Albany, NY – New York State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Pete Harckham have introduced legislation that will formally recognize the state’s 2-1-1 helpline as a part of the state’s disaster emergency plan. The bill, A9526/S8553, would provide for the 2-1-1 helpline’s continuedactivation during an emergency to respond to non-emergency requests for assistance.
While initially developed to provide access to human services, the 2-1-1 helpline has proven to be an invaluable asset in disaster response and long-term recovery during snow and ice storms, flooding, and most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2-1-1 relieves 911 and other government agencies of calls for non-emergency assistance during and after a disaster.
Additionally, state legislators are working to include $3 million for 2-1-1 services in the State Budget, an increase of $1 million from last year. The investment would allow 2-1-1 to develop a statewide resource database of services, a centralized website to facilitate resource inquiries, and would provide reimbursements for activation in areas experiencing a disaster.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, “I cannot say enough about how valuable 2-1-1 is to our community and state. They respond to calls 24/7 providing referrals to a wide variety of services. We could never have gotten through the past two years without them. Now they need the recognition and security that comes with being an official part of the state’s emergency response plan.”
Senator Pete Harckhamsaid,“It is time for New York to realize the full capabilities of its 2-1-1 helpline as an information and communications tool outside of emergencies. This new legislation will set the 2-1-1 helpline up to make it the kind of resource residents can depend upon, where people can turn to for direction and guidance in regard to state services and various programs, accessing assistance and more.”
Kelly Dodd, 2-1-1 NYS Director said, “Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator Harckham have been leaders in recognizing the role 2-1-1 plays supporting New Yorkers when a disaster hits a community or family. Since March 2020, 2-1-1 has seen record numbers of calls and requests from New Yorkers seeking help as a result COVID-19. Whether it was applying for unemployment, requesting food delivery while in quarantine, applying for emergency rental assistance, or getting a vaccine appointment, 2-1-1 has answered the calls 24/7 across the state letting residents know help was there for them. Bill A9526/S8553 gives emergency planners another tool in their toolbox – 2-1-1 - as they prepare for the next disaster or emergency. The request for funding for 2-1-1 helps ensure that 2-1-1 continues to be there to answer New Yorkers’ calls every day.”
Candace Gregory, 2-1-1 Susquehanna River Region Director said, “We are grateful for the support from dedicated leaders, including Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator Harckham, who see the value and need for 2-1-1. The introduced legislation further promotes the work of 2-1-1 in response to emergency and natural disasters. Inclusion of 2-1-1 on the Disaster Preparedness Commission will allow the network to be activated whenever a state disaster emergency is declared.The 2-1-1 system is a critically important resource that alleviates strain on 911 and will make a major difference during difficult times.Funds directed to 2-1-1 are truly a positive 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.”
2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Dial 2-1-1 or visit helpme211.org.