By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun
7:36 PM EST, February 8, 2013
The 211 call center for United Way of Central Maryland answered more than 97,000 calls last year from individuals looking for tax assistance, housing, food and health services, officials announced Friday.
The number of calls represents a 6.4 percent increase over the prior fiscal year.
"The information we glean about the need in the community is very important to the work of United Way locally," the director of local help line Saundra Bond said in a statement. "It helps the organization understand who, where and what hurts the most during these difficult financial times."
Bond said one example is the United Way's creation of the Access to Healthy Food and Family Stability Initiatives developed after analyzing 211 call data over recent years.
Top requests received by the local call center were for tax assistance and housing, the organization said. In response, free tax preparation appointments were scheduled for low- to moderate-income individuals. Callers were also connected to rental assistance and emergency and transitional housing.
Individuals were also seeking health and human services, legal assistance, help paying utilities and financial support.
The information was released to coincide with National 211 Day, which falls on Monday. Across the U.S., individuals facing crises call 211 every three seconds.
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