The NYS Legislature awarded $2.4 million to the state’s 211 Helpline network, operated by local United Ways, to ensure that these community resource centers continue to connect individuals with health and human service needs to the right resources. The number of inquiries in 2021 was up 153% over 2019. Senator Peter Harckham (District 40), who represents communities in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties, sponsored the bill into the budget.
“211 is the ultimate example of shared services and public-private partnerships,” said Sen. Harckham. “It is a good investment of public dollars to make sure that someone is there to assist those in need to find the government services and nonprofit assistance available. COVID and other recent natural disasters, such as the flooding caused by Hurricane Ida, also showed how important 211 is to local and state governments for responding to disasters and emergencies.”
The $2.4 million award was a $400,000 increase over its allocation in the ‘22 NYS Budget. The increased funding will expand 211’s texting capability statewide, support 211 activations in areas experiencing a disaster and include 211 in NYS’ emergency plan, clarifying communication, messaging, and activation. The NYS 211 Network matches the legislative appropriation with $5.3 million in local grants, contracts, and fee for services agreements, including $1.3 million in local United Way investment.
“With $2.4M in state support, we will be able to be a resource for people in need every day of the year, every hour of the day,” said Hugh Perry, President of the United Way of New York State. “We will also continue our ongoing efforts to make 211 easy to use and by those seeking help.”
“This funding will help 211 community resource centers throughout the state meet the demand from those asking for food, mortgage, and rent assistance, or other basic needs, as the state deals with high inflation, food supply shortages, and eviction crisis,” said Tom Gabriel, President and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam, which operates the 211 Hudson Valley & Long Island community resource center from its White Plains location. “We thank Sen. Harckham, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi for advocating for the funds and the legislative support of all the Senate and Assembly members.” United Way’s 211 Helpline has nationally certified community resource specialists trained to answer questions and provide referrals for the health and human service needs 24/7, 365 days a year, in 200 languages. For help in the Hudson Valley, an individual can dial 211, text their zip code to 898211, or visit 211hudsonvalley.org.