HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) – February 2nd is National 211 Day. The health and human services hotline is a place to go when people don’t know where to turn for help. It connects people in need with those who can provide assistance.

The hotline is delivered in Madison County through a collaboration between Crisis Services of North Alabama and the United Way of Madison County.

Last year, people in Madison County made 23,178 inquiries to 211. This includes calls, texts and online chats. United Way of Madison County Community Impact Director, Cathy Miller, says that’s nearly 4 times higher than the 6,000 inquires the hotline received pre-pandemic.

“We see that as a reflection of the challenges people have faced with the pandemic and our growth in the community,” Miller explained.

People made the most requests for assistance with housing (rent, mortgage, temporary housing, ect.), which accounted for a quarter of the requests last year. Rental assistance was the top request consisting of 62.6 percent of the inquiries in the housing category.

Many people also used 211 for transportation and utilities assistance. In addition to that, many inquiries were made asking about general information that included government services, enrichment, volunteering, donating, advocacy and help for specialized populations.

This year, the United Way is celebrating National 211 Day by working to get every organization providing services in Madison County to update or include their services in the hotline. Miller says any nonprofit, a governmental or quasi-governmental organization with services for individuals, are likely to be qualified for a free listing.

Miller also encourages faith-based programs that provide benevolent programs locally to be part of 211. She says the 211 staff can work with organizations to limit the number of referrals to match the capacity and geographic areas of the county or region it serves.

“If you are a health and human service nonprofit please be on there because if people need your service and they can’t find you through the avenues that you’ve laid out as your agency, then we want to be that place that helps,” Miller stated. “There’s statistics that say if somebody Googles, asks friends, any of those things that we typically do when we need a recommendation, they could maybe have 6 or 7 inquiries before they actually get to an agency that can help. United Way and 211 cut that out.”

Agencies can submit or update their information on 211 using an online form provided by the United Way of Madison County.

People can contact 211 by simply dialing those three numbers and calling the hot line. There is also a way to text 211 by messaging your area code to “txt211” or 989-211. People can also chat with the helpline online on the United Way Website.