Lynn will spend $800,000 on translation services

LYNN – The city will spend $800,000 over the next three years on language services to meet an apparent need and comply with the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) requirement for outreach and community contribution .

City Council voted unanimously at a meeting on Tuesday to approve the language engagement specialist initiative proposed by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Faustina Cuevas and Chief Financial Officer Michael Bertino.

“It was very obvious that after housing, language access was a big concern,” Cuevas said.

Since starting her work in June, she has held meetings with several community members, reviewed transcripts from the 2020 Social Justice Listening Sessions, and spoken to a few nonprofits that serve groups. underrepresented in Lynn.

People felt they didn’t have access to staff speaking their language at City Hall or other city services in Lynn, Cuevas said, including health care and housing, causing them to prevented access to these services.

Under the new pilot initiative, backed by Mayor Thomas M. McGee, the city will hire five language specialists, fluent in six languages: Arabic, Bengali, Khmer, Haitian Creole, Spanish and Portuguese. The city has already put out a request for proposals (RFP) to contract a host organization that could take care of the hiring and all the logistics.

The tender that closed on October 13 had very specific requirements: 10 years of experience with translation services and 20 years of working with communities of color. The city received an application from a well-known non-profit community organization. Cuevas said the city would be able to reveal the name of the organization once the contract is awarded.

Language specialists will work 30 hours a week, spending half their time doing oral and written translation at City Hall, helping Lynn residents with their problems. During the other half of the week, they will work with the residents of the non-profit organization, tending to their needs.

The approved $800,000 will be spent over three years on salaries and cell phones that will be used to answer calls from residents.

The first job these translators will be involved in will be engaging with communities to demonstrate the need for ARPA funding, Cuevas said. This community outreach and community contribution is a requirement of ARPA to access federal funds. At the same time, federal funding will help continue to support the community with language services.

Cuevas hopes the program will start operating by the end of the year.

“This is long overdue and I think we’re going to see a huge benefit for our community, ensuring they get the services they need and get the information they need in their preferred language. “, said Cuevas.

Connie A. Bailey