2-1-1 New York Fact Sheet

What is 2-1-1?

2-1-1 is the single, easytoremember phone number for people in need to call across the country. With about 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States plus hundreds of government agencies, finding health and human services help can be confusing and intimidating.

Service Statistics

Calls - In NYS in 2017, just under 2 million calls and 842 text based contacts were handled by 2-1-1 contact centers.

Data Base – The 2-1-1 data bases are the largest in the state on nonprofit and government human services, with nearly 69,000 programs and over 29,000 organizations.

Web Access – The 2-1-1 data bases are available at all times on the web and they are used by millions of people each year who prefer to search for services on their own. Web visits totaled 18.6 million in 2017.

Current Coverage

  • 2-1-1 call services are now available across NYS.
  • 2-1-1 call services are also now available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to all New Yorkers.
  • 2-1-1 web site searchable listings of services are also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A Trained Response

2-1-1 contact centers are staffed by trained specialists who quickly assess the callers’ needs and refer them to the help they need. 2-1-1 services are free, confidential, and accessible to everyone through multilingual capabilities.

A Public Private Partnership

2-1-1 is a public private partnership, with support from the State of New York, the City of New York, several local United Ways, many partner nonprofits, and several agencies of local government. All contribute monetarily to the service.

A Partner in Disaster Response

While initially developed to access human services day-to-day, 2-1-1 has proven critical in disaster response and long-term recovery: snow and ice storms, flooding as well as Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Super Storm Sandy.  

The New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) web page for Individual Assistance refers users to 2-1-1.

A Complement to 911

2-1-1 complements 911 by filling the gap between emergencies and urgent non-public-safety needs, like food and shelter.  2-1-1 helps relieve the burden of non-emergency calls on 911 and saves callers time by providing guidance and appropriate referrals to organizations that can meet the callers’ needs.

Benefits of 2-1-1

  • Simplifies access for the consumer
  • Government and service providers can utilize their time providing services rather than redirecting inappropriate inquiries, increasing efficiency and effectiveness.  The NYS Multiple Systems Navigator lists 2-1-1 as a resource.
  • Legislators and their staff have a ready source of information to address constituent concerns (either by calling 2-1-1 or utilizing the 2-1-1 web site of services).
  • Through 2-1-1 Counts, communities can pinpoint areas of need and address gaps in service.
  • The 2-1-1 system helps people connect with education and training opportunities and find the means of addressing substance-abuse, child-care, and other issues that may be preventing their entry into the workforce
  • 2-1-1 Saves Money.  2-1-1 can provide cost savings through a reduction in 800 numbers used to reach nonprofits and state agencies. Also, the links to studies below document millions of dollars in savings to governments and/or services to the public as a result of 2-1-1.


The 2-1-1 Story



The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set aside 2-1-1 as the national number to use for health and human services information and referral in 1999. United Way and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) are charged with the management of 2-1-1 nationally.

Subsequently New York’s Public Service Commission assigned the number to 2-1-1 New York to develop the service on a state-wide basis.

Governance and Oversight

At the state-wide level, 211 New York Inc. is a charitable subsidiary of United Way of New York State and is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization.  The 211 New York Board provides oversight to the ten 2-1-1 regions, serves as the fiscal agent for state funding, promotes continuous communication and best practice sharing among the regions, and facilitates relationships with government agencies and other stakeholders.

Each 2-1-1 region is managed by a lead organization. These are all legally incorporated 501(c)3 nonprofits (or in NYC, the City of New York itself), which have overall fiscal and operational responsibility for 2-1-1 in that region.

Quality Assurance

2-1-1 services generally follow the national and state standards for information and referral, commonly referred to as AIRS (Alliance of Information and Referral Systems) standards.  These standards address service delivery, resource data bases, reporting and measurement, cooperative relationships, disaster preparedness and organizational effectiveness.

Local lead organizations operating 2-1-1 in each region are reviewed by 2-1-1 New York, Inc. and provide regular reports. In NYC, 2-1-1 is co-located with the Mayor’s 311 system and falls under several additional City review and management processes.

Contact Center Coverage

The ten 2-1-1 regions in NYS utilize a resilient network of eight contact centers across the state, with some contact centers serving multiple regions. The centers have the capacity to provide back up for one another in times of emergency events.