The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

 Department of Housing and Community Development

Language Access Plan

 

 

I.          Introduction

 

The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community is committed to ensuring equal access to its programs and services by all residents, regardless of primary language spoken or English proficiency. Title VI and Executive Order 13166 require recipients of federal financial assistance to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and services by persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Persons who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English can be considered LEP persons with LEP.  On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued Final Guidance to recipients of HUD funding concerning compliance with the Title VI prohibition against national origin discrimination affecting persons with LEP.

 

DHCD has prepared this Language Access Plan (LAP), which defines the actions to be taken by DHCD and its subcontracting agencies, hereinafter referred to as “administering entities,” to ensure Title VI compliance with respect to persons with LEP.[1]  DHCD will periodically review and update this LAP in order to ensure continued responsiveness to community needs and compliance with Title VI.

 

II.       Background

 

Broadening access for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) is a general Fair Housing principle that must permeate all policies and decision-making of the state funding agencies.  In addition to the mandate to affirmatively further Fair Housing, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposes legal obligations on the Commonwealth with respect to LEP.  Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.  The definition of “Program or activity” includes “a department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or of a local government…or the entity of such State or local government that distributes such assistance and each such department or agency (and each other State or local government entity) to which the assistance is extended”.  As recipients of federal financial assistance, DHCD as a whole, as well as other entities of state and local governments, are covered by Title VI.  Title VI also applies to organizations, corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships primarily in the business of providing housing.  The following is a listing of responsible entities pursuant to HUD’s Final Guidance:

 


Subrecipeints and state grant recipients are also subject to HUD’s Final Guidance when HUD funds are passed to them through the grantee.  

 

HUD’s Final Guidance posits a four-part test for evaluating compliance:

 

1)      The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the program or grantee;

2)      The frequency with which LEP persons come in contact with the program;

3)      The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program, or the greater the possible consequences of the contact to the LEP persons; and

4)      The resources available to the grantee/recipient and costs.

 

 

III.       Role of DHCD and Entities Administering DHCD Programs 

 

DHCD is comprised of the following four divisions which administer various state and federally funded programs:

 

·         Division of Public Housing and Rental Assistance

·         Division of Housing Development

·         Division of Community Services

·         Division of Housing Stabilization

 

The following is a listing of the primary entities administering DHCD programs:

 

·         Regional Non-Profits/Administering Agencies (RAAs) administering federal and state rental assistance and stabilization assistance[2]

·         Housing Consumer Education Centers

·         Local Housing Authorities administering state-aided public housing and state rental assistance

·         Community Action Agencies administering LIHEAP and other Community Services division programs

·         Sponsors/developers or borrowers and their management companies providing private housing with public subsidy administered through the state (including by the quasi-public agencies MassHousing, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and MassDevelopment)

 

Due to the broad scope of DHCD program administration through a variety of public, non-profit, and private entities with varying resources, responsibilities, and staff capacities, DHCD will not attempt to create a detailed, “one-size fits all” LAP.  Instead, DHCD’s LAP Guidance provided in the Appendix of this document is intended to direct DHCD program administering entities to create their own LAPs, and to provide further instruction to assist the creation of such LAPs.  DHCD will continue its efforts to translate DHCD program documents over time and will provide technical assistance to administering entities in carrying out DHCD programs in compliance with LEP requirements.  As necessary, DHCD will issue new guidance and/or regulations relating to its programs in order to ensure effective implementation of LAPs. 

 

 

 

IV.       Identifying LEP Individuals Who Need Language Assistance

 

 

Massachusetts is a highly diverse state in which numerous LEP households reside. According to data from the U.S. Census performed in 2000, 18.7% of all residents over the age of eighteen speak a language other than English, and of those residents, 21% speak English “not well” or “not at all.” Using available Census data as a guideline, DHCD has estimated the LEP population (and what languages they speak) across counties based on the percentage of non-English speakers that indicated that they speak English “Not Well” or “Not at All.” Although HUD’s Final Guidance states that the safe harbor guidelines need only apply to the eligible population, and DHCD primarily covers incomes at 80% of the area median income and below, such data is not readily available from U.S. Census datasets.  Thus, the estimates provided are likely overestimates of the eligible populations and may under-represent the share of some eligible populations.  DHCD has petitioned the U.S. Census Bureau to make a more accurate dataset available, and will update the LAP if and when this dataset becomes available.

