After analyzing NYC’s 311 data, one thing is clear: no matter how you slice it, heat is a huge issue in NYC. During the 2014-2015 heat season—which spans from October to May—the city’s 311 call service received 230,702 complaints reporting inadequate heat/hot water. For the math majors among us, that’s nearly 1,000 complaints per day, on average. These grievances accounted for 17% of all complaints received by 311 during heating season, making inadequate heat/hot water far and away the most common complaint submitted to the city.
The numbers vary by borough, with the Bronx faring the worst by far. Of the 195 complaint types that can be made through 311, fully ⅓ were regarding heat/hot water last winter in the Bronx. Bronx resident Trudy Pogue, in an interview with ABC 7 News, expressed the truly heartbreaking reality of the issue.
“You go to bed cold,” she said. “You wake up, it’s cold. If you have to go out, it’s cold. When you come in, it’s cold. So how else can you feel but frustrated and angry?”
Residents in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens don’t fare much better. Nearly 20% of complaints made in Manhattan, 17.5% made in Brooklyn, and 10% made in Queens were about heat/hot water. Only in Staten Island, the borough with the highest median income and highest degree of home ownership, was another complaint type – street condition – more common.
It’s clear that inadequate heat is a widespread problem in NYC. Boilers break, heating oil runs out, residents deal with periodic service disruptions, and in some cases, abusive landlords purposefully withhold heat from their tenants. In the coming weeks, we’ll delve deeper into NYC’s Open Data to see which buildings are suffering from chronic lack of heat, which neighborhoods are most adversely affected, and what patterns emerge when we compare this year’s data to data from years past.