The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced today the addition of Mandarin, Cantonese, Haitian Creole, Korean and Russian translations of listings on the Affordable Housing Hotline. The hotline provides listings of affordable homes and apartments available through the City’s Housing Lottery system. All of the new affordable housing funded by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing, is sold or rented through a lottery system managed by HPD and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Interested applicants can find out about open lotteries by calling 311 and asking for the Affordable Housing Hotline in any of the languages available, which until today have been English and Spanish. The hotline can be also accessed by dialing directly the following numbers:
HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan said, “With the expansion of the affordable housing hotline to add five more foreign languages, more Limited English Proficient New York City residents will have information to apply for affordable units created by Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan. The Plan is the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history. This and other initiatives such as the recent release of an online 311 housing complaint lookup tool are oriented to better serve hard-working immigrant families who make New York City’s neighborhoods exciting and diverse. It will allow them to continue sharing in the City’s economic success through new affordable housing opportunities.”
When users call the hotline they will hear a recorded message explaining the type of information available in the recordings, giving instructions on how to connect to listings for specific boroughs and how to obtain an application for each lottery development,and informing them of command keys they can use to navigate through the listings. The hotline is updated every time a new lottery is opened. Users can also learn about the lotteries by visiting HPD’s website at www.nyc.gov/hpd or looking for ads published in city-wide and local newspapers.
According to the 2000 US Census Bureau, 48 percent of city households speak a language at home other than English. In 2006, housing-related calls were among the 3 top kind of calls received from Limited English Proficient (LEP) customers to 311, the City’s Customer Service Center, which offers translation services in over 170 languages.
The launch of a multilingual affordable housing hotline is a milestone in a HPD’s language access initiative that involves staff across the agency to provide meaningful access to quality housing information to city residents who are non-English speaking or LEP. The language access initiative involves a comprehensive set of inter-office and inter-agency actions, including:
- Implementing a LEP audience focused campaign called “Taking it to the Streets” to bring HPD’s program and services to neighborhoods with dense immigrant populations across the city, offering staff-guided educational displays and information on a range of issues.
- Updating and expanding HPD’s written materials in multiple languages which are disseminated to a host of community organizations.
- Improving the multilingual capabilities of HPD’s Housing Inspectors. More than 200 out of 400 housing inspectors are bilingual, speaking 30 languages. Housing inspectors use a language card that allows them to identify which language a non-English speaking or LEP tenant speaks and to request appropriate free interpretation services by phone. A 24-hour a day, 7-day a week language translation service is available to HPD’s inspectors and office staff. It offers translation into 150 languages. Also, HPD’s inspectors carry brochures in five commonly-used languages other than English.
- Tracking and monitoring languages uses through 311, the City’s Customer Service Center and Code Enforcement reports, and the volume of usage of non-English languages pages on HPD’s website to check the effectiveness of these outreach measures.
- Training staff members at HPD’s head office and code enforcement offices in language access tools, including use of telephone interpretation services and of the language identification card, to better assist tenants who speak a language other than English.
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The Department of Housing Preservation and Development's mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. The department is the nation's largest municipal housing development agency and is implementing Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years. The New Housing Marketplace Plan is the largest municipal affordable housing effort in the nation's history. HPD also encourages the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards.