Crises averted: 211 hotline reaches O.C. residents in need of food, housing, detox aid and more

A male with a voice that discloses a long-ago life in Brooklyn calls the phone bank at 211OC, a 911-like hotline for help finding almost everything– from food to medical help to after-school tasks for kids.

He claims he can’t manage to pay his water costs. His supply will be shut down within hrs. A driver kinds the requirement in a computer system, scanning countless support programs. Within minutes, the guy decides on an alleviation company that could aid decrease his costs and also deal emergency assistance.

One more situation averted.

Averaging more than 7,000 calls a month, 211OC is a 2-year-old not-for-profit aid line that aids individuals find housing and works as an umbrella agency for those looking for aid of all types.

“We are what 911 is, but also for wellness and also human solutions,” says Karen Williams, head of state and also CEO of 211OC.

Yet lots of people have never ever become aware of the program– designed on an across the country effort– as well as a lot of do not recognize its range.

For many years the firm ran only a hotline. In 2014, Williams’ company incorporated with OC Partnership, which can send out outreach employees into the area. The result is a free one-stop look for educational support, transport, real estate as well as legal services.

“We’re not discussing taking care of issues,” Williams says on a current day, while strolling with the buzz of the phone financial institution in Santa Ana. “We’re discussing fixing troubles.”

In enhancement to manning the phones, the team does community outreach. Recently, for instance, 211OC employees visited Mary’s Kitchen area, a nonprofit in Orange, to explain how food stamps work. Armed with a laptop, area wellness navigator Jackie Brltran aided a homeless guy called Billy Wayne Phillips complete types within minutes.

“Forty percent of people who receive CalFresh do not apply,” Williams states about the food stamps program. “It’s a significant safeguard that people do not take advantage of.”


Phone drivers use pseudonyms to prevent undesirable attention or troubles with random customers. During a recent lunch hr, an operator that calls himself “Paul” helps out the man that hails from Brooklyn and requires support with his water bill.

He asks his POSTAL CODE. The guy, a pro, stays in Buena Park. With April 15 looming, Paul inquires if he likewise would like tax obligation aid.

“I don’t pay taxes,” the male states, “due to the fact that I don’t function.”

The typical phone call lasts 5 to 7 minutes, yet could take as long as 20 minutes. The company has 1,200 agencies at its disposal that provide 2,900 services in English, Spanish as well as various other languages when needed. Frequently, operators recall making safe bets are OKAY.

The man supplies a passionate many thanks, mentions that he dislikes assistance, but can’t make ends satisfy. The operator asks if he would certainly like to make an application for food stamps. No chance.

With help from the Orange County Community Structure and SoCalGas, 211OC is intensifying its focus on pros. About 5 percent of phone calls are from experts.

Paul has a last concern, one all operators are meant to ask: “Is there anything else you require?”

The veteran states he’s established, but he’s not ready to finish the chat. The man asks Paul if he’s a veteran. He is. After sharing a number of salted army jokes, the male vows to follow up with the water expense.

Operators like Paul train for 50 hours before functioning the hotline. The “anything else” concern is frequently among one of the most vital inquiries they ask. Numerous callers are reluctant to point out uncomfortable problems, especially when they deal with a number of challenges.

“We penetrate a bit,” says Amy Arambulo, that runs the phone bank. “We aid individuals come down to the nitty-gritty.”

The tricks, she claims, are to respect callers as well as maintain compassion. “The last telephone call of the day should be like the initial telephone call of the day.”

It’s a normal day and also all six operators are overloaded. One customer states she has a pal with a prescription opioid obsession. He requires to remain in a sober living residence, she claims, however there is no insurance coverage, no cash.

With a prescription opioid epidemic sweeping the nation as well as Orange County averaging an unintentional deadly overdose every 2 days, free therapy is hard to find. The operator offers a few tips.

As the phone call proceeds, the female says the addict is her sibling. As well as it’s not opioids, it’s meth. And after that she moves equipments and also it appears like the abuser may be the customer herself. Ultimately, the driver suggests numerous detoxification facilities.

A lady reaching out is typical. About 70 percent of callers are women. Several seek aid with fundamental needs such as food as well as shelter.


An additional lady’s voice visits the line. A credit history management company has actually offered her with documents. She’s made six call trying to obtain aid as well as goes to her wits’ end. She desires a lawyer or cash.

If 211OC bails her out, the female states, “I’ll work for complimentary.”

The driver discusses that the nonprofit isn’t really a financial institution. It additionally doesn’t need customers to function. However the agency can track down legal insight. It also helps with finding works.

Williams says summertimes are specifically busy. The reasons are twofold. Initially, with college out, even more people look for tasks. Second, functioning parents wonder just what to do with their kids.

An online review of 211OC. org discovers even more compared to a dozen Boys & & Girls Clubs in North County, however none in South County. It states a kid treatment sychronisation agency in Irvine however nothing south of Irvine.

For a firsthand examination, I lately positioned a phone call to 211 and also asked about after-school aid for an 8-year-old in San Clemente. The driver asked a series of concerns, including my ethnic culture and also whether I’m eligible for food stamps. Eventually, she provided phone numbers that were expected to assist with youngster treatment. But both were no more in service.

Later on, I consulted with Williams concerning the troubles. She said the company scrubs contact number on an annual basis.

Clearly, there is job to be done, and 211OC can be only comparable to the solutions the county provides. Still, for thousands of customers on a monthly basis, the company is a launching pad towards locating somebody to pay attention and help throughout tough times.

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