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Using technology to prevent water turn-off. CTA’s pilot program identifies and helps at-risk residents.

When most people think of Monterey County, they think of Carmel and Pebble Beach.  But for those who are trying to make a living, the day to day reality is not the picture of paradise you see in the tourist magazines. “Over 60% of families living in Monterey country are below self-sufficiency level and have to depend on assistance,” said Fatima Dias, Marketing Director of 2-1-1 Search United Way Monterey County. “The cost of living here is so high that a family of three needs to make over $60K, but if you’re a farm worker or a house keeper- our two biggest industries-  you’re making way less than $40K a year.”


 Monterey 2-1-1 is a local lifeline

For those at-risk households, Monterey 2-1-1 is a lifeline. Callers connect with a case manager who provides them with referrals to local health and human resources, staying on the line with them until they’ve made a “warm transfer”. Compared to other counties in the US that use a 2-1-1 system, Monterey 2-1-1 experiences a higher than average use: since they launched in 2009, they’ve successfully  connected callers with over 115K referrals for housing assistance, mental health services, job training, foodbanks and more.


Familiar with the power of partnerships

One reason why Monterey’s 2-1-1 system outperforms other 2-1-1 systems: outreach and partnerships with other organizations. “The community may be more familiar with us because we provide a lot of support and outreach during local emergencies,” said Dias. “We’re there to handle the critical but not life-threatening emergencies, like directing people to their nearest evacuation center. People know that they can call us and save 911 for the life-threatening emergencies.”


Connecting communities to the services they need most makes 2-1-1 Monterey a natural ally  

Recently, California American Water of Monterey contacted Monterey 2-1-1 to set up a program that would identify households at risk of having their water turned off. The utility company wanted to provide local customers with discounted rates if they’re financially challenged.  They’ll also provide direct cash subsidies to prevent the water from being turned off. They needed help with the identification of participants and the dispersal of the subsidy.

“One of the criteria the water company had was timeliness of notification,” said Ronn Rygg, Director of 2-1-1. “They wanted to know when people were within three days of shut off. CTA is developing software for us that will automatically screen for timeliness and that will send  an email sent to water company that they’re trying to remedy the situation and to put a 10 day hold on the shut off.”

Before CTA these would have been labor intensive activities.  Now, weekly reports are automatically sent out to see who has applied, funding is automated, and a multitude of referrals are generated through the data base.”

CTA’s technological tools will also allow 2-1-1 Monterey to automatically determine if the caller is eligible for Water District financial assistance and, ultimately, a myriad of other services.


CTA’s technology tools allows 2-1-1 Monterey to automatically:   

  • collect required client data in a digital survey
  • match clients to eligibility requirements for Water District financial assistance
  • add additional services and eligibility requirements
  • analyze and present data through CTA’s interactive reporting


Creating a complete picture: see exactly where health and human services are needed most

By creating an integrated file on clients, 2-1-1 Monterey will also have a more complete picture of service needs for residents of Monterey County.

Because CTA’s  technology tools are open-source, 2-1-1 is not locked in to any single proprietary system. This gives 2-1-1 Monterey the flexibility to build upon successful tools, add additional services, and determine eligibility requirements for those services.

“What I like about the partnership is that together we can achieve more.  I don’t want to  be in competition. CTA is helping us complement each other and magnify the results.”

The pilot program is still being developed, but 2-1-1 is already planning what’s next.  “We’re excited about the prospect of being proactive,” said Rygg.  “When callers answer a few questions, CTA’s software will  automatically query our database and see which of our 400+ agencies and government services can be of use. After screening our databases, we can get this critical info to the caller.

After 2-1-1 gathers data with CTA’s HOME app, they can analyze it with CTA’s Interactive Reporting.   “We’ll be able to see if one community is struggling more than another and use technology to address the needs in our community


Can technology turn the tide of homelessness?

Experiencing how CTA’s technology makes collaborations easier and more fruitful has whetted 2-1-1’s appetite for future collaborations. “We’d like to expand the intake form,” said Rygg, “so we can quickly tag people who are eligible for additional services, from free tax preparation to food for elders.”

“The issues of homelessness and housing can be mind boggling and overwhelming, which is why these partnerships have a lot of promise,” said Dias. “We can do something to help turn that tide.”


How are you using technology and collaboration to expand your impact?  Share your story about building partnerships in the fight against homelessness. Contact us.