More than 400,000 New Yorkers live in public housing developments run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).1 For them, NYCHA is property manager, landlord and super. NYCHA systems and staff are the points of interface for repair issues, rental payments, emergency information and more.
For NYCHA tenants with limited proficiency in English, navigating the policies, procedures and paperwork associated with their housing can be fraught with challenges. Issues of language access have serious implications. Tenants whose rents are raised incorrectly may be taken to housing court for non-payment of rent because they were not able to communicate with NYCHA to resolve the error. Tenants may be forced to miss work because they have to schedule repeated meetings in an attempt to communicate their needs. Victims of domestic violence who are in need of emergency housing transfers may not be able to make that need known. The safety of tenants' apartments can be jeopardized by a lack of language access in the repairs process. Crucial housing information, such as emergency protocols, may not reach tenants because they are not translated. Lack of language access impacts the day-to-day experience of tenants in interaction with NYCHA staff and their ability to participate meaningfully in the NYCHA community, perpetuating isolation.