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How 1,837,991 calls to 311 in 2014 breakdown by department

Breaking down all calls to 311 in 2014 by department, the top six are:

Total number of calls to 311 in 2014
HPD (Housing Preservation and Development)
DOT (Department of Transportation)
311, 475
NYPD (Do I Really Need To Spell This Out)
DEP (Department of Environmental Protection)
DSNY (Department of Sanitation)
DOB (Department of Buildings)

The Dept. of Buildings, the reason this blog exists at all, is 6th. Surprising? Not really. It’s a case of power divorced from responsibility. Permits for jackhammering in the middle of the night are issued by the DOB under the sanitized rubric of “After Hours Variance” but when you call 311 about the insane noise, guess who gets that complaint? The DEP. ┬áThe person at DOB who issued the permit can shrug his shoulders. Wall Street couldn’t perfect a better unaccountability system. Moving on….

Those six departments account for most of the quality of life issues in the city. Let’s look at HPD’s outsize contribution to the aggregate. NYCHA (NYC Housing Authority) owns the public housing stock in NYC (and administers aid programs like Section 8) but if you had a leak in a NYCHA apartment, that complaint would go to HPD. As best as I understand it. In other words, if that housing stock was in private hands, most of those calls going to HPD would go to the private owners and we wouldn’t hear about it. You could make the case that the calls related to public housing should be attributed to NYCHA; like noise from DOB’s noise-permits winding up in the DEP count. A key difference is NYCHA is a statutory authority, the DOB is a department.

Edit May 27: A news item this morning said NYCHA is shutting down its customer service department and calls will be handled by 311. So I called 311 and they say service complaints from/about public housing go to NYCHA, not HPD, as I suggested above. She says HPD complaints are regarding private housing. Subject to re-verification – this changes everything.

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