 

The most frequently spoken languages according to U.S. Census data among the LEP population in the Commonwealth are Spanish, French Creole, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese[3], Mon-Khmer (Cambodian), and Vietnamese.  A summary of these groups can be seen below in Table 1(A), and Table 2(A) provides detailed information on these populations by county. These populations appear to fall within the “Safe Harbor” guidelines as defined by HUD’s Final Guidance on Limited English Proficiency issues. Conforming to “Safe Harbor” guidelines is meant to provide strong evidence to HUD that DHCD has made reasonable efforts to provide appropriate written language assistance to its LEP populations in its programs.  The “Safe Harbor” guidelines are defined below.

 

 

 

HUD Safe Harbor Guidelines

Size of Language Group

Recommended Provision of Written Language Assistance

1,000 or more in the eligible population in the market area or among current beneficiaries.

Translated vital documents.

 

More than 5% of the eligible population or beneficiaries and more than 50 in number.

Translated vital documents.

More than 5% of the eligible population or beneficiaries and 50 or less in number.

Translated written notice of right to receive free oral interpretation of documents.

5% or less of the eligible population or beneficiaries and less than 1,000 in number.

No written translation is required.

 

 

 

Table 1(A): Massachusetts LEP Populations as a Percentage of Total State Population (18 years and over)

Population

Number

Percentage

Population 18 years and over

4,853,130

100.00%

Speak only English

3,944,715

81.28%

Speak a language other than English

908,415

18.72%

Total MA LEP Population (people who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All")

193,785

3.99%

 

 

 

Spanish or Spanish Creole

71,895

1.48%

Portuguese or Portuguese Creole

39,620

0.82%

Chinese

18,050

0.37%

Russian

8,990

0.19%

Vietnamese

8,990

0.19%

French Creole

6,810

0.14%

Italian

6,525

0.13%

Mon-Khmer, Cambodian

5,125

0.11%

Source: 2000 U.S. Census

 

 

 


Table 2(A): Detailed LEP Population Data at the State and RAA Regional Level (2000 U.S. Census)[4]

Population 18 years and over

Speak only English

Speak a language other than English

Spanish or Spanish Creole

French Creole

Italian

Portuguese or Portuguese Creole

Russian

Chinese

Mon-Khmer, Cambodian

Vietnamese

Massachusetts

Number

4,853,130

3,944,715

908,415

270,460

31,845

56,195

134,960

27,575

60,150

13,830

23,465

 

Percentage

100.00%

81.28%

18.72%

5.57%

0.66%

1.16%

2.78%

0.57%

1.24%

0.28%

0.48%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts Speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

193,785

71,895

6,810

6,525

39,620

8,990

18,050

5,125

8,990

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

% of Language Speakers who Speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

21.33%

26.58%

21.38%

11.61%

29.36%

32.60%

30.01%

37.06%

38.31%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determined by Using Berkshire County Data.

Number

104,639

97,607

7,032

1,513

13

945

129

95

188

9

98

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

402

3

110

38

31

56

3

38

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determined by using Middlesex County Data.

Number

1,137,441

902,289

235,152

45,601

7,767

20,325

30,858

8,445

21,800

6,879

4,716

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

12,122

1,661

2,360

9,059

2,753

6,542

2,549

1,807

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Determined by Using Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket County Data.

Number

227,259

205,232

22,027

5,479

93

1,232

482

517

1,341

286

321

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

1,456

20

143

142

169

402

106

123

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Determined by using Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire County Data.

Number

460,414

373,791

86,623

42,197

241

3,746

5,709

3,620

2,096

589

1,717

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

11,217

52

435

1,676

1,180

629

218

658

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Determined by using Suffolk County Data.

Number

551,223

372,991

178,232

71,090

14,420

10,194

11,661

5,947

15,524

1,348

8,653

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

18,897

3,084

1,184

3,423

1,939

4,658

500

3,315

 

 

 

Population 18 years and over

Speak only English

Speak a language other than English

Spanish or Spanish Creole

French Creole

Italian

Portuguese or Portuguese Creole

Russian

Chinese

Mon-Khmer, Cambodian

Vietnamese

Determined by Using Worcester County Data.

Number

558,886

474,518

84,368

30,619

309

3,593

4,557

1,199

2,481

355

3,756

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

8,139

66

417

1,338

391

745

132

1,439

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determined by using Bristol and Plymouth County Data.

