CINCINNATI (Feb. 8, 2023) — Larry is a 65-year-old Army veteran who lost a leg in 2004 after being struck by a drunk driver. In 2019 he suffered a stroke. Because of his disability, he does not work. But his wife does, and the couple made a habit of paying their bills on time.
“We weren’t accustomed to being behind on anything,” Larry said.
But then the car his wife drives to work needed major repairs. And their rent increased substantially when their apartment building changed ownership. Soon, the couple fell behind on rent payments.
They heard about 513Relief, a rent and utility relief program that helps connect Hamilton County residents to federal, state and local resources. With help from a niece, they applied for rent assistance. But after two months, they’d heard nothing. They were falling further behind.
Someone suggested they contact United Way.
The organization has made a substantial investment in its 211 Helpline. Trained call specialists and care coordinators assess callers’ needs and then make use of United Way’s extensive, up-to-date database of local providers to connect callers to essential community resources. Care coordinators also are trained to help callers with applications for rent, mortgage and utility relief.
“211 has been vital to our customers,” said Lynne Riehle of Hamilton County Job & Family Services. Her duties include overseeing the Hamilton County Emergency Mortgage, Rental and Utility Assistance Program.
“We have huge caseloads,” Riehle said, “and once we got to a case, we sent out a checklist (to applicants and landlords) to get all the needed documents.” That often resulted in long delays.
“211 takes a lot of that load for us, helping gather those documents. So, we have what we need when we need it.”
Riehle said 211 also fills a valuable customer service role. “211 is vital in giving people access to information and answering questions. That's a huge help for us and for customers.”
Larry connected with two members of United Way’s 211 Care Coordination team, Rickie and Maddy.
“Rickie acted like I was his brother or his dad,” Larry said. “He went above and beyond. I didn’t even have to call my landlord. The landlord called me and said a man from United Way got in touch with her about the needed paperwork.
“Maddy treated me with respect. I’m older, but I’m not used to being called ‘sir.’ She was so respectful and helpful. She told me what (documents) I needed to bring over there, and she made copies and explained everything she was doing for me.”
Today, thanks to the Care Coordination team’s help, Larry and his wife are current with their rent.
“I’m not used to people helping me,” Larry said. “What you guys did was such a blessing. My wife and I were like, ‘They really did it!’ You have some good people working for you.”
United Way of Greater Cincinnati is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization [Tax ID: 31-0537502]. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.