NJ 211, which has existed in the state since 2005, is a nationally accredited statewide nonprofit that connects people in need of health and human services with community resources that can help them.

NJ 211 Executive Director Melissa Acree said there are two components to the simple three-digit dialing code.

The first component features an online searchable resource database found at www.nj211.org which people can use to self-serve to find resources such as food, housing, and utility assistance.

She said law enforcement, guidance counselors and social workers use the resource database as well.

The second component is live assistance 24/7. Acree said anyone can call 211 and someone who is trained to assess their needs and find the right resources can provide that service.

It's not just via phone. It's through text and chat, as well.

NJ 211 is for anyone, young or old, married or single, facing a personal situation or even a crisis.

"They need some help paying their bills, their utility assistance, their rental assistance. They need health care coverage and they're not sure where to start," Acree said.

Someone may have been recently diagnosed with an illness or there was a death in the family. They're not sure where to get help. But NJ 211 can point them in the right direction.

The majority of people who contact NJ 211 often fall in the low-income bracket because they're eligible for more programs. But Acree said 211 is designed for all residents of the state when they may come across a situation where they need help.

NJ 211 also plays a special role during times of disaster. Acree said it steps up to serve the state of New Jersey as an information referral before a crisis such as a hurricane. During COVID, NJ 211 stepped up to give people an easy way to stay tuned and communicate to them, about the different resources and safety protocols in place.

Acree said the 211 service alone is projected to handle about 75,000 calls this year, compared to 68,000 last year.

"But keep in mind that NJ 211 overall handles about 300,000 calls a year because we also serve as the utility assistance hotline, and the state homeless hotline and we have an addiction hotline. So, we have other lines of service to help the residents of New Jersey," Acree said.

For more information about 211, or to download materials or subscribe to its quarterly, newsletter, visit here.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

9 things New Jersey would rather ban than plastic bags


More From Beach Radio