Testimony by State Senator José M. Serrano submitted as part of the Fair Housing Public Forum hosted by the Department of City Planning for the City of New York on December 14th, 2007
I would like to thank the members of the Board for giving me the opportunity to provide written testimony and participate in the public forum. I represent the State of New York 's 28th Senate District, which includes parts of the South Bronx, Highbridge, University Heights, East Harlem, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island. Although there are many issues related to Fair Housing in my district today I would like to raise an issue of discrimination related to language barriers.
According to the 2006 American Community Survey (ACS), there are 1,883,804 Spanish speaking residents throughout the five boroughs. Having said this, it has come to my attention that there is no formal requirement by NYCHA or private housing organizations to ensure that a Spanish speaking staff member is available to these residents.
We realize that NYCHA has recently implemented a program called the Language Bank that offers translation services in a number of different languages. While I think the Language Bank is a great idea and will work well in some situations, housing complexes where there is a dominant second language still have a need for a full time staff member who speaks that language.
In closing, it is critical that language barriers be discussed and included as part of the AFFH Statement. I look forward to working with the Department of City Planning and the various city agencies to ensure fair access to housing and housing related services across the City of New York.