Record-breaking calls to 2-1-1 evident of growing community need

HOUSTON, TX  (Jan. 3, 2018) – The 2-1-1- Texas/United Way HELPLINE hit a major milestone in serving the Houston community as they answered 1,056,998 calls in 2017 from neighbors looking for help.

Available 24/7, 365 days a year in over 200 languages, 2-1-1 is a free, confidential helpline operated by United Way of Greater Houston and staffed by trained specialists equipped with the most up-to-date list of resources for social service needs.

The top reasons for calls to the largest helpline of its kind in the country were for assistance with basic needs such as food, medical and prescription assistance, utility assistance, rent/mortgage assistance and help finding temporary shelter. In 2016, 2-1-1 calls reached 972,600 and have quadrupled since 2005 due largely to Houston’s growing population and a widening gap in income making it difficult for many to cover basic needs.  

2-1-1 is also the community’s key information source before, during and after a storm. Trained HELPLINE specialists have access to a comprehensive database of disaster resources that is continuously updated, connecting people in need with up-to-the-minute information and critical resources. Since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, the helpline answered 347,813 calls for assistance with disaster food stamps, FEMA registration, rental assistance, disaster shelters and unemployment assistance.

“This milestone isn’t just about answering one million calls, it is about connecting one million of our neighbors in need with the resources they need to improve their lives,” said Anna M. Babin, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Houston. “This is a strong reminder that day in and day out, the need in our community is great, especially after the devastating effects of a major disaster like Hurricane Harvey.”

2-1-1 specialists are trained and equipped to help callers with immediate needs like food and shelter while working to assist with root problems through initiatives like United Way THRIVE, which helps families achieve financial stability, and United Way’s veteran’s initiative, which helps veterans access benefits and find support that fits their unique needs. 2-1-1 serves the 13 counties in and around the Greater Houston area and provides after-hours assistance regionally to the Coastal Bend area as well as Tarrant County.

For more information on the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE, visit www.unitedwayhouston.org. Those needing assistance with Hurricane Harvey recovery or basic needs can dial 2-1-1 to talk with a trained HELPLINE specialist.

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