In mid-March 2020, amidst the economic dislocation created by the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic, a message popular on social media offered a handy phone number persons needing help with bills, rent, and food could call to connect them with a United Way COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund:
In case anyone needs this:
United Way has a COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund to help out those who need it. They will help with bills, rent, and food.
You can call 1-866-211-9966 and provide zip code and will be given a list of local agencies to provide assistance.
However, as the United Way of Freeborn County (MN) pointed out in a Facebook post, “The number listed is the direct line for Indiana 211, and the assistance it refers to is related to the United Way of Central Indiana’s COVID-19 fund. This specific assistance is not available for people outside Indianapolis”:
Rochester, Minnesota, radio station KROC also reported that although persons needing assistance finding food, paying housing bills, accessing free childcare, or other essential services due to the current pandemic may be able find such assistance by calling 211, the phone number given in the post displayed above is specific to central (or southwestern) Indiana:
The post that is circling the internet is for Central Indiana only with the phone number for the Indianapolis 2-1-1. I spoke with Emily Johnston from the Olmsted County United Way. She told me people are welcome to dial 2-1-1 here in Minnesota in order to figure out what resources are there for them. They can help with finding food, paying housing bills, or other essential services. As of right now, there is no Coronavirus response fund [here] yet but they are working on something.
The United Way supports 211, a free and confidential service available 24/7 that helps people across North America find local resources they need, including information and other help connected with the COVID-19 pandemic:
All 211 providers across the United States and Canada are operational and continue to connect people with services and resources in their local communities, including people who are in need of financial or other assistance as a result of lost wages from event cancellations, business closures, and quarantines.
Additionally, many 211s are working closely with state and local health officials to provide up-to-date information to the general public about the virus and outbreak. If you live in one of these states and have questions or need help related to COVID-19, you can call 211 or visit your local 211’s website.
However, 211 also cautions potential callers to be sure they are connecting with the proper local agency first, as not all of them are offering financial assistance:
PLEASE NOTE: If you hear that a United Way fund for financial assistance has been established in your area, consider finding your local United Way’s website to learn more about eligibility and application before reaching out to 211. Financial assistance is NOT available through every 211.