Recent changes in the way calls are routed via 211, a help line funded by United Way organizations across the region to provide referrals to local community services, may be causing confusion and some frustration for citizens calling into the service from outside Knox County.


The 211 service is administered by the City of Knoxville’s 311 Call Center, in partnership with CAC’s Office on Aging and the United Way of East Tennessee.


An old 866 number that was used when calls were answered in Nashville has been disconnected and replaced with a local number. However, some carriers may be behind in updating their programing that sends callers using the three-digit 211 number to the call center. Some callers may be getting a recording that the number is no longer in service.


“Let me assure you, the number is in service,” said Russ Jensen, the City’s 311 Director. “The call routing is simple programming, but sometimes it takes a while for the many different phone service carriers to catch up. We are working to find a speedy solution and continue to field calls and provide assistance and referrals to people in need.”


If people find they can’t get through to the Call Center using the three-digit (211) number, they can call 865-215-4211 to receive the same service. In addition, calls should be made to local carriers to report trouble using the three-digit number. Dial 611 for general repair with local phone companies to solve the routing issue.


The 211 database includes more than 2,000 names and contact numbers for governmental and nonprofit agencies throughout the 865 area code, as well as in Monroe County. In all, residents in 10 counties have access to the service.