City Announces Improvements To Welcome More Limited-English Speakers To City Hall
NEW ORLEANS – The City of New Orleans announced a series of improvements to the lobby of City Hall to welcome and better serve all of its residents. A large multilingual welcome sign, international flags and an electronic directory with offices listed in English, Spanish and Vietnamese were installed earlier this year.
“New Orleans is an welcoming and inclusive city to all its residents and visitors,” Mayor Landrieu said. “These improvements to City Hall are important to ensuring that our limited-English proficient visitors have better access to City resources. Since taking office, my administration has committed to streamlining City services to create a better, faster and easier experience. I want to thank our partners on the New Orleans City Council, particularly Councilmember Cantrell, for championing this cause. With our tricentennial coming in less than two years, all eyes will be on New Orleans. This is another step forward in becoming the city we always knew New Orleans could be.”
New Orleans is one of 48 inaugural cities to join the White House Building Welcoming Communities Campaign. The improvements are part of a welcoming strategy laid out in the Welcoming Resolution, unanimously adopted by the New Orleans City Council at its Oct. 1, 2015, meeting with the leadership of District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell and the support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Cantrell introduced a resolution calling for more inclusive changes in the City for those who speak limited English.
Cantrell and the Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office have worked with many community organizations on concerns related to the City’s immigrant community.
“I applaud these concrete steps that will level the playing field for all New Orleanians to access city services,” District B Councilmember Latoya Cantrell said.
Puentes|LatiNOLA Executive Director Carolina Hernández said “Puentes|LatiNOLA has worked with the City of New Orleans since the beginning of our advocacy efforts on behalf of the Latino immigrant community on ways to improve access to everyday city services and I am so very happy to see this work take a significant first step forward in creating a truly welcoming and international city government.”
Since the resolution’s adoption in October, the City has joined the White House’s Building Welcoming Communities Campaign; increased the utilization of language access services in 311 by 21 percent in 2015; implemented New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) interpreter program offering a 5 percent pay differential to certified bilingual officers; and amended NOPD’s electronic reporting system to include when language access is provided, in what form, and in which language.
Director of VIET and the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana Cyndi Nguyen said “I am truly excited that city government continues to work hard to support our community. This is a true testament that the City of New Orleans welcomes diversity. I would like to thank all of the city council members and the Mayor for their efforts.”
Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana Mayra Pineda said “On behalf of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and the Hispanic business community, we commend the efforts of Councilmember Cantrell and Mayor Mitch Landrieu. These improvements are long overdue and will be welcomed by the community.”
Daesy Behrhorst, Co-Facilitator of the Latino Forum and the Louisiana Language Access Coalition said “The new lobby improvements of City Hall are one more step toward promoting full and meaningful participation in public life and in the right direction to reducing the barriers based on language, for all people!”