Happy February 11th, or as we like to say at United Way for Greater Austin, “Happy 2-1-1 Day!”
Each year, 2-1-1 resource centers around the country celebrate this day and aim to raise awareness about the importance of the service.
Since 1996, our Navigation Center has served the Greater Austin community as an access point for health and human services referrals. We are able to quickly and privately connect those in need of assistance to nonprofit and government resources, as well as track the needs and trends of the community as a whole with each call.
The UWATX Navigation Center celebrates 2-1-1 Day by releasing an annual “Community Needs and Trends Report,” a compilation of data reflecting the scope of needs within our community throughout the year.
The most recent data showcases the suburbanization of poverty in our region. While 2-1-1 call volume stabilized in Central and East Austin, we saw a significant increase in call volume from outlying areas, including Pflugerville, Manor, San Marcos and portions of Bastrop County.
We aren’t the only ones noticing this trend. According to the Brookings Institute, “There has been a 143% increase in suburban poverty in the Austin metro area over the last decade.”
Of the 327,935 calls answered in 2014, 79% of callers were female. We know that single parent-headed households are more likely to live in poverty than dual income households. The majority of callers were between 20 to 50-years-old, indicating that it is the working poor who are likely struggling to make ends meet.
Top caller needs continue to include: food insecurity, health care needs, utility and rent/housing assistance, and questions about affordable child care options.
In 2014 we received 12K+ calls regarding health insurance needs. 50% of those calls were related to the Affordable Care Act, and our Navigation Center made more than 800 ACA-related appointments.
For a portion of our Health and Human Services Commission calls, navigators are even able to schedule appointment reminders for callers, leading to a higher ‘show’ rate for appointments.
Our staff completed 54K+ follow-up calls last year to ensure that callers were connected to the appropriate resources. Additionally, our call specialists were able to offer additional referrals in cases where there were unmet needs. More than 20,000 of those follow-up attempts were completed!