On March 18, the day after closing sit-down service for bars and restaurants, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper began to encourage residents to call 2-1-1 for food, housing and other assistance related to …
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On March 18, the day after closing sit-down service for bars and restaurants, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper began to encourage residents to call 2-1-1 for food, housing and other assistance related to COVID-19.
The program, which can be accessed online at www.nc211.org or by phone by dialing 2-1-1, has been in place in North Carolina for about a decade, aided by the United Way of North Carolina. The resource is geared to connect “North Carolina communities with free and easy access to health and human services, government services, and disaster resources,” according to information provided by the United Way of Chatham County. So far during the pandemic, the service has answered more than 12,000 calls across the state with about 7,500 being related to COVID-19.
First implemented in Atlanta in 1997, states and communities have implemented the same 2-1-1 program and now nearly 95 percent of people in the United States are able to access the resources that 2-1-1 provides. Callers in North Carolina can find resources for basic needs, education, healthcare, income support, mental health and legal services.
N.C. 2-1-1 does not offer medical, legal or other advice, but connects residents to a service provider from its vast database. A majority of the calls to N.C. 2-1-1 in the recent weeks have been for food pantries and motel payment assistance. In Chatham County, a majority of the calls have been for housing and utility assistance.
“NC 2-1-1 is an important resource every day for families in our community who may experience a crisis such as food insecurity or unemployment,” said Dina Reynolds, the executive director of the United Way of Chatham County. “During times like this with the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of all Chatham residents will increase and I am proud that 2-1-1 will be here to help.”
Another reason to use N.C. 2-1-1 to find resources is that the need it tracked. While the program retains a stringent privacy protocol for callers, the needs of a state or county can be tracked based on the needs of the callers. This information will help build the system and find where supports are most needed in a specific area of the state.
“Services like NC 2-1-1 are critical during times of emergency,” Cooper said. “We need to make sure North Carolinians have access to the resources they need while we continue to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
North Carolinians can also get updates on COVID-19 via text by sending COVIDNC to 898211. Those who sign up via text will receive general information and updates through their phones. By signing up via text, residents can alleviate the “expected high call volume” for updates on the virus, according to a press release sent earlier in March.
For more information, visit the website at www.nc211.org or call 2-1-1.
Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.