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Lupardo praises 211 hotline bill signing, calls for funding to be included in governor's budget

Vaughn Golden
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation sponsored by Broome County Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (right) adding the 211 NYS chief professional to the Disaster Preparedness Commission.

Broome County Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo joined officials with the United Way of Broome County this week to celebrate Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signing of legislation to improve disaster coordination through the 211 program.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo sponsored the legislation. It requires coordinators of 211 hotlines, which direct people to social services like housing support and other public programs, to be involved in disaster coordination.

"So, we want to try to get the word out, not just about this bill signing, but in general,” Lupardo said. “I can't say it enough, how important this service is. A day does not go by in my office, just yesterday when I heard someone on staff referring to 211 over a homelessness issue. So they're here and we're very very grateful."

While the program operates 24/7, the hotlines are heavily utilized during disasters. The United Way of Broome County operates 211 locally. Its director said they received over 12,000 calls during the 2011 floods and over 30,000 calls related to COVID-19.

“The addition of the 211 NYS chief professional to the Disaster Preparedness Commission, allows a network and statewide approach to disaster preparedness and response,” Paula Perna, executive director of United Way of Broome County said.

Lupardo said she hopes the governor will include funding for the program in her executive budget proposal next year. The state currently contributes $2.4 million to the program, but that’s been the result of pressure from legislators during budget negotiations.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.