - A pilot program is helping the homeless and taxpayers too, by aiming to keep the chronically homeless out of jail and the hospital emergency room.
Horizon House, which is funded through grants from the United Way and the Lilly Endowment, is the result of collaboration among social service providers and law enforcement.
The program focuses on substance abuse treatment, mental health help and housing services for homeless people -- the kinds of programs that would help them avoid arrest and trips to the emergency room.
"Not every time do they want to go to treatment or get involved with programs, but that consistency and consistent follow-up is what engages them and provides them with a bit of hope," said Melissa Burgess, with Horizon House.
In Indianapolis, as many as 400 people are chronically homeless, having lived on the street for more than a year. At a camp just east of downtown, social service providers have helped as many as 20 homeless get back into housing since June.
Tommy Young, 60, is known throughout the system as a frequent flyer. Over the past five years, he's made more than 2,000 trips to the hospital emergency room, sometimes twice a day, for issues related to his alcoholism.
"You may wake up and get yourself a cup of coffee in the morning. I would have to have a half-pint of vodka to keep from going into alcohol seizures," Young said.
Young has been sober for nine months.
"I feel great for what they've done for me. Got me off the streets and going to AA meetings and all that," Young said.
The street outreach program has saved an estimated $265,000 in jail processing and emergency room costs.
"We can say that we've successfully saved or reduced 96 percent of the ER visits of those we've engaged. That's pretty significant," Burgess said.
Service providers are actively trying to raise funds to keep the program going.
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