COVID needs are drawing a more diverse set of callers to St. Louis’ top helpline. We mapped 94,661 requests to the 211 helpline for housing, food, utilities, and COVID-19 assistance from 63 ZIP codes in St. Louis City and County between March 12, 2020 and April 28, 2021. The patterns of community need were strikingly […]
Author: Balaji Golla
COVID requests greatest in CT, IA, MA
When States turn to 211 to provide COVID helpline services, it shows. States partnering with 211s to respond to COVID-19 calls report a larger share of 211 requests are related to COVID-19 information, testing, and vaccination than 211s in other states. We examined 11.2 million phone requests received by 211s in 33 states between March 12, 2020 and April 18, 2021 and compared across states […]
What 211s and crisis hotlines tell us about community needs
When people need help feeding their families, they may be less likely to prioritize other needs such as mental health. We tracked requests for both needs before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and found that when requests for food assistance increase, mental health requests decline. We examined 140,754 phone requests for food and 365,146 phone […]
Food needs nearly doubled in the first year of COVID-19 across the U.S., but not in Tennessee. Why? The difference could be due to local efforts that began almost immediately when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
Utah rent needs rise with COVID, expiring protections
Rent assistance requests rose 202% from 2019 to 2020 along Utah’s Wasatch Front. Rent needs spiked four times in 2020, all associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and relief efforts.
Economic needs trump COVID needs in high poverty ZIP codes
Low-income Americans have been hit hard by both health and economic impacts of COVID-19, but it’s their economic needs that seem to take priority.
Why are tax assistance requests lower in 2021?
Requests for help preparing tax returns are down. From January 1st to March 30th requests to 211s for tax assistance are 12% lower than the same period in 2020.
Seeking shelter in a frozen Texas blackout
As last month’s winter storm left millions of Texans without power, calls flooded into 211 from those seeking warmth and shelter.
Year 1 of COVID-19: Needs rise 59%
Over a full year of COVID-19, requests to 211 jumped 59%, led by needs for food and housing assistance. Requests for food assistance such as food pantries and home-delivered meals were up 97% and housing requests such as rent assistance rose 42%.
Americans’ COVID-19 information needs evolving
Helpline calls about COVID-19 are shifting again. Since 2021, the majority of COVID requests have sought information about or assistance with vaccination.
Volunteering requests rise as COVID worsens
At key moments in the COVID-19 pandemic, 211s saw a rise in volunteering and donations. Although most 211 calls are from those seeking help with social needs such as rent, food and utility payments, people also call to offer help – volunteering and making donations. We examined 79,767 of these requests received by 211s in […]
Unique program boosts food requests by NY seniors
Home-delivered meals for seniors just got a big upgrade. In Rochester, NY, adults 60 and older who could not travel to get food during the pandemic are able to order free meals from selected restaurants in the city.
NBC news story creates surge of 211 calls
On January 13th, NBC Nightly News aired a story on how to get a COVID vaccine appointment. In the story, viewers were encouraged to call 211 for help. It worked.
Preventing eviction? The St. Louis case for starting with 211
Communities trying to prevent eviction during COVID-19 might be wise to work with 211. New analyses show a near perfect correlation between the number of calls to a 211 helpline for rent assistance in a given ZIP code, and the number of eviction filings in that ZIP code.
DATA VIDEO: Month-to-month needs, Escambia, FL
We examined 34,671 requests received by 211 in Escambia during 2020 and plotted them month-by-month. Press the play button to set in motion a video graphic displaying these changes over time.
Year in Review: Rent requests up 43% in St. Louis
St. Louis ended 2020 with its busiest month of the year for rent assistance requests. 211 of Greater St. Louis received nearly 2,500 requests for rent assistance in December from across the St. Louis metropolitan area, a whopping 92% increase over the same month in 2019. For the year, rent assistant requests were 43% higher […]
Year in Review: landlord-tenant requests up most in the Carolinas
In the south, requests to 211 helplines for assistance with landlord-tenant issues were 18 times higher in South Carolina in 2020 (orange line in chart) compared to 2019 (blue line). Large gains were also seen in North Carolina (+818%) and Florida (+93%).
