311 response and repair times

People complain about nuisance properties more than anything else in Houston

Published On: Sep 19 2013 10:21:20 PM CDT   Updated On: Sep 19 2013 10:52:45 PM CDT
HOUSTON -

When you've got a problem in the city of Houston, whether it's a pothole or garbage collection issue, the number to call is 311.

Local 2 Investigates wanted to know if where you're calling from makes a difference in how quickly city crews come out to help.
Consumer expert Amy Davis analyzed hundreds of thousands of requests to show you which areas of town are getting speedy service and who's left waiting for help.

Dispatchers at Houston's 311 call center take some 350,000 requests a year. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"You can get a great sense of what's going on in the city just by standing in here for a couple of minutes," said Houston spokesman Chris Newport.

Local 2 took it a step further to find out if where you're calling from makes a difference in how quickly you'll get help. From potholes to traffic signal issues, we analyzed an entire year's worth of 311 requests, calculating the time it took the city to resolve complaints from that first phone call to the fix. Then we averaged the total response time to all calls from each of Houston's Super Neighborhoods.

The area that got the fastest response by city crews was the Medical Center where the average wait was 5 days, 23 hours and 13 minutes.  The top complaint in the Medical Center was for traffic signal maintenance with 438 requests made to 311.

“Here it is .. it's been years.. years!” said Pastor Robert Valyan.

Pastor Robert Valyan of Living Rock Community Church in Sunnyside says he's been waiting almost five years for the city to demolish an abandoned home next to his church on Maggie Street.

"We have squatters come in and do drugs," said Valyan.  "They bring others in that are doing drugs."

The average wait for help for help in Sunnyside on Houston's southside between 610 and Sims Bayou was about 18 days, 17 hours and 59 minutes.  885 reports in the super neighborhood were like Valyan's about nuisance properties... dangerous, dilapidated eyesores, overgrown weeds and trash. It's the kind of complaint that Newport says take the longest to fix.

"The ones where it takes specific investigation by a caseworker, those are the ones where it's gonna take a longer time to resolve" said Newport.

People complain about nuisance properties more than anything else in Houston. The second most frequent complaint is about garbage collection and the garbage containers. On average, it took the City about seven days to respond to each issue.

Briar Forest, bounded by Buffalo Bayou to the north, Gessner to the east, Westheimer to the south and Dairy Ashford to the west had the longest average wait of 22 days, four hours and four minutes, three days longer than Sunnyside and a full 16 days longer than folks in the Medical Center. The top complaint in Briar Forest was also traffic light maintenance with 376 reports.

The next slowest response time is Fondren Gardens. Residents and business owners there waited 20 days, 13 hours and 21 minutes for repairs. The neighborhood's top complaint was nuisance properties with 96 different reports.

After the Medical Center,  Willowbrook near 249 and 1960 had the next fastest response at six days and five hours. Addicks Park10 just north of I-10 near Barker Cypress and Highway 6, waiting an average of seven days and 31 minutes.

"Houstonians, where they live, they receive equitable service," Newport said.

He says the disparity we discovered has nothing to do with one community getting preferential treatment over another. Instead, he said some segments of Houston have more problems that take longer to solve than others.

For the full breakdown of the super neighborhoods with the slowest and fastest response times, see below: 
 
Slowest average response times:
                        Briar Forest: 22 days, 4 hours 4 min
                        Foundren Gardens: 20 days, 13 hours 21 min
                        Sunnyside: 18 days, 17 hours 59 min

Fastest average response times:
                        Medical Center Area: 5 days, 23 hours 13 min
                        Willowbrook: 6 days, 5 hours 35 min
                        Addicks Park Ten: 7 days, 31 min