United Way raises awareness about free 211 phone service

United Way raises awareness about free 211 phone service

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - This week, United Way is raising awareness about their free, 24/7 phone service.

“It’s a simple phone number that will connect you to an information and referral service that United Way offers in Southwest Louisiana," Denise Durel, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Louisiana, said. “We’ve actually answered 28,000 calls just in Southwest Louisiana. We average a little over 9,000 calls per year.”

Durel said she hopes more people take advantage of the line.

“We also wanted to make sure that this service is 24/7 365. I know when I’m in a panic I want answers now," Durel said. "I didn’t want people to have to wait until Monday morning to say ‘oh my goodness what are we gonna do? I was sick and couldn’t work and now I can’t pay rent this month.’ We realize there are families in this region where it’s that tight.”

Along with food insecurity, Durel said affordable housing is one of the top reasons people call 211.

“Affordable housing. It’s a million dollar question, you know? How are we going to deal with it here? We really do have an affordable housing issue," Durel said. “We just try to direct them to get them through that weave. Whether it’s section 8 or we know of landlords who will offer reduced rates. We also connect them to the agencies that will help supplement that rental income. Or help them pay maybe their deposit so down the road they’ll have money for their rent."

You can also text United Way for these referrals at 898-211.

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