SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Phones have been ringing off the hook around the Bay Area, as more and more people are using the 211 community information service. The help line is supported by the Contra Costa Crisis Center, Eden I&R Inc, and United Way.

With more people falling on hard times, 211 Bay Area providers reported that they received over 218,000 calls in 2010, a 6 percent jump from the previous year.

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KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

Contra Costa Crisis Center Executive Director John Bateson said 34,000 people called 211 in his county last year seeking help.

“The calls are answered 24-7 by live operators who are familiar with local resources in the community and can assess their needs thoroughly,” said Bateson.

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In Alameda County, over 93,000 turned to 211. Eden I&R Executive Director Barbara Bernstein said her 211 call center is a starting point for people in trouble.

“This is the first number that people should call. What we’re trying to do is make it easy for people to access the resources that they need,” Bernstein said.

211 calls requesting basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, were up 12 percent from 2009.

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