Today the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) launched a new website feature that will allow New Yorkers to check the status of housing maintenance complaints reported to the 311 Customer Service Center. Through HPD's website at www.nyc.gov/hpd,New Yorkers can currently research their building’s housing code violations. Now they can also enter their 311 complaint number to check progress on their complaint from the time they call 311 until an inspector comes to their apartment to verify the complaint and issue a violation, if warranted. The 311 complaint number is provided by the 311 Call Center Representative when a tenant first reports an apartment maintenance problem and it is also on the letter sent in the mail to the tenant by HPD confirming receipt of the complaint.
HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan said, "Allowing residents to look up online the status of a housing maintenance complaint will let us significantly improve our customer service and it is an important step forward in our efforts to enable tenants to better use the city’s housing maintenance code enforcement services. Well-maintained, quality housing is a mainstay of Mayor Bloomberg's $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to fund the rehabilitation and construction of 165,000 apartments and homes over ten years. The Plan is working: according to the US Census, housing maintenance conditions across the city are the best on record."
Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Paul Cosgrave said, “As successful as 311 has been, we’re always looking to enhance its accessibility—and this new functionality is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed atdoing just that. Now, by calling up or logging-on, anyone, anytime, can find the status of their housing maintenance complaints made through 311. Mayor Bloomberg is adamant in his belief that government must be accessible to the people it serves, and by sharpening the City’s focus on enabling its customers, this initiative furthers that ideal.”
Website users should first enter their building’s address on the “Complaint, Violation and Registration Information” look-up, located on the right column of the website’s homepage, in order to access their building record. Once on the record page, they should click on “Complaint Status”, located on the left column to enter their complaint number. The feature is simultaneously being released in Spanish, which can be accessed from a link on the English page. In both language versions, the status information is accompanied by instructions on how to proceed in case further action by the tenant is needed. In some cases, telephone numbers for HPD’s Code Enforcement Borough offices and call-back operators is provided when HPD staff needs to establish contact with the tenant directly.
Building owners of privately-owned buildings are required by law to maintain apartments in habitable condition and provide tenants with heat during the winter heat season (October 1 through May 31) and hot water 365 days a year. These standards are enforced by HPD's Division of Code Enforcement. If a building owner fails to maintain his building’s apartment and provide essential services, tenants may report the condition to the City's Customer Service Center at 311 which can be accessed outside of New York City by dialing (212) NEW YORK. For the hearing impaired, the TTY number is (212) 504-4115. The 311 Customer Service Center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week.
When 311 receives a complaint, HPD staff may attempt to contact the building's owner or managing agent to establish if the complaint has been corrected. Before an HPD code inspector is dispatched to the building, HPD may call the tenant back to determine whether the condition has been corrected. If the condition has not been corrected, an HPD inspector may be sent to the building, to verify the complaint and issue the any appropriate violation.
Each time an inspector responds to a complaint, the tenant is provided the following information: a summary of issued violations; a complaint number; the date of inspection; and, the inspector's badge number. After the inspection, tenants receive a brochure outlining their rights and responsibilities and the most common health and safety violations. This brochure helps tenants understand their rights and responsibilities and encourages them to work with the City in bringing buildings up to code. The building owner is also notified of the complaint. If violation conditions are verified by the Inspector, a Notice of Violation will be sent to the owner instructing him/her to repair the condition.
Since the introduction of 311 tenants have been able to report building problems more easily and the number of violations issued and corrected have increased significantly. In Fiscal Year 2002, before 311 was started, 375,781 violations were removed. In FY 2006 643,200 violations were removed and more violations were removed than issued. The introduction of the 311 online complaint status lookup will better meet the expectations of all New Yorkers who use 311 to report and follow-up on housing complaints. Housing Maintenance complaint and Service Request Status are among the three top 311 HPD-related inquiries. In 2006 a total of 39,299 status request calls were received through the Citizen Service Center. During February and January of 2007, 16,845 status request calls were received and answered by 311.
People without access to the internet can continue to call 311 to get their complaint status from a Call Center Representative.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development's mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. The department is the nation's largest municipal housing development agency and is implementing Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years. The New Housing Marketplace Plan is the largest municipal affordable housing effort in the nation's history. HPD also encourages the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards.