Some New York State lawmakers are noticing a simple, 3-digit phone number intended to help connect people with human services and answer questions about everything from food assistance to how to find a non-profit to donate your old sofa to, has become an essential emergency resource.

Kathy Whyte. WNBF News
Kathy Whyte. WNBF News
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Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) and New York State Senator Pete Harckham, a Democrat from the Hudson Valley, have introduced legislation to recognize the state’s 2-1-1 helpline as a part of the state’s disaster emergency plan.

Lupardo says in wake of the COVID-19 health crisis, ”We could never have gotten through the past two years without them.”

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During the height of the pandemic and lockdown, 2-1-1 was dialed more than ever and operators asked for help in finding people to deliver food and medicine for people in quarantine, information on vaccination and testing and help when many were locked in when a historic snow storm hit the region at the end of December, 2020.

The Democrats are also working to include $3-million for 2-1-1 services in the New York State Budget. That would be an increase of one-million-dollars from last year and allow the service to develop a statewide database of resources, a central website to help answer inquiries and allow for reimbursements for costs incurred during an emergency.

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