US: Housing Office Accused of Not Interpreting Documents

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Housing Office Accused of Not Interpreting Documents

A lawsuit has accused the Housing Authority in Jacksonville, Florida, of refusing to interpret documents for a local Hispanic resident, eventually leading to her eviction from an apartment complex. The plaintiff, Mailin Soto, was residing in the complex with the assistance of a U.S. Section 8 voucher. When she failed to report income from a new job within 10 days, the voucher was revoked. Soto said that when she signed the documents disclosing this provision, she did not understand the meaning because no one at the Housing Authority would interpret for her, even though she requested it. Soto and her attorneys claimed that the Housing Authority balked at interpreting the documents and that no written information was available in Spanish. The authority contends that Soto understood the agreement she signed and that there were interpreting services available from multiple Spanish-proficient agency employees, including the Section 8 program director. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires agencies to supply written translated documents wherever their eligible population includes 1,000 or more individuals with limited English fluency and a language in common. The Housing Authority has recently contracted with a company that provides telephone-based interpreting services and has designated an employee as the interpreter for Spanish-speaking clients. The authority has also posted a sign on its door in multiple languages stating that interpreting assistance is available.

From "Lawsuit: Housing Authority Won't Translate Documents"
Florida Times-Union (FL) (06/15/09) Conner, Deirdre

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - June 2009


 

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