Ombudsman Form
How We Help
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How We Help

1. How can the Office of the Public Advocate help me?
The Office of the Public Advocate has an Ombudsman Services Unit, which assists constituents who have complaints, problems, or inquiries involving government-related services at the City, State, and Federal levels. The unit provides information and referrals and works closely with City agencies to find solutions to problems.

Constituents call the Ombudsman Services Unit at (212) 669-7250 or the Public Advocate's volunteer-run Senior Action Line at (212) 669-7670 /7673.

Constituents can also fill out a complaint form or e-mail us at [email protected]

You will be asked to explain your problem and told that you will receive a response in seven business days. The case is then assigned to an ombudsman who specializes in the area of your concern.

2. What information should I have ready when I call the Public Advocate's Office for help?
It is important that you have all the important details of your case, including a chronological history of events, the names and phone numbers of any agencies or elected officials you have contacted, and an account of what they have done for you. The Public Advocate's Office wants to be able to figure out how and why an agency has made a determination. It is highly recommended that you take notes anytime you contact City agencies with a problem.

3. What kind of services does the Office of the Public Advocate offer constituents?
The Public Advocate's Office serves as your advocate in matters involving the city, state or federal government. We help get the services you need and solve the problems you have with city government. In many cases constituents are unaware that a review/appeals process may be possible for their case whether it is a parking ticket or a zoning matter.

4. In which languages do you provide services?
Our office is able to assist callers in virtually any language. We are connected to an interpretation line that enables us to serve all constituents.

5. How do the services offered by your office differ from those offered by 311?
311 is an information and referral line, which allows you to speak with a live operator, who will likely transfer you to a City agency or take down your complaint and forward it to an agency. In the latter case, you are given a tracking number to monitor the follow-up. The 311 system is not equipped to allow for operators to track your case. At the Public Advocate's Office, complaints are handled in a casework fashion by intervening with the City agencies and following up until your complaint is resolved. 311 provides many great services to callers, but our Ombudsmen are trained to solve your complaints with a hands-on approach.

Making NYC Work

Helping Fight Wrongful Parking Tickets

Dear Public Advocate:
I was recently issued three parking summonses in error; two for a “no parking” zone violation and one for a “street cleaning” zone violation. Knowing they were incorrect, I never bothered to respond to the issuing agency. I then began receiving late fees and warnings that my vehicle could be towed. To prove my innocence, I took photos showing that I was not parked in an illegal zone. I should never have received these fines to begin with, and now I face mounting late fees and the possibility of my vehicle being towed. Can you help me?

Legal Parker

How the Public Advocate’s Office was able to help

Thank you for writing and providing us with the photos showing that you were not parked illegally. My office forwarded your information to the Department of Finance and asked them to remedy the situation. We heard back from a Deputy Director at the DOF who informed us that all three summonses had been dismissed and that DOF records had been adjusted accordingly. However, you should know that in the future it is your responsibility to respond to any and all summonses within 30 days. If you feel you have been wrongly ticketed, you must return the summons and plead not guilty. Remember, it is important to read the back of any parking summons you receive. It is also your right to appear in person at a local adjudication center if you would prefer to see the administrative law judge or make a payment in person.

Helping Families with Public Assistance

Dear Public Advocate:
I receive public assistance, but I have run into obstacles when trying to place my son on my budget. I have custody of the child and I provided a birth certificate showing that I am the father. Even with this information I was still denied. What can be done?

All Under One Roof

How the Public Advocate’s office was able to help

Our office contacted the agency handling this case and persuaded the director of the center to accept your income tax return and your son’s school records as evidence that you both live under the same roof. We were pleased to hear from you later that week with news that your son is now in your budget.

Solving Special Education Problems

Dear Public Advocate:
I have a two and-a-half year old autistic son in need of special education services. I have already attended one Committee on Special Education review where the request for my son was denied. Please help me find someone who will listen to our needs.

Trying to Figure Out the Special Education Process

How the Public Advocate’s Office was able to help

Our office helped you and your son by reaching out to the appropriate administrators in your section of the City. In response to a letter we sent, I was informed that a hearing
was held for your son and several other children and that the special education services you requested were approved. Since we are on the topic of navigating the special education system, I would like to let you know that my office recently published a guide titled Educators Helping Parents: Answers to Parents’ Questions About Special Education. It’s available on my website at or by calling my office at 212-669-7250.

Decreasing Noise Pollution

Dear Public Advocate:
A restaurant in my neighborhood is an incessant noise polluter. There is a roaring sound coming from the facility during al hours of the day and night. I would like to bring this to your attention because many people in the neighborhood are bothered by this. Can you help us?

A Full Plate of Noise

How the Public Advocate’s office was able to help

My office looked into the matter and brought it to the attention of the City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). After reviewing the case the DEP issued a cease and desist order to the restaurant to address the irksome sound. In the future, you or your neighbors can also contact your local police precinct and make the community affairs officers aware of the problem.

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Members of the Public Advocate's Ombudsman Unit






















The Public Advocate's Office • 1 Centre Street, 15th Floor • New York, NY 10007 • General Inquiries: (212) 669-7200
Ombudsman Services: (212) 669-7250 • Fax: (212) 669-4091