'It's hell being poor. It's hell living on less than $800 a month' Residents frustrated after calling 211

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Just hours after the city of Houston and Harris County launched its relief fund, it was reported to be having unintended consequences such as residents getting nowhere when calling for help.

"You tell me you have all these funds, but I get nowhere," said Relonda Green.

Green was on the verge of tears when ABC13 showed up at her apartment. She, like many others, has been in search of clean water and food and has tried every number she can think of.

SEE ALSO: Houston relief fund on the way in wake of historic winter storm


"They tell me I can go to these sites [that are] giving away water, but how do you get there if you don't have a car and you're in a wheelchair?" Green said.

Green said she has been trying 211, hoping to get help there to no avail.

"[It's] not getting through, and it hangs up after that," she said.

Out of water and food, Green called Action13.

"This is too stressful," she said. "What do they want us to do?"

United Way of Greater Houston, which handles 211, told ABC13 they were inundated with calls largely as a result of the mayor announcing the Houston Harris County Winter Storm Relief Fund. Those particular funds have yet to be distributed because fundraising is still underway.

The nonprofit organization issued the following statement:

"The 211 Texas/United Way HELPLINE answers calls from our community 24/7/365 days a year. During times of high demand, like the current aftermath of the winter storm, we increase the staffing of 211 call specialists. When there is unprecedented need like this, we can experience surges in call volume that cannot be handled at one time. We regret any inconvenience and ask callers to be patient and to please call us back. We want to connect as many individuals in need to the resources available as quickly as we can. Those with internet access can also go online and utilize our site to check for available resources.

For anyone calling specifically in regard to the Houston Harris County Winter Storm Relief Fund announced by Mayor Turner [Monday], the distribution of those funds has not yet begun as fundraising is underway. To learn about fund resources as they become available, text HoustonFreeze to 898211 or for Spanish, text HoustonAyuda to 898211 [TXT211 on iPhone]. As soon as assistance is available, individuals will be texted back with eligibility and application guidelines. Please note that all relief funds will be disbursed through area nonprofit organizations.

In the meantime, the 211 Texas/United Way HELPLINE is updated daily as resources become available. If you are calling for basic needs assistance, please continue to call back or check online.

We know this is a difficult time for so many in our community, so If you are in a position to help, please consider a gift to the Winter Storm Relief Fund.
"

"It's hell being poor. It's hell living on less than $800 a month," she said.

Green said she is about $71 away from being evicted, but adds that she will continue to call any organization that's willing to help get her through this tough time.

"Just a little help. I'm not asking for much. I'm not asking for much," she said.

Follow Mayra Moreno on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.