United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2-1-1 HelpLink connects people and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with the resources they need

Top caller needs include food, income and housing assistance

CLEVELAND, March 24, 2020 – United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2-1-1 HelpLink, a free and confidential 24/7 service, serves as an important resource for people in need across the community, including those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 3,000 calls handled each week across 14 counties.

Since the pandemic began, the top five resources that 2-1-1 HelpLink callers have requested assistance with include:

  1. Food and meal help
  2. Income support and assistance
  3. Housing
  4. Utility assistance
  5. Health Care

Callers can dial 2-1-1 from any phone to connect with a 2-1-1 HelpLink Navigator who works directly with them to understand their unique individual or family needs and make referrals to a wide range of available resources from food and shelter assistance to tax preparation services.

2-1-1 HelpLink Navigators help callers develop customized plans tailored to the urgency of their needs, proximity to resources, physical abilities and more using United Way’s Community Resource Database of more than 16,000 government, health and human services programs.

Since the pandemic began, 2-1-1 HelpLink has worked closely with service agencies to ensure accurate and up-to-date information is shared with all callers.

“2-1-1 HelpLink provides an important community service and now, more than ever, the 2-1-1 team stands ready to respond to and assist those in need of essential services such as food, shelter and employment assistance, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Augie Napoli, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland.

Last week, 2-1-1 HelpLink experienced double the call volume compared to the previous week. In light of expected, ongoing increases, callers may experience unusual hold times and are asked to please be patient as 2-1-1 HelpLink Navigators work to answer their call. Callers can also use the “Call Back” feature where they enter a virtual queue, disconnect from their phone to return to other activities and await a call back from 2-1-1 HelpLink once it is their turn.

“2-1-1 HelpLink simplifies the complex health and human services system for individuals and families unsure of where to seek and find help, handling more than 900 calls a day last week alone,” Napoli continued. “People who need help are only three numbers away from the resources they need with 2-1-1 HelpLink available 24/7 to assist during this crisis and beyond.”

United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2-1-1 HelpLink is committed to answering every call to ensure those in need receive essential resources during these unprecedented times.

Those who wish can also chat online with a 2-1-1 Navigator by visiting https://www.211oh.org/#.

United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2-1-1 HelpLink serves as a further resource for those looking to help the community through the COVID-19 pandemic by providing information on organizations in need of volunteers and how to donate to the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Relief Fund, a philanthropic, community-wide effort which is led by the Cleveland Foundation and includes United Way of Greater Cleveland.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, 2-1-1 HelpLink has also partnered with both the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the Cleveland Department of Public Health to establish the Coronavirus Helpline where 24/7 callers can dial 1-855-711-3035 to receive general information on COVID-19 and important contact information.

United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2-1-1 HelpLink serves seven counties in Ohio: Allen, Belmont, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lawrence, Medina and Ross.

United Way of Greater Cleveland has expanded its 2-1-1 Helplink support to include seven additional counties across Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic to help as many people as possible, including Coshocton, Crawford, Darke, Erie, Huron, Van Wert and Wyandot.


Founded in 1913, United Way of Greater Cleveland is a local, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty across the Greater Cleveland area. The largest private-sector investor of health and human services, United Way invests in efforts that address poverty using a two-pronged approach. The first prong focuses on the daily issues affecting those living in poverty, the Community Hub for Basic Needs. The second drives research and innovation through the Impact Institute, a think tank with an action plan, focused on identifying long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty. For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.unitedwaycleveland.org.           

Media contacts

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Savannah Heck