Number

749,883

625,522

124,361

18,636

5,539

3,084

67,966

239

1,598

1,378

913

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Not Well" or "Not at All"

 

 

 

4,954

1,185

358

19,953

78

480

511

350

 

 

Populations Which Meet the Safe Harbor Threshold at the Estimate of Language Speakers who Speak English “Not Well” or “Not at All”


 

American Community Survey Update:

 

As the 2010 U.S. Census does not include data pertaining to languages, the American Community Survey (“ACS”) data available through the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder tables appears to be the best available source of public data post-2000 U.S. Census data. 

 

It is important to note that the ACS estimates are based on sample data and are subject to sampling variability and margins of error.[5]  Likely because of the smaller sample sizes and greater sampling variability compared to the 2000 U.S. Census data, various ACS tables (e.g. for populations 18 and over, populations who do not speak English “at all,” linguistic isolation indicators, etc.), do not specify languages other than Spanish; instead, the tables group such languages into “other Indo-European languages,” “Asian and Pacific Island languages,” and “other languages” categories. 

 

Available 2010 ACS tables for numerous specified languages pertain to populations 5 years and over that speak English “less than very well.”  Tables 1(B) and 2(B) update Tables 1(A) and 2(A), respectively, using ACS 2010 5-year estimates (2006-2010).  Table 1(B) updates Table 1(A) using the ACS measure of persons who speak English “less than very well” for persons 5 years and over in Massachusetts.  Table 2(B) updates Table 2(A) languages based on tabulations of said ACS data by county/regional area.

 

The 2010 ACS estimates indicate additional languages that, in certain counties, exceed 1,000 persons (although less than 5%) who speak English “less than very well,” notably Arabic and Korean in Middlesex and Suffolk counties and Polish in Hampden and Worcester counties.  However, as such data includes children (many of whom may reside in the same household) and still excludes income levels (relevant to DHCD program eligibility), it is a less reliable measure.  Therefore, DHCD will continue to consult with programs in determining demand or need for translations in addition to the languages that are depicted in this LAP.[6]

 

 

 

Table 1(B): Update of Table 1(A) Massachusetts LEP Populations as Percentage of Population (5 Years and Over Using ACS Estimates)

Population

Number

Percentage

[Population 18 years and over]

[5,045,148]

 

Population 5 years and over:

6,108,770

100.00%

Speak only English

4,823,127

 

78.95%

 

Total LEP Population (people who speak English "less than very well”)

531,962

 

8.71%

 

 

 

Spanish or Spanish Creole

202,419

3.31%

 

Portuguese or Portuguese Creole

89,201

1.46%

 

Chinese

49,773

0.81%

 

Russian

17,628

0.29%

 

Vietnamese

23,121

0.38%

 

French Creole

22,792

0.37%

 

Italian

12,559

0.21%

 

Mon-Khmer, Cambodian

12,023

0.20%

 

Source: American Community Survey 2010 5-Year Estimates (2006-2010)


 

Table 2(B): Detailed LEP Population Data at the State and Regional Level (2006-2010 American Community Survey Estimates) [7]

[Population 18 years and over]

Population 5 years and over

Speak only

English

Spanish or Spanish Creole

French Creole

Italian

Portuguese or Portuguese Creole

Russian

Chinese

Mon-Khmer, Cambodian

Vietnamese

Massachusetts

Number

[5,045,148]

6,108,770

4,823,127

457,990

53,724

48,184

180,975

36,252

98,735

23,023

35,306

 

Percentage

 

100.00%

78.95%

7.50%

0.88%

0.79%

2.96%

0.59%

1.62%

0.38%

0.58%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts Speak English  “less than very well”

 

 

 

 

 

202,419

22,792

12,559

89,201

17,628

49,773

12,023

23,121

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

% of Language Speakers who Speak English “Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

 

44.20%

42.42%

26.06%

49.29%

48.62%

50.41%

52.22%

65.49%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determined by Using Berkshire County Data.

Number

105,190

125,395

116,576

3,359

18

628

306

157

84

176

67

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

 1,471

8

209

147

73

48

48

67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determined by using Middlesex County Data.

Number

1,160,024

1,394,656

1,064,006

71,863

13,455

 

15,712

43,733

11,530

36,874

12,824

7,392

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

27,074

5,636

4,820

23,738

4,347

16,752

6,583

4,227

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Determined by Using Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket County Data.

Number

199,473

232,957

214,325

3,623

640

671

5,039

757

547

106

277

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

783

140

62

2,516

311

183

44

230

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Determined by using Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire County Data.

Number

537,905

 

 

653,763

532,168

68,559

623

2,255

5,106

5,882

2,956

1,486

2,694

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

54,257

147

654

2,375

3,250

1,632

928

1,848  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Determined by using Suffolk County Data.

