Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the expansion of New York City's 311 Customer Service Center to provide information and referrals about social services, creating a simple entry-point for New Yorkers seeking social services. Beginning in May, New Yorkers will have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to a team of 30 specially-trained operators dedicated to helping callers with social service-related requests in what is now the nation's largest social service information and referral call center. The mayor also launched a seven-language public outreach campaign, which highlights the expanded services New Yorkers are now able to learn about -- now they can "311 it."
The mayor was joined at the 311 Customer Service Center in Lower Manhattan by representatives from the United Way, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Human Resources Administration among others.
"New York is lucky to have the largest network of non-profit health and human services agencies anywhere. But sometimes the very size of this network can make it difficult to connect to the services you need, and all too often the information you need is only available during business hours. We're working to change all that," said Mayor Bloomberg. "One of the great benefits of 311 is that it's available all the time -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And if it can be such a useful and powerful tool in repairing potholes and fixing traffic lights, it could do an equally effective job helping people in need. We want that to be true for all the social service-related requests we get, too."
"This complement to 311 continues to target some of the city's most at-risk populations of children under age 5, disconnected youth and the working poor, as identified by the Center for Economic Opportunity," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs. "Thirty call takers are specially trained to handle complex health and human services issues, and will respond to inquiries, as well as make the referrals to the appropriate city agency or one of our many community-based partners."
New York City has created a unique model for social service information and referral, which in many other jurisdictions across the country is being developed through the 211 dialing code. Nearly 1,000 unique social services and 1,300 non-profit organizations are accessible every hour of every day by calling 311. Starting in May, callers seeking social services information and referral will be able to get this information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The expanded social services enhancements were developed based upon the areas of priority as identified by the City's Center for Economic Opportunity, which Mayor Bloomberg created to develop and implement innovative ways to reduce poverty in New York City.
Mayor Bloomberg also unveiled a public outreach campaign, which highlights the new, expanded services New Yorkers are now able to learn about, but can also access them by calling 311. The campaign will feature the familiar 311 logo, introduce a new 311 tagline: "Your city. Your needs. Your number," and tell New Yorkers they can, for example:
The new black and yellow ads, designed by NYC & Company, will appear in English, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish, and will be displayed in bus shelters, on subways, street banners, and in other locations throughout the city. While most of the examples of what 311 can do appear in multiple languages, social programs like accessing immigration and naturalization services that are predominantly used by immigrants appear more often in the non-English ads.