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“(About) 90% of the requests that we get and that we give out are for housing,” Conry said. “People are going to be homeless if we don’t help them pay their rent.”
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay saw a 17 percent increase in suicide calls from the summer of 2019-2020. The center cites the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the problem.
The centers, part of 241 locations across the country, link people to organizations that can provide rental assistance, food, health care, and more. Some have seen their typical call volume rise by as much as 1,200% since the virus gripped the country in March, according to Rachel Krausman, senior director for 211 at United Way Worldwide. United Way financially supports or operates many of the nation’s centers.
Beyond basic needs such as food and shelter, the 211 call center specialists serve as knowledgeable guides through the maze of social service agencies that also offer veterans’ services, seniors’ services, job training and placement, mental health counselling, addiction treatments, children’s services and more.
Hicks is one of two dozen people who fields calls daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some questions are easy, others challenging. Some are heartbreaking.
Need help with … almost anything? Just call 211
United Way of Dane County shares examples of the broad range of services its 211 specialists connect Madison, WI residents with every day.
Better than a Google search, 211 helps thousands of Minnesotans in need
Every 2.3 minutes, a Minnesotan calls 211 seeking help for themselves or another person in need. In an age where people are more likely to go to the internet to find such information on their own, 211 maintains its massive user base due to the quality of information it can provide.