Year in Review: Utility needs rise in 3 of 5 states
Despite service disconnection bans in many states during the COVID-19 pandemic, utility assistance requests were up in most states in 2020.
Year in Review: Landlord-tenant issues greatest in South, Northeast
Landlord-tenant issues in the U.S. have grown most in the south and northeast during COVID-19. Requests about landlord-tenant issues were 180% higher in 2020 than 2019 in southern states.
Year in Review: Needs soar during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate and lasting impact on community social needs across the U.S. in 2020. Reviewing 10.5 million requests received by 211 helplines in 28 states during 2019 (blue line in chart) and 2020 (green line), the effect of COVID-19 is clear.
Tennessee: Rent assistance drives end-of-year rise in needs
Requests to 2-1-1 in Tennessee increased steadily in the final quarter of 2020, driven by growing demand for rent assistance. Since early October, 2-1-1s in TN have received 1,191 total requests per week, up 41% from weekly averages in the 3rd quarter, and up 50% from pre-COVID-19 weekly averages).
Mental health needs follow COVID trends in TX
In Texas, requests for mental health services rise and fall with COVID-19’s impact. The charts below show nearly identical patterns in the average number of daily requests to 2-1-1s in Texas in 2020 for COVID-19 information and assistance (top chart) and mental health services (bottom chart).
Texas-sized differences in rent, food, utility and health needs
Requests to 2-1-1 have increased throughout Texas during COVID-19, but the size of the gains depends a lot on the type of need and region.
Up most in November: Connecticut, Maine, Wyoming, Iowa
States with the largest increases in 2-1-1 requests in November share one thing in common. 2-1-1s in Connecticut (requests up 139% from October to November), Maine (+26%), Wyoming (+25%) and Iowa (+14%) have all been designated as the COVID-19 helpline in their states.
Rising water: 12 big trends in 2020
Housing needs are still increasing. Public transportation requests are lower, but bike requests are higher. Fewer Americans are asking for help with prescription medications, but more need assistance paying water bills. Housing needs are still increasing. Public transportation requests are lower, but bike requests are higher. Fewer Americans are asking for help with prescription medications, but more need assistance paying water bills.
Show-Me: Holiday meal needs in Missouri
During COVID-19, food needs in the two biggest cities in Missouri have been strikingly similar. Until Thanksgiving, that is.
November Needs: Food, COVID-19 requests grew fastest
From October to November, requests to 2-1-1 for food assistance and COVID-19 information increased more than any other needs. Of the 10 needs for which requests increased most during November (blue bars in chart), half were food-related.
Requests for testing surge as COVID-19 cases keep rising
Requests for COVID-19 diagnostic testing are surging as new cases rise. Connecticut 2-1-1 reported 377,558 testing inquiries to its web service in the first 15 days of November, including over 50,000 requests in a single day, November 13th.
Rent and mortgage requests hit record levels in MA
Two powerful forces are driving requests for rent and mortgage assistance to all-time highs in Massachusetts. The peak in mid-October was over 200 requests per day, more than ten times the pre-COVID rate.
House the young, feed the old
COVID-19 has younger Americans seeking help with housing while older adults are looking for food assistance. Regardless of age, women more likely than men to seek help with housing, food and utility payments.
Missouri: 2-1-1 calls increasing in high-COVID counties
In Missouri, counties with higher rates of COVID-19 infection have seen larger increases in calls for help to 2-1-1. The top 10 counties experiencing the largest increases in 2-1-1 requests from pre- to post-COVID-19 all had high COVID-19 rates.
In Ohio, resources reveal need
Among the many lessons learned about 2-1-1 requests during COVID-19, here’s one of the most important: availability of resources helps reveal community needs.
Where is COVID-19 impacting non-health needs most?
Setting aside the health impact of COVID-19, where has the economic impact of the pandemic been the greatest? According to new analyses of requests to 2-1-1 helplines across the U.S., counties in Florida, California and Hawaii top the list.
Rising water: STL requests up for water bills
With water and sewer bills coming due, a record number of St. Louisans are calling to 2-1-1 for payment assistance. From August 21st to November 2nd, totals requests are 116% higher in 2020 than 2019.
