On Friday July 31, local officials gathered at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens for the reopening of Santa Barbara’s 2-1-1 Helpline after it was silent for two years. The service was active from 2005 until 2013 and, in November 2014, became a program of the poverty alleviation nonprofit Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CAC). Currently, the service offers knowledge regarding a wide variety of subjects, as well as referrals to experts, 24/7 in 150 different languages.
At the relaunch, Supervisor Salud Carbajal spoke of the importance that this “lifeline” will have for those who are dealing with urgent issues just short of 9-1-1 emergencies.
Commenting on the service’s utility, Public Health Director Dr. Takashi Wada said,
“2-1-1 is really a tool that can enhance the health of the entire community, for individuals who need care to get connected to the care they need.”
Available, free, and confidential for every Santa Barbara County resident, 2-1-1 offers reliable guidance on housing and transportation issues, physical and mental health problems, substance abuse and legal troubles, and food security issues. The hotline links callers to over 2,000 programs in the Santa Barbara County database and offers online assistance at 211sbco.org. In a prepared statement, CAC said that 2-1-1 answers approximately 400 calls per month from mostly low-income residents of Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria.
Also at the reopening, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider described 2-1-1 as the “one stop” for information in Santa Barbara County “about everything that is happening right where you live.” Taking a holistic perspective on community aid, District Attorney Joyce Dudley spoke of the comfort the helpline will provide to those who call and find a caring person on the line. Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte expressed her gratitude for 2-1-1 and her confidence in the service now that it is under the CAC.