By Corey Allen-Young
Channel 2 News
5:41 AM AKST, February 12, 2013
Many Alaskans need a little help paying bills, things like rent, electricity or food assistance. The United Way of Anchorage says through their 211 statewide phone referral system, one-third of their calls were for those basic needs.
It's active listening at its finest. With Alaska's 211 statewide health and human service phone system, specialists figure out what Alaskans need and get them to the right people that can help them.
“It's through a series of questions, and there's such value in that because we all know when somebody needs help or they are under stress, they may not be thinking of the full picture,” said Sue Brogan of the United Way of Anchorage.
It’s an average of 100 to 150 phone calls per day that sends individuals and families to places like Lutheran Social Services, which gives them the assistance they need.
A big deal for Nena Nicholson, her boyfriend, and their son and daughter who received rent assistance. "They (Lutheran Social Services of Alaska) are helping us with a place,” Nicholson said.
“To me it’s just a really big help, we are not living out in the cold,” said Nicholson, whose family had a tough winter and after coming from Dillingham faced the possibility of living on the streets.
“We were able to help with rental assistance moving the family from a hotel into Safe Harbor, and they are on a list to get a place at Neighborworks,” said Alan Budahl, who is the executive director of Lutheran Social Services of Alaska. “It's one less family that's homeless. This January and this first part of February here, we received so many requests for rental and utility assistance.”
It’s a reason the United Way of Anchorage is being proactive with 211. They want to make sure requests coming in, can be met.
“We’re looking at what's going on with affordable housing,” said Brogan.
“If it wasn't for these guys, I’m sure me and my family would be out on the road or in my car by next week,” said Nicholson who is thankful the networking system is around.
As part of 211's growth, the United Way of Anchorage says they are going to Alaskan communities and finding out what resources aren't available so they can fill the gaps.
One example is this recent Walk For Warmth event that took place on Saturday. The event raised $30,000, which will be used for rent and utility assistance.
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