PORTLAND, Ore. -- With frigid temperatures and people living on the streets, the 211 call center that serves Multnomah County is extremely busy, fielding more than 600 calls per day. And wait times on hold and a robust automated system is leading to frustrations for some callers.
JD Smith said he tried to call 211 to get help for a man living on the sidewalk on Hayden Island, but couldn't get through after 20 minutes late Wednesday night. He feels the system let him down.
"No, didn't talk to anybody; get another recording, hit this button; get another recording. I got nobody," said Smith.
211 managers said the average wait time is about two minutes, but depending on call volume can run longer. They ask for patience at very busy times like this, and ask people to communicate with them in other ways if they can't navigate or wait for a live voice on the phone system.
"If you don't have the capacity to wait on hold we encourage you again to go to our website, to text us and look for information," said Emily Berndt.
You can also email the 211 center; all the contact information is one the Multnomah County 211 website. And remember, in emergency situations, call 911.