Over the past two years, as the economy spiraled downward we’ve witnessed a steady rise in the number of calls for assistance to United Way 2-1-1. It truly is a real-time barometer of community need, which makes June’s record-shattering call volume all the more disturbing.
More than 15,410 people sought help in June – the highest ever in Central Florida’s 2-1-1 history – and even higher than the number of calls received following the 2004 hurricanes. Seventy-four percent were first-time callers and 45% were unemployed.
We’ve all seen the headlines about unemployment benefits ending. With jobs still scarce, people who’ve barely managed to hang on can no longer afford to feed their children or keep a roof over their heads. Reflecting this, nearly 60% of June callers requested assistance with housing and paying for utilities.
People want to work, but jobs just aren’t returning. Worse yet, with growth and construction lagging, Central Florida’s hiring outlook is expected to remain flat for the next several years. In the meantime, those in the local nonprofit sector are preparing for a new tsunami of need. Judging from the latest 2-1-1 stats, it looks like it’s already begun. Click here for more info and to view the June 2-1-1 report.