211 provides resources for families on brink of homelessness - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

211 provides resources for families on brink of homelessness

Linda and Eric Sorensen (Image: Hawaii News Now) Linda and Eric Sorensen (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Jay King of Aloha United Way (Image: Hawaii News Now) Jay King of Aloha United Way (Image: Hawaii News Now)

Six months ago life in the Sorensen house began to spiral out of control. Eric was diagnosed with stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver and the extra money he made to supplement their social security stopped coming in. Now there's not enough for rent.

"We can't afford to buy toilet paper. Paper towels. I've got stacks of doctor bills I can't pay. I'm scared. I'm frightened," said Linda Sorensen.

Since April the 211 call center has helped nearly 500 households statewide. Like the Sorensens, 75 percent were in need of rental assistance. But the help doesn't stop there.

"We try to assess what's available to them that they haven't accessed yet. Things that can lower their expenses per month," said Jay King, Aloha United Way.

Benefits like food stamps: Statewide there are more than 100,000 people who are eligible for the program but aren't signed up. 94-percent of people who qualify for a free phone through the Federal Lifeline program don't have one. Another under utilized resource is a disability bus pass. The cost: $30/year.
211 can also point you in the right direction in terms of medical needs.

"Is that ok honey," said Linda Sorensen.

Monday morning Linda tried to make her husband as comfortable as possible.

"What stands out to me here is a potential hospice situation. Hospice care can really render so much support to the family. Giving the wife a break in assistance. Medical transport services," said King.

The  211 hotline has the ability to connect people with a wealth of information but for the program to work King says you have to be diligent and follow through with those referrals.

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