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NJ 211 Newsletter - Spring 2022

NJ 211 Partners to Implement a Closed Loop Referral System

Closed Loop


NJ 211 has connected New Jerseyans to life-saving health and human services for almost two decades. Our long history of providing information and referrals for food, housing, utility assistance, and more has addressed the social determinants of health (SDoH) since 2005. Each year individuals in need put their trust in our services, and in 2021 alone, we handled over 1.1 million connections for help. 

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services selected seven states for a seven-year project to improve health outcomes for children under 21. The goal of this project is to increase in-home medical and behavioral care, while reducing the number of children that need out-of-home placement for care. This is accomplished through prevention, early identification, and treatment of priority health concerns like behavioral health challenges, physical health needs, and social challenges. The New Jersey Integrated Care for Kids (NJ InCK), is led by Hackensack Meridian Health, along with two co-leads: the Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey (VNA) and New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI). NJ 211 was selected to provide our nationally accredited resource database. In addition, through our partner, Open City Labs and their technology, NJ 211 is providing the closed loop referral solution.

We are delighted to contribute our expertise while collaborating with private, nonprofit, and government entities that together can help healthcare providers meet their patients’ medical and social needs as they work towards providing care in the least restrictive environment. To learn more about the program, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.


Water Assistance Program Available!

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many New Jerseyans to fall behind on their utility bills, and while there are programs available to assist with heating and cooling bills, water bills are generally much less costly, leaving them to fall to the wayside. 

With the looming moratorium expiration and the accumulation in consumer water and wastewater bills, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) launched the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program with NJ 211. Together, they aim to educate consumers about the LIHWAP program and assist low-income families with applying for assistance. "This is a wonderful opportunity to expand an already strong partnership and get many of our callers connected with help," Melissa Acree, NJ 211's executive director, explains. The program provides funds to reduce the balances on struggling New Jerseyan's water and wastewater bills. Since the application period opened six weeks ago, NJ 211 has handled over 3,800 requests.

Woman and child washing hands

Households interested in applying for the federally funded program must be responsible for their own water and sewer costs and have a gross income that falls at or below 60% of the NJ State Median Income level. Funds are provided directly to the water and wastewater companies on behalf of the residential customer. For more information and application instructions, visit LIHWAP.

Maximum Monthly Gross Income Eligibility Guidelines

Household Size

LIHWAP Program

























For each additional person

add $193

Source: DCA 2/25/22


National Accreditation Status Continues

Airs New Logo


AIRS, the Alliance for Information and Referral Systems, is a professional association which NJ 211 and many other 211 organizations belong to. They are the driving force behind clear and consistent professional standards that benchmark every aspect of quality I&R (Information & Referral). Maintaining AIRS accreditation demonstrates our commitment to a high level of service delivery, which is achieved by implementing following the AIRS Standards. There are seven critical areas in which an organization must demonstrate compliance: Governance and Policy, Resource Management, Service Delivery, Formal and Informal Training, Quality Improvement Processes, Consumer Satisfaction, and Disaster Preparedness. The accreditation process is tedious, detailed and requires a tremendous amount of documentation. After phases of review, it concludes with an on-site visit and evaluation.

Our database team have moved through the process by verifying that all community resources have been thoroughly vetted according to AIRS standards. The contact center has been mystery shopped and evaluated scoring high marks! Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Donahue, said, "accreditation is a top priority because it ensures that we are delivering a quality service." AIRS Reaccreditation reinforces that NJ 211 is a trusted resource for New Jerseyans every day, including times of disaster. Learn more about NJ 211.


NEW INITIATIVE: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness

Due to the limited data on the number of people living with a TBI in New Jersey, the Division of Disability Services (DDS) began looking for ways to reach individuals across the state to uncover the true number. LorieAnn Wilkerson-Leconte, representative from DDS, had worked with NJ 211 in the past on our diabetes initiative with the NJ Department of Health. She was well aware of NJ 211’s capacity and reach. She contacted NJ 211 to request our services with the TBI awareness. She said, “Your data is gold and your reach among the most vulnerable is expansive.” Together, we are building TBI awareness through text messaging and our telephony system, while collecting essential data from consumers.

Brain Injury test

This is a five year project in which NJ 211 will gather information that will help DDS determine how many New Jerseyans:

  • Know what a TBI is
  • Have experienced a TBI
  • Know how to prevent TBIs in adults and children
  • Are aware of the TBI Fund

DDS and NJ 211 hope that the collaboration sheds light on how TBIs impact New Jerseyans and how the TBI fund's resources can assist survivors and their families. Learn more about TBIs, how to prevent them, and the TBI Fund here.

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