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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Language Access
Type: Press Advisory

Study Finds Widespread Language Barriers at NY City's Benefits Offices

Study Finds Widespread Language Barriers at NY City’s Benefits Offices

Obstacles Prevent Low-Income New Yorkers from Accessing Food Stamps and


Legal Services for New York City (LSNY), Make the Road
New York, the New York Immigration Coalition, New York Lawyers for the Public
Interest and the New York Legal Assistance Group
invite you to a media briefing on a new report, Translation Woes: Language  Barriers at New York City’s Human Resources
, about widespread obstacles to services faced by the
one-in-four residents of New York City who are limited-English-proficient.  The study found civil rights violations at
many offices of the Human Resources Administration (HRA).  Additional speakers include Council Members
John Liu, Gale Brewer, Rosie Mendez, Hiram Monseratte and affected individuals.

Wednesday, December
12, 2007, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm


Steps of City Hall, New York City, NY

Four years after the passage of Local Law 73: the Equal Access to Human Services Act of 2003, which
mandates the provision of language services at HRA centers, our report
documents HRA’s failure to provide these vital services to limited English
proficient New Yorkers.  We surveyed all
69 HRA offices in New York City
and our report reveals widespread failure by HRA offices that administer vital
public benefits such as Food Stamps, Medicaid and Public Assistance, to communicate
with New Yorkers in a language they can understand.  As a result, vulnerable New Yorkers are
unable to enroll their families in important subsistence programs when they
face difficult times.  The report
documents that despite HRA’s financial investment in language services and
internal policies ensuring such services, many centers continue to turn away
applicants who do not speak English. 

About Legal Services
for New York City

LSNY is one of the country’s the largest providers of free
civil legal services for low-income individuals and families in the country and
is dedicated to providing high quality legal assistance in the areas of
housing, family law, public benefits, education, employment, consumer fraud,
foreclosure prevention, childcare and disability rights as well as for persons
with special needs such as victims of HIV and their families.  LSNY provides legal services through a
network of community based-offices located in low-income neighborhoods in New York City’s five
About Make the Road New York
Make the Road New York is a membership-based organization
that promotes economic justice, equity and opportunity for all New Yorkers
through community and electoral organizing, strategic policy advocacy,
leadership development, youth and adult education, and high quality legal and
support services.  Make the Road New York
has over 3000 members in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten

About the New York Immigration

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an
umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in
New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.  As the coordinating body for organizations
that serve one of the largest and most diverse newcomer populations in the United States,
the NYIC has become a leading advocate for immigrant communities on the local,
state, and national levels.

About New York Lawyers for the
Public Interest

Created in 1976 to address unmet legal needs, NYLPI is a nonprofit, civil rights law firm that blends innovative
lawyering and community organizing to promote social justice in the following
areas: Access to Health Care, including advocacy on behalf of individuals with
limited English proficiency; Environmental Justice and Community Development;
and Disability Rights.  The NYLPI Pro Bono Clearinghouse provides
community groups and nonprofit organizations with free legal assistance by
drawing on hundreds of volunteer lawyers from New York’s most prestigious law firms and
corporate law departments.

About New York Legal
Assistance Group

The New York Legal Assistance
Group (NYLAG) is a nonprofit organization that offers vulnerable New Yorkers
the legal help they critically need. NYLAG’s mission is to provide free, civil
legal services to poor and near poor individuals and families residing in the
five boroughs of New York City
who would otherwise be unable to access legal assistance. Since 1990, NYLAG has
been dedicated to providing legal services to underserved, impoverished
populations through direct representation, impact and class action litigation,
consultation and community education.