PA: COVID requests drop, housing needs surge

September 18, 2020

Calls about COVID-19 may be dropping, but its economic impact keeps the phones ringing off the hook at Pennsylvania 2-1-1. Six months into the pandemic, requests to 2-1-1 for COVID-19 information have sharply declined – down 5-fold from their peak in March and April. Not so for housing needs, though. In contrast to COVID-19 requests, calls to 2-1-1 for rent assistance, shelters, low-cost housing and help dealing with landlord/tenant issues have all steadily increased since the pandemic began. Analyses examined requests to Pennsylvania 2-1-1 from January 1st to September 11, 2020. We divided these into seven periods: pre-COVID (Jan. 1 – March 11), and each month thereafter (e.g., Month 1, Month 2,…Month 6). During each period, we calculated the average number of daily requests received and plotted them by request type. Mouse over each line in the six charts below to see the number of daily requests for each need in each time period. Of particular concern in these trend charts are the increases from Month 5 to Month 6 of the pandemic. Requests for help with landlord/tenant issues (+17%), rent (+16%) and shelters (+14%) all rose sharply in Month 6. We divided requests into seven periods: Pre-COVID (January 1 – March 11), Month 1 (March 12 – April 11), Month 2 (April 12 – May 11), Month 3 (May 12 – June 11), Month 4 (June 12 – July 11), and Month 5 (July 12 – August 11) , and Month 6 (August 12 – September 11), and plotted the average daily requests for each period.

Contributors: Rachel Garg, Balaji Golla, Matthew Kreuter