Nebraska Slapped for Failing to Aid Non-English Speakers

 In the midst of Fair Housing Month, HUD says it has reached an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development over the failure to provide outreach to people with limited English proficiency.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. This includes a requirement to ensure that programs and activities can be accessed by persons with limited English proficiency, in order to avoid discrimination based on national origin.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nebraska’s Hispanic population with limited English proficiency increased 77 percent between 2000 and 2010. In addition, the state is also experiencing growing populations of persons of Sudanese and Somali origin.

HUD reviewed the Nebraska DED’s operations for compliance with civil rights requirements and found that it had failed to comply with its LEP obligations under Title VI.

Between 2008-2010, the state of Nebraska administered more than $54.5 million in HUD funding. HUD’s review found that the state made no effort to provide access for limited proficiency residents to any HUD-funded programs, nor did it translate program documents, provide translation or interpretation services, or conduct any analyses to identify the needs of eligible non-English speaking persons.

HUD’s compliance review also determined that the state did not develop a language assistance plan to provide services to these persons, and revealed other deficiencies in the Nebraska DED’s monitoring of grant sub-recipients to determine if they were meeting their Title VI requirements.

“This agreement with the state of Nebraska reflects our mutual commitment to ensuring that all people have meaningful access to HUD-funded programs, regardless of their national origin,” said Bryan Greene, HUD Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with state governments and our other partners to ensure that persons with limited English proficiency aren’t unlawfully denied the services they need.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Nebraska DED will conduct an analysis and develop a language assistance plan identifying the LEP populations it serves and the ways in which it will provide language assistance, including document translation, interpretation at meetings, and community outreach. The Nebraska DED will also provide Title VI training to employees and sub-recipients of federal funding.

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