Utilizing United Way’s 211 in a COVID-19 era

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A resource phone line for the Tri-county is seeing numbers like never before.

According to Caleb Goodrum, Manager of Data Quality and Engagement for the United Way Association of South Carolina, 211 is an information referral service that if someone calls with a certain need, they will be referred to a provider nearest to them in the Tri-county area. 

Most of the stuff that we get is basic needs focused. It always has been. So that’s like housing, food, utilities, and that’s what kind of jumped yah know with the Coronavirus upon us.  

Caleb Goodrum, Manager of Data Quality and Engagement, United Way Association of South Carolina

Goodrum says what increased the most was their calls in regards to food insecurity. In the past two weeks, the percentage of calls fielded jumped 778%. 

A lot of folks I think became, a little, or a lot insecure about their food at one time. That was probably due to a bunch of layoffs and school going out and school meal programs not speeding up fast enough…

They’ll call—explain what they need as far as that goes, I don’t have enough food more than 3 days and we’ll refer them to a food pantry, give them the hours and the location and basically the next steps for them to take.  

Caleb Goodrum, Manager of Data Quality and Engagement, United Way Association of South Carolina

211 deals with roughly 2,400 programs in their database representing 15,00 programs. While some food pantries had difficulty keeping up at first, they are mostly continuing their services. 

Also up 99% for the 211 call center is rent payment assistance inquiries. Goodrum says despite the stay of eviction, the anxiety for many remains—especially for those who may have been recently released from a job. 

A lot of evictions are stayed. A lot of power shut offs have been stayed as well, but still people are feeling that pressure because if you lose your job and you can’t pay your rent, your landlord still knows it. So our calls doubled about rent payments, for example people just aren’t having that money come in anymore. So, there are a lot of people newly facing this challenge, along with a lot of people that have faced it for a long time.  

Caleb Goodrum, Manager of Data Quality and Engagement, United Way Association of South Carolina

While asking for help may be hard , there is another way to view the call, or online inquiry to 211.  

We get to look at the data and look at the needs of the community and we can tie it back into local united ways, the policy makers, and let them know what we’re seeing so by using 211 to help yourself out of your crisis hopefully, you’re actually helping much more people. 

Caleb Goodrum, Manager of Data Quality and Engagement, United Way Association of South Carolina

To reach the 211 Helpline, click here.

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