Number

577,798

665,486

420,647

113,328

18,016

6,797

16,435

5,681

21,997

1,309

10,234

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

58,217

8,863

 2,234

9,745

3,597

13,016

766

7,411

 

 

 

Population 18 years and over

Population 5 years and over

Speak only English

Spanish or Spanish Creole

French Creole

Italian

Portuguese or Portuguese Creole

Russian

Chinese

Mon-Khmer, Cambodian

Vietnamese

Determined by Using Worcester County Data.

Number

602,007

744,196

616,486

52,106

2,094

2,990

12,131

1,438

6,027

406

4,885

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

 25,440

 637

871

6,564

721

 3,222

239

3,704

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determined by using Bristol and Plymouth County Data.

Number

791,017

976,117

817,235

33,396

10,862

2,784

79,128

792

2,215

2,336

2,472

 

Estimate of Language Speakers who speak English "Less Than Very Well”

 

 

 

 12,613

4,710

711

34,605

297

914

1,219

1,345

 

 

 Update of Table 2(A) Language Speakers for ACS Estimated Populations 5 Years and Over who Speak English “Less Than Very Well”


 

 

Additional LEP Population Identification Methods:

 

As some of DHCD’s administering entities have regional service areas that cover more than one county, one method for adequately estimating LEP populations by service area is to rely on the county with the highest LEP population.  Such a method has been used for DHCD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. 

 

Furthermore, administering entities are advised (see Appendix) to make further efforts to collect information i.e., through program applications, rent re-certification, and surveys, to determine the language groups that they are most likely to be encounter, by service area, and that may require language assistance.  For example, DHCD is now requiring under its Section 8 HCV program that each regional administering entity (RAA) ask applicants and residents to identify their primary language and language communication needs upon selection from the waitlist (for new applicants) and at recertification (for existing residents).

 

DHCD and other state agencies have also engaged in survey methods to determine LEP needs by service and regional areas.  DHCD has engaged in more preliminary and informal surveying of administering entities such as the Regional Administering Agencies (RAAs), Community Action Agencies, and Housing Consumer Education Centers.  The Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) also conducted a language access evaluation for the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), which includes a useful DTA identification of top language needs by regional area.

 

 

V.        Types of Assistance Needed/Language Assistance Methods

 

Contacts between DHCD or its administering entities and persons with LEP are primarily phone calls, meetings, and written communications where information is exchanged.  Examples include interactions by applicants with administering entity staff during the application process leading up to program participation, as well as periodic contacts and notices related to initial program eligibility, continuing eligibility, and termination from the program.  Oral interpretation services may be needed for these contacts, and must be provided for these interactions depending on the nature and importance of the information being provided, as well as the availability of resources. Other contacts involve the exchange and review of printed materials, some of which must be translated because they are considered “vital documents” as discussed further below.  A listing of the types of DHCD program documents that may be considered vital documents include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

 

The majority of contacts with persons with LEP concerning DHCD programs occur directly through the administering entities rather than with DHCD program staff.  The Appendix of this document is intended to provide guidance to the administering entities in planning for and responding to the communication needs of diverse LEP populations.  DHCD will also actively pursue broadening LEP access to its programs, including in the key areas described below.

 

A.        Inventorying Vital Documents for Translation

 

DHCD has engaged in the process of inventorying vital DHCD program documents across all of its divisions.  HUD regards vital documents as “any document that is critical for ensuring meaningful access to the recipients’ major activities and programs by beneficiaries generally and LEP persons specifically.”  DHCD will periodically review and update this inventory to reflect the documents that are vital to program applicants and participants.   

 

B.        Identifying Languages and Planning for Translation

 

Due to the significant costs involved, the translation of vital documents into numerous identified languages will require a multi-year process.  Furthermore, due to the limitations of U.S. Census/ACS data (see section IV above) in identifying the appropriate languages for translation, DHCD divisions will continue to make efforts to identify languages frequently encountered through its programs.  DHCD will also continue its efforts in translating its program documents, primarily having focused on Spanish translations in order to accommodate the largest identified LEP population in Massachusetts, and other top languages.  DHCD has been translating program documents into various languages over the last several fiscal years in consultation with program staff and will continue to translate in FY 2013and thereafter, subject to future planning updates.  DHCD will post translated documents on its website and will notify administering entities as relevant DHCD documents have been translated.  DHCD’s website also currently includes the Google Translate tool and an accompanying disclaimer.  Said tool includes language translation options of website content that may be helpful to some users in learning about DHCD and its programs; however, DHCD makes no representations, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy and/or completeness of such translated material.

