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2-1-1 hotline adds redistricting to list of issues it can help with

A sign points out a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting in Midland.
Brett Dahlberg

Michigan’s 2-1-1 hotline, which offers support to people who need helppaying bills, finding shelter and handling family crises, will now also help people contact the commission in charge of drawing new political maps.

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has been holding meetings across the state to gather suggestions about how to assign the state’s population to legislative districts.

The group has a goal of receiving 10,000 public comments, said spokesperson Edward Woods III. Those can come through in-person remarks delivered at the commission’s scheduled meetings, or through phone or online submissions.

But some people have had trouble calling in or submitting their suggestions online, Woods said.

“We’re not getting the number of people that we thought we might,” he said.

In an effort to make the process easier, the commission is working with the state’s 2-1-1 hotline.

Language barriers and internet accessibility had both presented obstacles for people who wanted to offer comments to the commission, said Woods.

Now, a call to 2-1-1 can connect a person with a slate of operators who can collectively translate over 200 languages, said hotline executive director Hassan Hammoud.

“For folks that may speak a different language other than English and need to be able to talk to somebody, please don’t let language barriers be an issue,” Hammoud said. “Call 2-1-1. We can help walk you through the online registration form and get you signed up and be able to provide your public comment over the phone.”

The commission’s public comment hearings run through this month. In July, the group plans to start drafting its new maps.

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Brett joined Michigan Public in December 2021 as an editor.
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