More Iowans calling 2-1-1 with financial needs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

More Iowans calling 2-1-1 with financial needs

Dubuque (KWWL) -- For several years, people in most eastern Iowa counties have been able to pick up the phone and simply dial 2-1-1 to get connected with a United Way center for information and help. Recently, the 2-1-1 call center in Dubuque has been flooded with calls, mostly from people needing financial help.

In the Project Concern office, four staffers man the 2-1-1 lines offering information, financial resources and aid to people in Dubuque, Delaware and Jackson counties. Director Jenny Manders says right now the majority of callers are in their 20s to 40s and work or did work in unskilled labor jobs.

"We're definitely having more people needing first time assistance. Maybe people who are getting laid off. Two parent house holds where one of the adults was laid off, lost their job," Manders said.

The call center in Dubuque has seen around a 25 percent increase in calls from just a year ago: 419 last January, and 573 this January. Even more striking is what the calls are for. Calls have doubled for people needing help with food, utilities and rent.

Another difference for staffers -- the calls are getting more complex.

"We expected the increase in calls, and i definitely have seen the difference between people who were calling for just information referrals, which for me and my staff is a fairly short phone call, to people who are like with multiple needs and multiple financial needs," Manders said.

The dubuque 2-1-1 center expects another big spike in April once utility companies can start turning off power for delinquent accounts.

Other 2-1-1 call centers are seeing a spike as well. The East Central Iowa center handles 24 Iowa counties. Last January and February, they took close to 8,000 calls. But already to date this year, they've had more than 11,000 calls.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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