Last month, I announced an innovative smart government program called "No Wrong Door," that will provide significantly enhanced service to Nassau County's human services clients, while at the same time allowing the county's eight health and human services departments, which will be consolidated into a single facility with a simplified intake process, to operate more efficiently. "No Wrong Door" is a new model for Nassau County and is on the cutting edge of government service delivery nationwide.
"No Wrong Door" is a dramatic step forward in making Nassau County government both more compassionate and smarter. Through this enhanced service delivery system, the county will better serve the public, and at the same time, save taxpayers money in the long run by putting an end to inefficiency and waste. By having all our health and human services departments in one location, we will provide better services to countless county residents who no longer will have to travel from building to building to receive all the services they need. I am proud that we are launching a program that is both the right thing to do on a human services level and the smart thing to do fiscally.
The eight health and human services departments include the departments of Social Services, Health, Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol, Senior Citizen Affairs, Youth Board, Veterans Service Agency, and the Office for the Physically Challenged. The planned move of these departments to 60 Charles Lindbergh Boulevard in Uniondale, which is expected to be completed by the Summer of 2005, makes it possible for the county to deliver improved government services in a cost-effective manner.
The move to the new Health and Human Services Center is the first major step in our comprehensive building consolidation plan. Currently, the five existing buildings housing the eight departments are riddled with structural problems; including a leaking roof, asbestos and a dangerously insufficient electrical system and many are non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In addition to all the benefits associated with "No Wrong Door," the move of these departments is necessary to avoid the cost of rehabilitating these buildings, which has been conservatively estimated to cost more than $40 million.
The "No Wrong Door" system of care will enable the county to meet a continuum of needs for each resident through a single point of entry. The new building will also feature a comfortable and inviting waiting room and a welcome desk staffed with trained customer service professionals to greet and guide residents.
Countless pieces of legislation that created the American Welfare State were well intentioned but not necessarily well-implemented. But that era taught us that you cannot legislate compassion, you cannot legislate common sense and you cannot legislate practical thinking. The "No Wrong Door" program is the beginning of a long journey to provide better, more effective services to our residents most in need. We will do so, not by spending more money but by managing better, communicating better and coordinating our existing resources more effectively.