2-1-1 calls reflect economic uncertainty
Victorville Daily Press
October 31, 2008
Ryan Orr, Staff Writer
United Way’s 211 is a general help line where operators are trained to talk to callers about any problem they may have, how they got there and what else they may need, said Christine Briggs, executive director of the Desert Communities United Way.
Of the 987 calls to 211 in August by residents in Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville and Adelanto, 32 percent called for utility bill payment assistance.
That issue claimed the highest number of calls in each of the four cities, followed closely by assistance with food or mortgage payments.
The number of calls jumped again in September, and Victorville registered the second-highest number of calls of any city in the county for the third month in a row, finishing behind San Bernardino.
Countywide, requests for food continue to be high at 13 percent, up from 12 percent in August.
Requests for utility payments have seen a substantial increase, comprising 22 percent of September’s calls, up from 19 percent in August.
Perhaps the most surprising increase is in calls requesting help with mental health care, which jumped from 17 calls in August to 315 in September countywide.
“The needs, especially just for the basic things, have more than doubled — probably tripled,” said Briggs. “It’s kind of scary.”
Briggs said that she thinks people move to the Victor Valley thinking that the whole cost of living is lower, and though housing is cheaper, utilities are high and gasoline is expensive — especially for commuters.
“I think a lot of people are choosing between putting gas in their car to get to work and buying food for their kids,” Briggs said.
211 calls for August
By the numbers:
• 42 — Calls made from Adelanto for utility bill payment assistance.
• 19 — Calls made from Adelanto for rent/mortgage payment assistance.
• 101 — Total calls made to 211 from Adelanto.
• 65 — Calls made from Apple Valley for utility bill payment assistance.
• 27 — Calls made from Apple Valley for food assistance.
• 206 — Total calls made to 211 from Apple Valley.
• 63 — Calls made from Hesperia for utility bill payment assistance.
• 36 — Calls made from Hesperia for food assistance.
• 263 — Total calls made to 211 from Hesperia.
• 150 — Calls made from Victorville for utility payment assistance.
• 68 — Calls made from Victorville for rent/mortgage payment assistance.
• 546 — Total calls made to 211 from Victorville.
SOURCE: United Way.