EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing CALÓ NEWS series on the state of hate in LA and California. If you are an expert on the subject, a victim, an activist or community leader, please contact us at brenda@latinomedia.org.

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211 LA has served the residents of Los Angeles County for 42 years, since 1981. 

The phone service line is formally called the Information and Referral Federation of Los Angeles (INFO-LINE). 211 LA has been a trusted database hub where community members and community organizations can call to receive various types of health, human and social services in LA.  

Through their 24-hour, 2-1-1 call line and their website, text and chat platforms, 211 LA provides information and referrals to the services that best meet the needs of anyone asking for help. 

Executive Director, Maribel Marin, told CALÓ NEWS that residents call 211 LA for all types of support and services, including for housing, food, medical care, renter assistance and senior care. 

211 LA’s resource team maintains and curates the database, which contains approximately 50,000 health and social services available to LA residents for free or at a low cost. 

These services include housing, transportation, employment, legal assistance, mental health, food and more. One of the organization’s biggest focuses is hate crimes and hate crime prevention, as well as supporting victims. 

211 LA’s services are funded through a partnership with the LA County Board of Supervisors, contracts with the State of California, LAHSA, SoCal Gas, Southern California Edison, AARP, and grants from foundations, including the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Under Marin’s leadership, 211 LA has won various awards. One of the last awards granted to the organization in 2022 was the Ragan’s Workplace Wellness Award. 211 LA was selected as an honorable mention for the “Work-From-Home Health/Wellbeing” category in recognition of workplaces that are transforming into a more productive, engaged and healthy workforce. 

In 2019, 211 LA received the LA County Quality and Productivity Commission, Top 10 Productivity and Quality Award. This award was officially granted to the Family Reunification Housing Subsidy Program, a collaboration between multiple County Departments and 211 LA to house and reunify homeless families.

Marin’s leadership has also been recognized. In 2014, she was named one of LA’s top collaborative leaders by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Marin also serves as the current president of the California Alliance of Information and Referral Services (CAIRS), the current president of the statewide association of 211s, 211 California, and serves on California’s Aging and Disability Resource Center Advisory Committee.

Marin was a one-year-old child when her parents moved to California from Mexico. Her father worked in the fields as a farmworker, while her mother was a stay-at-home parent. 

Marin said that she empathizes with people who call 211 LA to seek services, including those who have been victims of hate incidents, as many of them do not speak English. 

“I learned English before I started kindergarten, but my parents struggled a little bit more. And I was always the one that was tasked with interpreting, asking questions for my parents,” Marin said. “I always grew up knowing that it was challenging for people who didn’t know English.”

211 LA
Marin advocating for 211 LA to continue and be a person-to-person resource for LA county residents.

Marin graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since graduating from college, Marin’s background has been in urban policy and performance management. 

Prior to joining 211 LA, Maribel worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the City of Los Angeles. “I joined the Natural Resources Defense Council, which was essentially a law firm that sued polluters, both commercial entities and public agencies, that were contributing to the pollution of the urban landscape,” Marin said. “I thought I would do that for the rest of my life. I loved it.”

But the future held different plans for her. 

Marin said that she learned about 211 LA through a friend. She joined the organization in 2002. “At that time, it was still called Info-Line. When I joined, the organization was on the verge of converting to 211 LA. They were still working with the Public Utilities Commission, convincing them to adopt the 2-1-1 code in California,” she said. 

Marin explained that the 2-1-1 dialing code belongs to the state, and only with the authorization of the Public Utilities Commission can organizations use that number on a county by county basis. 

Marin helped draft the 211 LA program with the State Public Utilities Commission and helped immobilize an application in order for 211 LA to become a provider for the County of Los Angeles. Three years after Marin joined, the organization adopted the 211 LA name and the 2-1-1 dialing code, which began taking calls and referring callers to services. 

Since April 2020 through March 2023, 211 LA has reported receiving 1,974,703 calls from people seeking services and giving a total of 2,378,794 referrals.

Last December, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) released its annual hate crime report for Los Angeles County in 2021, showing hate crimes have reached the highest level in 19 years. Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County grew 23% from 641 to 786 in 2021, according to the report

This is the largest number recorded since 2002. The report also revealed that Latinos are the second-largest group of hate crime victims. After rising 58% in 2020, reported anti-Latino/crimes in Los Angeles County climbed another 10% in 2021, from 106 to 117. They comprised 25% of racial crimes.

For 211 LA, hate crimes and hate incidents have also been alarming, as many of the calls they receive are from hate incident victims. Since 2020, 211 LA has received 1,482 calls for discrimination assistance, 2,531 calls for crime prevention and 2,186 calls regarding victim/witness, some of which include hate crimes, according to the 211 LA database dashboard

 211 LA also has an anti-hate program called 211’s vs. Hate. Through this initiative, 211 aims to build hate-free communities locally and throughout the State of California. “By tracking and reporting hate, we can ensure that resources are allocated appropriately, that those targeted by hate receive the support they need, that offenders are held accountable, and that we can build respectful and resilient communities,” 211 LA states on their website

CALÒ NEWS spoke to Marin about 211 LA, the services they offer to hate incident victims, reporting and the effects hate crimes have among the Latino community. 

Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

MARIBEL MARIN, 58, Executive Director of 211 LA, Los Angeles, she/her, Mexican/American

Marin enjoys leading the organization and hopes to continue helping her community prosper. Photo Courtesy of 211 LA


We’re a nonprofit organization, but we also have a union that represents the agents that answer the calls we receive from people looking for services. We also have contracts from state agencies and the county that have performance standards. If we can’t meet the performance standards in those contracts, we don’t get to keep those contracts. 211 LA has had the county contract for over 40 years, and that’s our primary contract. We can’t afford to lose the contract, and therefore we can’t afford to not meet the performance standards. The only way to meet the performance standards is based on how many calls an agent can handle and how much assistance they can provide to people in need of services and assistance. All of the tools we use to measure performance, like our phone systems and our software systems, are capturing all the data that we need for purposes of performance. All the data that comes through the phone system goes into our software. We know what happens in each call by the agent by the day. We track a whole lot of data, which is why we can tell you that the primary reason that people call is for basic needs. We’re tracking everything that people call us about and then all the things that we’re able to refer to them.


You do not have to be a citizen. We don’t ask you about your documentation status. But if you do need to show or demonstrate your documentation status to anybody that we refer you to, we will tell you. It is important for many immigrants to know that the support we give includes getting translation services. 

When somebody calls, usually people don’t know what they’re looking for. They just say they are hungry or need a place to sleep or clothes. Then it’s up to our agents to figure out what service would help them the best. Sometimes it’s just a referral for something, sometimes it’s a connection to an agency; sometimes it’s assistance to help them enroll in something and provide them with long-term care.


We work with the LAPD. There are also counterparts in the county, who are at the Sheriff’s Department, who look into hate crimes. A lot of times, what people are reporting will be things like burglary, harassment, or something like that, and we know it’s a hate incident based on either the language that was being used, graffiti, or whatever the case might be that reflects bias motivation. A lot of times, it starts with having 211 LA support victims make a police report. Many of them do not want to, but oftentimes there’s victim compensation, but you can’t pursue that unless you have a police report. When we file a report, a lot of times victims are afraid of retaliation. Many of them don’t speak English, and they need help. A lot of times, the crimes we get calls for are race-based or based on ethnicity and racial characteristics. Oftentimes, immigrants are the majority of victims. Our 211 LA workers are equipped and need a lot of cultural sensitivity when it comes to listening and supporting victims to approach the situation as best as possible. 

When it comes to hate crimes, we work with partners like CHRILA, which helps us with the immigrant population, in particular, Latinos. We also work with the Anti-Defamation League on antisemitic acts against the Jewish community. We have a large number of partners that work with the Asian community when it comes to hate crimes, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Asian Youth Council. So they are with us when we do case conferencing so that we talk with victims about what happened, who was involved, and bias motivation. Then we discuss strategies on how to address it, address any cultural issues, and get advice from our partners on what victims can do next. Sometimes our partners will take the case directly on themselves.


Definitely, I think, especially immigrants. I think they are facing a lot of hate and are afraid to report it because of their immigrant status. I think the difference between Latinos and other immigrants is that many Latinos are constantly exposing themselves, in much more vulnerable ways, oftentimes in their jobs. We sometimes see them on the side of our roads selling fruit or flowers, and we see street vendors being attacked on YouTube and TikTok and Instagram. When it comes to cases like these, like street vendors that have been victims of hate, we help them get permits, and provide victim assistance. If there’s any kind of restitution that they can receive, we’ll support them with that. 


Well, since the Trump presidency, we’ve seen and gotten crime reports of a lot more overt acts. In the past, it was a lot more graffiti-related, things being posted somewhere, but now it’s very physical, very public. These things are happening in parks, in apartment houses, or in public transit. We are also seeing these neighbor-to-neighbor situations where they’re escalating from neighbor to neighbor racially motivated or based actions.


We have so many different staff, but answering the 2-1-1 lines, we have about 55 agents, but not all at the same time. We cover the line 24/7, 7 days a week, so agents are on call at different times. At peak times, there might be 30 agents online or on call. 

One of the things we know about our callers is that they want to talk to a real person because their situation is complicated. It’s not like you can just say a couple of keywords and then get it resolved. A lot of times, they’re calling for something when there’s something more important in the background that they need. For instance, they could be calling for food today, but they really need to get food stamps. Or they may be calling for shelter for themselves and their kids, but we can’t give it to them because they don’t have documents for their children, so now we have to help them get the documents and it’s not an easy process.


 The county recently tried to replace us with a technology platform, which they said would be so much better than us. According to them, they would have these bots that would get to people much faster than us.

Instead of fully funding us, they only fund 75% of the demands, so we know that another 25% is just never going to get covered because we don’t have enough people. The county hasn’t changed our funding since 2005. No organization in California could operate at the same level of service for 18 years. We have. Our budget has not changed since we began 211 LA services in 2005.  

We’re expected to still help the same number of people, with the same budget, when the problem has grown. There are a whole lot more homeless people; about a third of our calls are about people who are homeless or are about to be homeless. It’s not an easy process because, as a 211 LA agent, you also don’t know who’s got shelter, so you’ve got to call around. But the county has tried to automate us and the community pushed back, and that decision didn’t go through. But there are constant threats that claim that what 211 LA does should be done by computers. There are a lot of folks who think people should just Google services and look for them on their own,  but many people don’t have those resources, or they don’t have internet, and they’re not tech-savvy. These people need us.

Anyone may report anonymously and receive access to additional community-based and crisis care resources. In addition, information about hate crime incidents or crimes may be submitted anonymously online or by calling 2-1-1. Visit the LA Civil, Human Rights, and Equity Department’s resource page HERE for additional state and legal resources.

NOTE: CALÓ NEWS is committed to reporting on hate crimes related to Latinos, from victims to perpetrators to change makers. If you or your organization would like to share your expertise regarding hate crime prevention in Los Angeles and Southern California, please contact Brenda Fernanda Verano at brenda@latinomedia.org.

Brenda Fernanda Verano is a journalist born in Mexico and raised in South Central, LA. Verano is a two-time award winner in the California College Media Association Awards. At CALÓ News, she covers...