Research supported that the Iowa City community needed a new approach to achieve sustained impact for its chronically homeless population. Non-profit, government, healthcare, and law enforcement officials tracked the service utilization of four chronically homeless individuals. These individuals, and others like them, were caught in a cycle of jails, shelters, emergency rooms or other crisis services, only to return to life on the streets and enter the cycle again. The data showed the cost of services for these four individuals totaled nearly $3-million over five years.
Spurred by this data, a Housing First, FUSE (Frequent User System Engagement) model was pursued. This nationally-recognized approach anticipates 60% cost reduction in services used, and improved health and dignity for tenants. Cross Park Place is a permanent, stable home for 24 chronically homeless individuals. The two-story 14,300 sf building is located on a zoning edge adjacent to commercial, retail, multi-family, and single-family neighborhoods. This walkable community is well-connected to bus lines and bike trails.
The project provides three primary components: shelter (private apartments); community gathering spaces (indoor and outdoor); and health (optional on-site social and health resources). The facility’s front porch is screened to provide veiled privacy for residents.
The building is equipped with simple, durable materials and energy efficient systems to create a facility that is easy to manage and maintain. Sustainable initiatives include a high-efficiency heating/cooling (Variable Refrigerant Flow) system with individual unit controls, operable windows, and a 53-panel rooftop solar array.
A single non-profit operates this and two other facilities that offer complimentary, but non-overlapping services to individuals and families facing short- or long-term homelessness. Cross Park Place is the first of its kind in Iowa and has been operational since late January 2019. It is already demonstrating success for the community and, more importantly, the residents that call it home.