How To Get Help From A City Agency

1. Do You Need Help From The City?

Did you ever need help from a City Agency?  Did you have trouble with the schools, garbage pick-up, housing, noise complaints, elder care or some other city-related problem?

Typically, people contact the City Agency involved or dial “311” – the New York City helpline.  Hopefully, the City Agency will help you.  But in a city as large as New York, it can be hard to get the City Agency to listen.

If you can’t get help from the City Agency, you need to get outside help.  I suggest you use a tactic that has worked for me in the past.   When you ask for help, your request might get overlooked by an overworked city employee.   But, if a New York City Council Member calls the same employee or their boss on your behalf, you have a much better chance of getting help.

2.  Who Should I Call To Get The City Agency To Listen?

I suggest you telephone all of the local politicians for your neighborhood and ask them to help.  At the end of this email, I have attached websites where you can easily find the telephone numbers of the four local, elected politicians where you live.

Remember:  Elected politicians may want to help you for the right reasons, but they also want your vote and the votes of your friends and family.  If they help you, it helps them get re-elected.

Let me give you an example:  One of my office managers was coming to work completely tired.  I asked her what was wrong.  She said that Con Edison had left large metal plates in her street after some construction.  The plates had been there for months.  Every time a car ran over the plates, the plates clanged like bells and made a terrible racket.  No one was getting any sleep on her block.  For months, my office manager and her neighbors had been calling 311 and complaining to New York City authorities.  She begged them to make Con Ed remove the plates.  Nothing happened.

I immediately called the elected politicians in her area including, the New York City Council Member, New York State Assembly Member, New York State Senator and the Borough President for Queens County.  Each time I called, I asked for the person who handles voter requests or “constituent services”.

The plates were removed that night.  My office manager asked the Con Ed workers what happened.  They told her that that they had received emergency instructions from their boss to remove the plates immediately.

3. How Do I Find The Phone Numbers Of My Local Elected Officials?

You should always call the relevant City Agency or “311” BEFORE calling your local politician.   Try to get the City Agency to help you first.  If the City Agency doesn’t help you, then call the local elected representative.  (The politician will want to know who you talked to at the City Agency – so they will know who to contact on your behalf.)

If you think a City Agency is not listening to you, enlist the help of one or all four of your local elected officials.   Click on the below links, type in your address and you will get the name and phone number of your local elected officials.   When you call, ask for “constituent services” and tell them your problem.   They might just call the City Agency and ask them what is going on.

New York City Council Member
http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml

New York State Assembly Member
http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/search/

New York State Senator
http://www.nysenate.gov/

Bronx Borough President
(718) 590-3500

Brooklyn Borough President
(718) 802-3700

Manhattan Borough President
(212) 669-8300

Queens Borough President
(718) 286-3000

Staten Island Borough President
(718) 816-2000

If you ever need help from a City Agency, I think making these call will help.  It is sure worth a try if you are having trouble getting through the bureaucracy!