 

C.        Utilizing Interpreter Services and Identifying Further Resources

DHCD will utilize bilingual staff resources as well as services which demonstrate a high degree of training and professionalism, including vendor services that have been approved by the Commonwealth, in order to accommodate necessary and direct communications between DHCD staff and persons with LEP.  DHCD staff protocols were developed and are used to instruct DHCD staff on the use of agency staff (as identified) for interpretation and translation assistance, as well as the use of over-the-phone interpretation services, in-person interpretation services, and translation services.  Said protocols include guidance on requesting and utilizing new or existing contracts with professional interpreters and translators approved as vendors by the Commonwealth.  Additional protocols are outlined in the Appendix.

Procedures for utilizing and prioritizing interpreter services are further explained in the Guidance below (see Appendix).  DHCD will also work with administering entities to identify community groups, non-profits, and other organizations that may serve as a cost-effective resource for such entities when necessary and appropriate for their communication with persons with LEP.

 

D.        Notice

DHCD has translated key phrases into various languages, available for inclusion in notices and/or documents not yet translated to notify persons with LEP of important and legal documents and of access to free language assistance.  Although DHCD’s office generally no longer accepts walk-ins, a notice of free language assistance (for use with I-Speak Cards) was translated into various languages for other agency offices that receive walk-ins.  .

VI.       LEP Coordination and Complaint Procedures

Given the extent and variation of DHCD programs and populations served, LEP coordination will occur at the DHCD Division level.  Within each division, a lead staff person will coordinate LEP efforts for that division, including identifying and responding to language assistances needs and complaints.  DHCD’s Legal division will assist DHCD division staff as needed and will continue to provide staff trainings regarding language access obligations, protocols, and complaint resolution, including on an ongoing basis to address new staff.  Complaints may also be filed with the Commonwealth’s Office of Access and Opportunity.   In the event that a complaint cannot be resolved by DHCD, the Office of Access and Opportunity will seek to resolve the complaint as appropriate.[8]

 

VII.     Monitoring

DHCD will continually assess and update its LAP as needed, including upon additional identification of languages and types of vital documents that require translation, as well as necessary modifications resulting from stakeholder consultations or changes in statutory and/or administrative requirements.

 

DHCD also plans to seek certifications and may engage in periodic quality control reviews to ensure that its administering entities are appropriately creating and implementing LAPs as discussed in the Appendix.

 

VIII.    Stakeholder Consultations

DHCD consulted stakeholders, including fair housing advocates, in the creation of this LAP. With respect to ongoing implementation of this LAP, DHCD will consult and engage stakeholders such as the quasi-public housing agencies and advocacy and community-based organizations that assist persons with LEP, as well as public housing, private housing, community service, and emergency assistance stakeholders.

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX

 

DHCD LAP GUIDANCE TO PROGRAM ADMINISTERING ENTITIES

 

Administering Entity Adoption of a Language Assistance Plan (LAP): 

 

Each DHCD program administering entity (“administering entity”) is required to create a LAP as a minimum standard for addressing the needs of their LEP populations.  Such entities must create and implement their LAPs in a manner that responds to the specific needs of the eligible LEP populations they serve.  As DHCD is a recipient of federal assistance and is therefore subject to HUD’s Final Guidance, DHCD is requiring that all entities comply with HUD’s Final Guidance while administering DHCD programs.  It is important to note that many of such entities are also recipients of federal assistance, and as such will have independent obligations to comply with HUD’s Final Guidance.

 

DHCD’s guidance herein is intended to provide further instruction, and not to substitute or minimize HUD requirements.

 

As indicated above, the HUD’s Final Guidance establishes a four-part test for evaluating compliance:

 

1)      The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the program or grantee;

2)      The frequency with which LEP persons come in contact with the program;

3)      The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program, or the greater the possible consequences of the contact to the LEP persons; and

4)      The resources available to the grantee/recipient and costs.

 

All administering entities must engage in HUD’s four-part analysis, and must document such analysis.  Elements of the above-cited components of the test are incorporated into the guidance provided below.

 

 

A.        Identifying Programmatic Contact with LEP Persons

 

 

 

B.        Establishing Staff Protocols for Communication with LEP Persons

 

Administering entities must create written protocols and procedures for the agency and specifically for front line staff most likely to encounter LEP persons.  The protocols must address potential communications by phone, in-person, and in writing.  Such protocols should include instruction on:

 

 

To assist staff in complying with protocols, administering entities are strongly encouraged to designate an LEP coordinator.

