Every day in Austin, we’re working to ensure each child has access to high-quality education, every family has the tools they need to be financially stable, and health and human services are readily available for all.
Since 1996, our Navigation Center has served as the access point for our community for health and human resources. The 2-1-1 Navigation Center has published its annual report of trends in community needs for social services for 2015. This past year, the Navigation Center received a total of 261,504 calls from residents in need of help.
The UWATX Navigation Center partners with 2-1-1 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to help individuals navigate through 30,000 nonprofit and government resources in the ten counties we serve. The counties served through our Navigation Center include Travis, Llano, Burnet, Williamson, Blanco, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop, Lee and Fayette County.
Here are some of the community needs trends we saw in 2015:
Increase in Housing-Related Calls
Our data shows housing-related needs were the top subject 2-1-1 callers asked about in 2015. Previously, food-related needs were consistently the top need. However, they are related; many times when someone is paying a high percentage of income on their housing, they are likely to have a hard time paying for other basic needs as well, like food, clothing, healthcare, prescriptions and more. This year, the Navigation Center made 100,128 housing-related referrals, which made up 31% of total calls.
More Calls From Outlying Areas
2-1-1 calls reflect demographic shifts in our community. There has been an increase in calls from people living in Williamson, Caldwell and Hays Counties, which have experienced booming growth in recent years as people who can no longer afford Austin are pushed out. Amy Price, 2-1-1 Community Information Director, states “Now, more calls are coming from outlying areas. These are people being displaced from the urban core, people with median and low-income who are leaving for these outlying areas.”
The 2-1-1 App Launched
Nine of out ten low-income families report that they have some form of internet access, but between a quarter and a third of them say they most often use smartphones and tablet computers for internet access (Hechingereport.org). With changes in how low-income individuals are accessing the internet and finding answers to their needs, the Navigation Center was inspired to create a tool that would cater to those who mainly access internet by smartphone.
The 2-1-1 Austin mobile app was developed by Cerebri and streamlines access to social services information in a convenient, anonymous way. Users can download the app from the iPhone or Android App Store and enter their zip code to connect to the most relevant resources based on their needs and geographic location.
The Community Needs and Trends Report is essential for stakeholders and service providers who can use this information to determine what unmet needs we should focus our resources on improving access to in the community.