It helps tens of thousands of people every year desperately seeking help with everything from food to shelter. But Louisiana state lawmakers down in Baton Rouge could soon consider axing Louisiana's 211 System. Now, there's a campaign underway to make sure 211 survives.
Keeping the flame burning is just one of the many challenges that Centerpoint helps people overcome. You may know Centerpoint as 2-1-1, the call-in service that matches clients with social service agencies that can help with everything from utility bills to housing.
But down in Baton Rouge, one idea now in a house committee would effectively kill 2-1-1 funding. "We're talking about direct services to a population who already hasn't the resources to be independent," explained Centerpoint Director Terri Brock.
Brock said a proposal to no longer dole out 750-thousand dollars for 211 is included in one of three proposed budgets requested from the House Committee on Health and Welfare. Brock argued that such a move would immediately begin to affect lives. "We cut this out, they have no rent, they have no food, they have no prescription assistance. All of those programs that are accessed through the 211 Information Referral."
Brock said an all-out campaign is underway to save 211. "We get everybody to call and write their representatives on the House Committee on Health and Welfare and say you can't do this." In Shreveport, that happens to be freshman State Represenative Patrick Williams, the same man who spent 12-days walking to Baton Rouge in March to promote workforce development.
We called St. Rep. Williams Wednesday afternoon to get his thoughts on the issue. But Williams told us he'll need time before he can make a statement because he didn't know about 2-1-1... Or the plan to cut it.
As for Brock, she also expressed frustration that in a year when state lawmakers are dealing with a billion dollar surplus that the LA Department of Social Services is seeing deep cuts and could see more.