COVID-19, food scarcity, housing assistance: Wiregrass 2-1-1 answers the call

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Wiregrass 2-1-1 volunteers are not only answering community-based questions, they’re also helping people stay coronavirus-aware.

This, after calls regarding COVID-19 skyrocketed and continue to outnumber any other types of calls.

Soon after COVID-19 was found in the United States in March 2020, Wiregrass 2-1-1 volunteers started seeing the pandemic’s affects on Wiregrass residents. Food quickly became the number one call.

“A lot of people at that particular time were temporarily not working and having to stay home,” Wiregrass 2-1-1 Executive Director David Duke said. “People were struggling to get by and needed help with food assistance.”

Next, came calls regarding COVID-19 testing and symptom information.

“People were calling wanting to know what the symptoms were,” Duke said. “Once they got that information, they wanted to know where they can get tested, what was the process to be tested?”

Calls continued pouring in, causing Wiregrass 2-1-1’s calls to jump over 84% when compared to 2019. But it wasn’t until nine months later that the organization reported its highest call volume in its history. Duke credits the amount of calls to the organization’s ability to provide highly-sought-after information.

“We had that information,” Duke told WDHN. “We had it available in our 2-1-1 database for those that were reaching out to us but we also would be sharing all of that information on social media.”

But now a new set of challenges has emerged. As the world nears COVID-19’s one year anniversary, housing assistance calls are expected to rise.

“There are concerns right now with people that have not been able to pay rent for a while and what they’re going to do,” Duke explained. “But not only those that are renting but landlords, too.”

Currently, resources are expected to arrive the first of March to help tenants and landlords via the Emergency Rental Assistance program. But in the meantime, whether it be COVID-19 information, vaccine information, housing assistance or food assistance, Wiregrass 2-1-1 is here 24 hours a day to answer your call.

For more information, contact Wiregrass 2-1-1 via their phone number or its Facebook page.

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