ShareThis Page

Calls to 211 helpline grew by 7,000 last year

Stephen Huba
| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 3:36 p.m.
The Union Mission, a homeless shelter in Latrobe. Calls to the 211 United Way helpline often are for services such as emergency housing.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
The Union Mission, a homeless shelter in Latrobe. Calls to the 211 United Way helpline often are for services such as emergency housing.

Seven thousand more calls were made to the 211 United Way helpline in 2017 than the year before, the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania said on Thursday.

In 2017, more than 199,000 Pennsylvanians turned to 211 for help, including 81,033 people from 11 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Sunday is PA 2-1-1 Day, which is held to draw attention to the services that are available to people who call the helpline.

“People contact 211 mainly to find help with basic needs: food, shelter and utility assistance,” said Bobbi Watt Geer, United Way regional vice president. “But they also call for everyday information, like how to get their taxes done for free or how to find job training.”

In 2017, the top needs of 211 callers in Westmoreland and Fayette Counties included utility payment assistance, food pantry access and rent payment assistance.

“The increase in contacts shows that more people are reaching out for help and accessing the services they're eligible for in their communities,” Watt Geer said. “But it also means that there's more work to do. Too many of our neighbors still need our help to cover their basic essentials, things no one should ever be without — food, heat, water.”

More than 6,000 people in Westmoreland County contacted 211 for help in the past year, which includes calls, texts and chat messages received on pa211sw.org .

Contacts totaled more than 1,000 in Fayette County, 755 in Armstrong County and 45,106 in Allegheny County.

Calls to 211 are fielded by trained information and referral operators 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Operators help callers determine the best way to access the services they need.

United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania serves Allegheny, Westmoreland, Fayette and southern Armstrong counties. It has provided referral services to local residents through 211 since 2011, although the program was first launched by the United Way in Atlanta more than 20 years ago.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me