Health Lab Merging Data from Cook County Jail and the Homeless Management Information System: Preliminary Findings

Municipalities across the country wrestle with how to help “high utilizers” of multiple sectors, namely homeless services, jails, and the emergency health system. News media as well as individual entities report that high utilizers use a disproportionate amount of resources. Policymakers and advocates are proposing and piloting a range of strategies. This brief provides additional information for those efforts in Chicago.

This brief summarizes what we have learned about “cycling high users” (CHUs) — people who cycle at high rates between homeless services and Cook County Jail in Chicago. We followed CHUs over time to better understand their service use patterns, general characteristics, and common profiles, and list factors that help identify those at highest risk to target them for additional services and help end the cycling of high users across the criminal justice, homeless services, and health sectors in Chicago.

We analyzed data from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and the Cook County Jail, with the support of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and All Chicago. Merging data across sectors is providing unprecedented insights into the true scope of utilization, both the amount of CHUs and service utilization patterns.

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