Santa Rosa, CA – July 8, 2020 – A new report released today by the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley helps Sonoma County government leaders to identify and better serve a group of about 6,600 high utilizers of health, justice, and homelessness services provided by state and county agencies. These high utilizers represent approximately 1% of the county population, but account for an average of 26% of jail time, 28% of annual costs for behavioral health services, and 52% of nights in housing or shelters provided to the homeless.
The report focuses on government programs and services provided in five domains: physical health, behavioral health, housing, human services, and criminal justice. The research team worked with the county to link together anonymized records across county and state agencies, and then identified the highest utilizing “shared clients” between those systems. Providing services to the top 1% highest utilizers in Sonoma County cost the government at least $27,000 annually per person during the five-year study window.
“Almost half of high utilizers in Sonoma County don’t have stable housing, more than 6 in 10 have received services for substance abuse, and nearly two-thirds are interacting with the criminal justice system,” explains Evan White, executive director of the California Policy Lab and a co-author of the report. “These individuals have complex needs that are hard to identify by county staff working within only one domain, and our goal in partnering with Sonoma County is to help improve how these individuals receive care and services.”