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Community Action Commission Relaunches 2-1-1 Social Services Helpline

After going dark for two years, the 2-1-1 Helpline has been relaunched by the Santa Barbara Community Action Commission.

The CAC took over the contract to provide the service in November 2014 after the Family Services Agency stopped running it, and is officially relaunching the phone line and website. 

"2-1-1 is an incredible resource connecting people to vital health, shelter and social services," Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said.

"I am pleased that CAC is taking the helm for this relaunch as they know the social safety net needs of the full county extremely well."

The 2-1-1 helpline offers a wealth of social services information, including resources on where to find housing, food and jobs. The line also offers help for people struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. 

"People can dial 2-1-1 when they need help with food, health care and counseling, and don't know where to turn," said Holly Carmody, director of central administrative services at CAC.

"All of us know to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency, but we want people to know what to do when your house isn't on fire, but you need help."

The CAC has been working over the last eight months to rebuild the resources in the 2-1-1 website, and is working with Interfaith, a Ventura organization that handles the calls.

The organization did a "data scrub" of the information to make sure that all of the resources listed were active and reachable, and have slowly been adding more contacts to serve the public.

"Right call we are getting about 400 calls a month," said Carmody, who expects the number to rise dramatically once word gets out that they have launched the service again.

Most of the calls come from Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria, Carmody said, typically from families earning less than $26,000 annually.

Tracy Lang Wood, director of family and youth services for the CAC, said her organization has grown the database of information by 14 percent since 2013, when it went dark.  

"People realized the value of this service when it went away," Lang Wood said. "Having centralized information and easy access for the public is very valuable. It helps individuals navigate the web of health and human services."

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said many injustices in the community don't rise to the level of a crime, but people face crises every day and many of them need help.

"2-1-1 helps people find counseling, safe shelter  and many other critical services," Dudley said.

"2-1-1 also links people to services that can help prevent crime, including drug abuse prevention, sober living homes, and drug treatment facilities."

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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