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. These are among the national trends seen at 2-1-1s over the first 11 months of 2020. We examined 9.3 million requests received by 2-1-1s in 31 states between January 1st and November 30th, 2020. Each chart shows the average number of daily requests by month for different needs. Requests for rent assistance and help with landlord/tenant issues have steadily increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, with both being more than twice as high in November as they were pre-COVID. Similarly, requests for help paying water bills have risen steadily during the pandemic, as predicted by studies documenting the rising cost of water bills and its impact on low-income families. The most commonly requested food needs – pantries, help buying food, and home-delivered meals – have followed nearly identical patterns in 2020, with requests rising sharply when COVID-19 hit before settling in at new levels at least 50% higher than before the pandemic. While the volume of requests for ride share and bike programs is low, the pattern is clear: steady growth. This comes at a time when fewer 2-1-1 callers are requesting help with public transportation such as bus or train passes. Prescription medication requests to 2-1-1 have dropped during COVID, likely reflecting a broader decline in use of health care services; with fewer Americans visiting a doctor, new prescriptions drop and existing prescriptions are renewed and refilled less often. Analyses examined data from 2-1-1 Counts, a daily tracking system of community needs. States included: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, IA, IL, KS, KY, KS, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, SC, SD, TN, VA, WA, WI and WY. Mouse over the blue line in each chart to see the average number of daily requests received during each month.

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