The city of Chicago's non-emergency line offers a ton of services for residents, all free of charge. We've written before about how to use the system to report building code violations, but there's a ton of other things you can request from 311 that you might not know about.
311 should only be used for non-emergency issues. If you are witnessing a crime in progress or someone or something is in immediate danger, you should still use 911.
1. Graffiti removal
Most folks know about this one if you frequent Everyblock, but some newcomers might not know. If your building gets tagged you can request a city "graffiti blaster" to come and wash it off.
2. Lead testing of your water and apartment
If you have small children you should be particularly concerned about the presence of lead in your home. Lead is poisonous to all but particularly bad for kids. The city will test your water and living quarters for lead at no cost to you.
3. Pet Wellness Checks
If you have reason to believe that an animal near you is being abused, neglected or otherwise harmed, you can request that a city inspector stop by to check on them.
4. Report Chop Shops
Is your neighbor making a ton of car repairs in their garage, and not to their own car? They may be running an illegal chop shop. Report those to the city of Chicago - stolen cars often wind up getting altered in locations like these.
5. Senior Well-Being Checks
Do you have a neighbor or loved one in Chicago that's getting up there in years and living alone? The city will send someone to stop in and make sure they're doing alright.
6. Report abandoned bikes and request bike racks
The Chicago Department of Transportation is working to improve support for bikers in the city. They want to know about damaged bike racks, abandoned bikes, and places that really could use a new bike rack.
7. Report unshoveled sidewalks
Most folks also know about this one. The ability to report unshoveled walks tends to vanish from the online 311 website during the summer, but once the snow starts falling it returns.
8. Request supplies for a neighborhood cleanup
If you want to get your neighbors together to tidy up your block, the city can help you out with tools such as grabbers and gloves, plus trash bags to help with the project. Give them 3-4 days notice by contacting 311 and pick up the supplies at your local streets & sanitation office.
9. Report housing discrimination
If you've been denied housing, employment or credit for discriminatory reasons such as your race, religion or sexual orientation, you can certainly sue the responsible party. However, you should also report it to the city.
10. Request extreme weather notifications
The city has an automated phone system that calls people when extreme weather events such as blizzards and heat waves are on the way. If you're going to be alone during a big storm you can even request a well-being check for later on just in case.
There's a ton of other things you can do with Chicago's 311 program. Check out their entire list of services at the city of Chicago website.