Press Release (ePRNews.com) - MEDFORD, Ore. - Jun 18, 2020 - Requests for rental assistance and food are on the rise in Jackson County with no sign of abating since COVID-19 showed up in the region. That’s according to 211info, a free, confidential referral and information service that connects area residents to local health and human services.
In March, 211info saw a 30% increase in web searches from the Medford region over the previous month. Since then, the nonprofit has fielded hundreds of calls from area residents hardest hit by the economic downturn. The greatest needs? Rent and housing assistance, food, and smoking cessation support.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to Carrie Prechtel, who spent three years serving as 211info’s Community Engagement Coordinator in Jackson and Josephine Counties. “Even before the pandemic, one in three renters in Jackson County were spending more than half their income on rent, leaving little margin for basic living expenses.”
Then COVID-19 showed up in the region and with it a stay-at-home order and statewide shutdowns to help slow the spread of the virus. In the first four weeks almost 9% of the Jackson County labor force filed for unemployment.
As to the increase in requests for smoking cessation support, Dan Herman, 211info’s Chief Executive Officer suspects it may have to do with concerns over the toll COVID-19 can take on even a healthy individual’s lungs. As Oregon Health Authority’s designated COVID-19 hotline for the state, 211info also serves as a central resource for area residents looking for information about the novel coronavirus, including symptoms to look for, where to receive care and how to get tested.
And even though 211info has been in the region for several years now, community members are likely to see more prominent reminders of the nonprofit’s presence. That’s because 211info recently launched an awareness campaign in Jackson County to ensure community members know where they can go for help to get their needs met.
Herman says the agency takes beloved television personality Mr. Rogers’ “Look for the helpers” mantra to heart: “At 211info we’re all about looking for the helpers — and all about connecting members of our community with that help for free. That’s why we work side-by-side with community partners to connect Jackson County residents with resources when they need them the most.”
211info works closely with a number of community partners in Jackson County including Head Start for Jackson County, Jackson County Continuum of Care, the City of Medford, United Way of Jackson County, ACCESS and Maslow Project, among others.
About 211info: 211info is a nonprofit organization funded by state and municipal contracts, foundations, United Ways, donations and community partners in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Learn more at 211info.org.