ARCHER HEIGHTS — Chicagoans can now dial 2-1-1 for a one-stop shop of social services.
The call center will be manned 24/7 with “trained, empathetic resource navigators” who’ll connect people to food, housing, health care, transportation, child care, employment services, substance abuse recovery, utility bill help and disaster information, according to a city news release.
It’ll be operated by United Way of Metro Chicago as part of a partnership with the city and country. It’s being publicly and privately funded.
The program held a launch party Friday morning at the Food Depository’s home base, 4100 W. Ann Lurie Place, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, county Board President Toni Preckwinkle and nonprofit leaders.
“2-1-1 is about being able to help the moment that someone is experiencing a crisis and connect them to whatever they need,” Sean Garrett, president and CEO of the United Way of Metro Chicago, said during a news conference.
Food Depository spokesperson Jim Conwell said a quarter of respondents to surveys about food insecurity said they don’t receive help because they don’t know where to turn. The 2-1-1 program is a simple way to close the gap.
“Chicagoland has no shortage of bright minds and big hearts that are working to help their neighbors, every single day,” Conwell said. “This is going to be a one-stop shop to get those services to where they’re needed.”
Other major cities have already adopted 2-1-1 services, and Preckwinkle said starting up the line is “long overdue” in the Chicago area.
“It has immediate power and potential. Do you need assistance finding a meal this evening? Are you looking for transitional housing? Are you seeking assistance or help with your upcoming rent?” Preckwinkle said. “You dial three numbers.”
The line is completely free.
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