Unable to pay bills, callers flood hotline

January 5, 2009
Needy families responded en masse to the news that local charities received a $3.2 million infusion to help cover basic needs, according to a follow-up survey by Connect2Help.

The Community Economic Relief Fund was created by five leading Marion County foundations and divided among 45 charities. After the announcement Dec. 10, calls for help with rent and utilities deluged Connect2Help's central 2-1-1 line.

Connect2Help, which answers hotlines for a variety of state and local agencies, reported its daily call volume increased 96 percent over the prior year period after the announcement. The center fielded 6,595 calls between Dec. 10 and 16, up from 3,366 on those dates in 2007.

The most-requested type of aid was utilities, at 28 percent, followed by housing, 23 percent.

Most of the callers, 69 percent, were from Marion County; 9 percent were from just outside the county. A significant portion, 22 percent, came from outside central Indiana. The center fields calls statewide after-hours and on weekends, and news of the emergency relief fund reached far-flung counties.
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