Alaska 2-1-1 just hit a major milestone: its 200,000th call from an Alaskan seeking help.
United Way’s Alaska 2-1-1 helpline connects Alaskans to vital resources:
- Basic needs support – food, housing, shelter, rent and utility assistance – comprised 53% of the 34,371 referrals made in Anchorage last year
- Health care comprised 9% of all Anchorage referrals
- A wide range of other services – like after-school programs, care for an aging parent, job training, free tax preparation services, and financial literacy classes
Helping callers access services is about far more than just being there to take the call. The information and assistance requests to Alaska 2-1-1 crystalize what services are and aren’t available to meet trending needs. That data motivates action to better address Alaskan’s needs.
For example, the 200,000th caller wanted to speak to a health care navigator to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Several years ago, seeing the consistent pattern of Alaskans seeking access to health care, United Way of Anchorage and Alaska 2-1-1 stepped up to serve as a health care navigator. Since then, the number of Alaskans without health insurance has decreased 19%.
Watching the trends also allowed us to better meet basic needs. Alaska’s economic downturn contributed to a sharp increase in requests for rent and utility assistance. Since those are most often in short supply, Alaska 2-1-1 helped people look for alternative supports, like food, to preserve family income for housing and utilities. Noting this sharp uptick in need led UWA and others to both shore up and improve how safety net services are provided. The result was more resources were generated and the delivery system was enhanced.
Whether you speak English, Spanish, Tigrinya, Somali, Hmong, or Mongolian (the top languages 2-1-1 heard in 2016), Alaska 2-1-1 will be there for the 200,001st caller — and for the 360,000th online web searcher, with relevant answers.