The economic impact of COVID-19 has made the housing crisis in the Twin Cities region more severe. Nearly 60% of all calls to United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline, a statewide resource that provides information and referrals to services, are related to housing. Caring specialists listen and address urgent needs ranging from emergency shelter to rent, mortgage and utilities assistance. As our community continues to navigate the complex impacts of COVID-19, 211 has been there every step of the way. During the latter half of 2020, 211 served as the entry point for the State of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, screening callers for program eligibility. The program supported households that were unable to meet housing expenses due to economic impacts of COVID-19, covering expenses such as past due rent, mortgage payments, and utility payments.
Recently, a man called 211 a few days before his wife was expected to give birth to their first child. They were experiencing COVID-19 related unemployment and were behind on their rent. A 211 rent assistance specialist asked the caller a few questions to determine eligibility for the State’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, and they were able to begin the application process over the phone. In addition, through their conversation, the 211 specialist identified other supports available to help with things like baby supplies, financial assistance, legal services, and job search and vocational services. At the beginning of the call, the man was on the verge of tears but by the end of the call, he told the 211 specialist he was feeling hopeful again. He also shared that it happened to be his birthday, and the support he received through 211 was the best present he could imagine.
Between August and December 2020, 211 staff answered a call every two minutes from a person in our community.
When you make a gift to the 211 Hope Starts Here Fund, all funds raised go towards 211 Resource Helpline services and will be distributed immediately.