Thu11272014

News

Few Los Altos residents taking advantage of 211 assistance line

Those who dial 211 will receive free and confidential assistance from the non-profit’s multilingual information and referral service.

Residents of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills may live in wealthy communities, but several face challenges and have needs that the service strives to fulfill, according to director Kim Ferm.

“We received 59 calls from Los Altos and eight calls from Los Altos Hills last year,” Ferm said. “Most of the callers needed help with housing and utilities.”

In comparison with a neighboring city, 211 service representatives received 727 calls from Mountain View residents last year, concerning housing, utilities, public safety, health care and meals, she said.

Completing four years of service, 211 service representatives connect callers to thousands of local services that provide food, housing, employment assistance and child care, Ferm said.

Callers are not required to provide personal information, and 50 percent do not volunteer any, she added.

By getting the callers’ zip codes, service representatives can refer them to organizations and services in their areas, she said.

Recent calls from local residents include one from a 70-year-old Los Altos woman requiring medical equipment for her spouse and a Los Altos couple wishing to take parenting classes, she said. Representatives draw from the 930 agencies in the organization’s database to refer callers.

211 officials plan to develop a follow-up program soon to track the success of their service.

While most people call 211 looking for help, some – including several from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills – call offering to donate cash or in-kind services, said Ferm, adding that specialists refer them to agencies that would accept their donations.

The referral service is available 24/7 and caters to the county’s diverse population by offering callers access to 170 different language experts. 211 covers the entire Bay Area. For more information, visit www.uwsv.org.

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