C.        Providing Notice to LEP Persons

 

To ensure that LEP persons are aware of the language services available to them, the following actions should be taken:

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.        Language Assistance: Oral Interpretation and Written Translation

 

 

Administering entities must continually assess resources that are available for reasonably ensuring that LEP persons have meaningful program access.  DHCD recognizes that many administering entities will find that their available financial resources are insufficient to fully provide such access at this time, or that the costs imposed would substantially exceed the benefits.  Therefore, administering entities must determine methods for utilizing alternative resources, and prioritize the use of their available financial resources for situations where alternative resources are not available or are insufficient.  For example, DHCD encourages administering entities to make use of staff resources and to establish a network of volunteers, including with like or partner agencies, to assist in situations where interpretation or translation is needed.

 

I. Oral Interpretation

 

LEP individuals must be informed that the administering entity will provide them with free access to oral interpretation services via bilingual administering entity staff or qualified, trained organizations or contractors as needed.  Oral interpretation must be provided in a timely manner (must not effectively deny or cause an undue burden or delay relating to important services, benefits, or rights) and must only be provided by competent interpreters.  See HUD’s Final Guidance for further discussion on interpreter competency and appropriate use of interpreters.

 

Oral Interpretation – Staff:  Where feasible, administering entity should use bilingual staff to communicate with LEP individuals in their primary languages, including assisting such individuals with understanding program materials and filling out forms, answering questions about the program, and responding to submission of materials and information requests.  At the present time, many administering entities employ bilingual staff members. For example, languages spoken by the Regional Administering Agency (Section 8) employees include Spanish, Russian, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Khmer, French Creole (Haitian and Cape Verdean), Mandarin, Vietnamese, Khmer (Cambodian), Yoruba (Nigerian) and Laos.  Administering entities are encouraged to consider the language needs of their populations during the staff recruitment process and when making hiring decisions, and may include the ability to speak a language other than English among their hiring priorities.  While multilingual staff members are a valuable resource, DHCD also encourages administering entities to be mindful of creating a burden on staff members who volunteer for interpreting services. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II.  Written Translation

 

Administering entities must translate documents that are vital to meaningful program access.  As stated above, HUD regards vital documents as “any document that is critical for ensuring meaningful access to the recipients’ major activities and programs by beneficiaries generally and LEP persons specifically.”  Meaningful program access generally requires awareness of, and ability to participate in, procedures for applying to the program, for meeting the requirements of the program, and for enjoying the benefits of the program.  Meaningful program access also requires awareness of rights and services; otherwise, LEP persons may effectively be denied such access.  HUD’s Final Guidance specifies the following as a “safe harbor” for written translations discussed above. 

 

Written or “vital documents” could include:

 

“Vital documents” under DHCD programs may include: notices concerning program eligibility, compliance or violation of program requirements as well as notices of termination and ineligibility; verification materials; request forms; and appeal notices and decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E.        Timing Related Rights

 

An LEP person must in no way be penalized or denied meaningful and effective access because of an administering entity’s inability to provide timely translation or interpretation services. This would include “stopping the clock” during the application or appeal process to allow time for translation and/or interpretation.

 

 

F.         Staff Training and Coordination

 

 

 

 

 

G.        Monitoring and updating the Language Access Plan

 

Each year, administering entities should review and update its LAP, if needed.  The review should assess:

 

 

 

 

 

 

H.        Certification to DHCD

 

All administering entities must certify to DHCD that they have created and are implementing a LAP tailored to the DHCD programs it administers and the LEP populations that it serves.  DHCD will incorporate certification requirements into its grant awards and funding renewal processes.

 



[1] This Appendix is similar to the July 2009 LAP that was created for DHCD’s Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

[2] Note: other providers, such as family homeless shelters, also provide stabilization assistance in collaboration with DHCD.

[3] Note that the U.S. Census Bureau data did not distinguish by Chinese language types.

[4] Based on the regions of the Regional Administering Agencies (regional non-profits).

[5] See relevant tables at http://factfinder2.census.gov/ for the particular margins of error.

 

[6] Note that translated phrases referenced in section V (D) below include Arabic, Korean, Polish, and other languages beyond the 8 LAP languages.

[7] See FN 6.

[8] See Administrative Bulletin #16 by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (ANF).