211 telephone help line could have summer startup in Placer County

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A drive to bring the 211 phone service to Placer County could have funding in place by the summer to start operating, organizers say.

Community Link Capital Region is targeting July as the possible start-up month, said Bev Anderson, chairwoman of the Placer 211 steering committee.

The 211 call-in service estimates it can operate its first year with a budget of $149,000 and Anderson said that about two-thirds of that amount has been raised.

This week, the fundraising drive was bolstered by a $7,200 donation from the Teichert Foundation. Fred Teichert said that he sees the need for the service in Placer County as a board member on the Sacramento 211 community advisory committee.

Funds have also been received from the Auburn Kiwanis, Auburn Presbyterian Church, Placer People of Faith Together and the county Board of Supervisors revenue sharing fund, as recommended by Supervisor Jim Holmes.

Placer County is the most populous county in California that has not established a 211 program, Anderson said.

“In California, 92 percent of the population is connected,” Anderson said. “In our area of Northern California, Sacramento County has had 211 since 2008, Nevada County has had it since 2010 and Yolo County recently connected.”

While 911 handles immediate, often life-threatening situations, 211 is used to connect people to a wide array of community services.

Marjene Streeper, director of 211 Sacramento, said that the top three needs callers regularly want to know more about are housing, food and utility assistance. With tax season coming up, the Sacramento line is receiving most of its inquiries at this time of year on income tax assistance, she said.

The list of services a 211 line can help with includes health care, child care, veterans services, public transportation, donating food and clothing, substance abuse and legal issues.

Anderson said that as well as funding, the nonprofit group will be seeking approval from the California Public Utilities Commission. Their approval is needed before phone lines are allowed  to use the 211 number in Placer County.