11/10/2005Information on New York City Nonprofits Services Will be Available From the 3-1-1 Citizen Service Center Within One Year
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Gino Menchini, Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Verna Eggleston and United Way of New York City (UWNYC) President and CEO Lawrence Mandell today announced the kickoff of a major initiative to enhance the City’s 3-1-1 Citizen Service Center to provide information on social services provided by nonprofit groups. This new initiative will make it easier for New Yorkers to navigate the maze of nonprofit services in New York City much the way 3-1-1 has made it simple for New Yorkers to connect with their government. New York City is currently home to thousands of nonprofit organizations that help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every year. Many nonprofits provide vital services but have not been part of the City’s referral network. These services are often difficult to access, especially for those that need those services the most. This project, a joint effort between New York City and the United Way of New York City, will address that problem. The Mayor set an aggressive timetable of having the new integrated system in place within one year.
“During the past two and half years, New Yorkers have grown to rely on 3-1-1 to provide them with one stop access to government information and services,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This major expansion of the 3-1-1 system will allow us to provide information and referral assistance to New Yorkers on the City’s vast network of City agencies, non-profit providers, community based organizations and religious organizations, making it even easier for us to help those most in need.”
“Since its inception 3-1-1 has handled more than 26 million calls” said DoITT Commissioner Gino Menchini. “In the past two and a half years we have learned a lot about the needs of our callers. One such need was to connect individuals and families to services beyond what the City directly provides. That’s the value of 3-1-1, and now with the Mayor’s and the United Way’s commitment we can leverage 3-1-1 to build a system that will serve the neediest New Yorkers even more.”
“When an individual or a family is in crisis, they should be able to make one call, and that call should lead them to the service that they need whether it comes from a City agency or a non-profit organization,” said HRA Commissioner Verna Eggleston. “As our experience with the One Client, One City, One Plan approach has taught us, expansion of 3-1-1 will help us meet our clients where they are.”
“Every hour of every day New Yorkers need essential services – from finding quality care for a child or an aging parent to securing employment training. Unfortunately, too often people aren’t sure where to turn, and therefore go without,” said Lawrence Mandell, UWNYC President & CEO. “We are very pleased to put our in-depth working knowledge of the city’s nonprofit sector to such practical use. Our 3-1-1 partnership with DoITT and HRA will go a long way in providing all New Yorkers with one-stop access to vital services.”
A database maintained by the United Way of New York City lists more than 2,500 non-profit health and human services agencies, operating more than 15,000 programs from more than 7,200 sites. Currently, 3-1-1 limits the human services information it provides to areas where the City is the direct service provider, or where it has contracts with vendors to provide services. During the next year, the City and the United Way will partner to enhance 3-1-1’s service offering to include comprehensive information on services provided by community based organizations and not-for-profit providers. This new capability will make it easier for New Yorkers to connect to the broad range of services these valuable partners provide in their local communities.
The new service will even provide basic screening capabilities so that New Yorkers can learn about programs and services that they would otherwise be unaware they were eligible for. For instance, a caller inquiring about food stamps may typically only know to ask for one specific need – food stamps. When the new system is in place, screening by a trained call taker might identify that the same caller is also eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, housing assistance, job placement and services provided by nonprofit groups.
Since 311 began on March 9, 2003, it has received over 26 million phone calls. All calls are answered by a live operator, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The average time it takes to speak to a live operator is 4 seconds and 98% of the calls are answered within 30 seconds. 311 provides translation services in over 170 languages and receives an average of 43,000 calls per day.
United Way of New York City (UWNYC) is a local nonprofit that creates, leads and supports programs to help low-income New Yorkers become and remain self-sufficient. UWNYC identifies precise needs within five specific areas: homelessness prevention; access to health care; education; economic independence; and strengthening NYC nonprofits. They bring together partners and resources to develop and execute strategies that tackle the root causes of these problem areas and set goals, measuring and reporting progress to donors. UWNYC is governed by volunteers and independently operated. For more information on UWNYC, please visit http://www.unitedwaynyc.org.
Edward Skyler / Jonathan Werbell