Year-over-year changes: October 2019 to 2020
Food, housing and utility needs reported to 2-1-1s in October 2020 were sharply higher than totals from October 2019.
Holiday meal requests drop in 2020
Last week we reported on a recent surge in requests for holiday meals in Broome County, NY. But elsewhere in the U.S., holiday meal requests to 2-1-1 are actually lower than in 2019. We excluded Broome County and examined 24,773 holiday meal requests received by 2-1-1s in 25 states during 2019 and 2020. As the […]
Trending in October: COVID, clothes, holiday meals
Requests for holiday meals, COVID-19 services, and clothing grew fastest in October. COVID-19 requests to 2-1-1, which include those seeking information about testing, jumped by 73% in October. Clothing needs grew by 30%. But the biggest October increase was in requests for holiday meals at 153%.
15 counties with the biggest jumps in 2-1-1 requests
The largest increases in 2-1-1 requests are coming from counties hardest hit by COVID-19. Requests from Polk County, IA (Des Moines) increased by 274% from pre- to post-COVID.
Holiday meal requests coming earlier in 2020
Voting isn’t the only thing people are lining up for earlier than usual this year. There’s also turkey. Every year, tens of thousands of low-income Americans call 2-1-1 for help finding food to make a Thanksgiving meal for their families. In some communities, those requests are piling up already, weeks sooner than usual. We examined […]
Needs top 100,000 in STL
Calls for help in St. Louis just topped 100,000 for the year. The largest pre- to post-COVID-19 increases have been in requests for assistance with getting personal hygiene products such as diapers and toilet paper (+96%), electric bill payment (+77%), gas bill payment (+56%), water bill payment (+51%), food pantries (+43%) and rent assistance (+37%). The chart shows these and other needs that have grown during the pandemic.
PART 2: Out of the valley
Not all needs increased with COVID-19. In fact, many dropped sharply when the pandemic hit. Seven months later, nearly all of these needs have returned to pre-COVID levels or higher.
Fall peak in utility needs comes earlier, is bigger in 2020
Requests for help paying utility bills always rise in the fall. In 2020, that increase came earlier and rose higher than usual. Overall, we found that after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, utility requests have been 45% higher in 2020 compared to 2019.
PART 1: After the initial shock
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 sent requests to 2-1-1 skyrocketing for a wide range of needs. We identified four distinct patterns that followed the initial burst of requests to 2-1-1, and they vary by type of need.
Rent past due: landlord-tenant issues rise
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its eighth month, no need has increased as steadily and consistently as landlord-tenant issues. At 2-1-1 helplines across the U.S., requests for help with landlord-tenant issues have nearly tripled since the pandemic began. These requests capture property owners and renters seeking assistance with legal issues, as well as – during […]
Pandemic or hurricane?
With Hurricane Sally striking Alabama on September 16, we had a rare opportunity to compare the impact of a pandemic and hurricane in the same state and same year.
2-1-1/CARES join forces in STL; calls surge
With 2-1-1 and CARES Act-funded agencies teaming up, rent and mortgage requests in St. Louis are soaring.
Childcare needs back to pre-COVID levels
After nearly 7 months in a pandemic, childcare needs have returned to pre-COVID levels. This may reflect some combination of parents returning to work and partial or interrupted school openings.
At-home schooling drives food needs higher in Seattle
As summer drew to a close and students in King County, Washington prepared to start the school year at home, food needs grew steadily. Up to 30,000 students who would have received free or reduced-price lunches at school would not be receiving them, at least in the usual way.
COVID-related health plans in CT drive insurance requests higher
COVID-19 and a slate of creative new state health plans are driving big increases in requests for health insurance in Connecticut. Since the pandemic began, requests to Connecticut 2-1-1 for health insurance are up 48% compared to the same dates in 2019.
Calls flood 2-1-1 in Minnesota for COVID aid program
Requests for rent and mortgage assistance in Minnesota more than doubled when COVID-19 hit, the doubled AGAIN last month when the state launched a new aid program.