September’s fastest rising needs: Internet access, utility bills

As a new school year began with millions of American children learning remotely at home, requests to 2-1-1s for internet assistance rose 40% in September. That topped the list of needs with the largest proportional increase in requests from August to September. Utility payment assistance needs also rose sharply, with requests for heating fuel (+29%), utility payment plans (26%), water (+22%) and gas (+14%) all among the top 10 in percentage increase (see chart, in blue). Meeting the demand for internet access is critically important, especially because schools that serve more students living in poverty were more likely to start the year online. Some 2-1-1s are forming innovative partnerships to address internet needs of families with school children. Requests related to COVID-19 saw one of the biggest declines from August to September, dropping over 20% (chart, in red). Analyses examined 669,908 requests received August 1-31 and 634,940 requests received September 1-30 by 32 2-1-1s that participate in a daily tracking system. The chart reports the percentage increase or decrease in requests for needs that received at least 1,000 requests in August. Mouse over each bar to see the number of requests in each month. States included were AL, AR, AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, HI, IA, IL, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NV, MY, OH, PA, SC, SD, TN, VA, WA, WI and WY.

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