Flint, MI – Officials and community leaders announce a partnership that will help provide Spanish language services at city hall and certain events — Something that Latinx leaders say is a move toward closing information gaps.

“For years, we’ve been talking about the issues of language access and the negative consequences when they aren’t accessible,” said Latinx Technology and Community Center Center Executive Director Asa Zuccaro during a Sept. 29. 2022 press conference. “We know the barrier that can play and the negative health outcomes as a result of being unable to access programs or services. I’m excited to be able to address this barrier in Flint.”

Zuccaro said “gracias” to Neeley and the center’s community advocates at the press conference, thanking them for understanding the importance of language services in governmental entities.

According to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data, the Latino community represents about 4.7 percent of Flint’s estimated population of 80,000 people. In the past, officials have said that the Latino population more than doubles when you consider the undocumented community.

Neeley said that the city partnered with the Latinx Center to improve the accessibility of city services and communications to Spanish-speaking residents.

“This is an act that we’re moving forward to make sure that all sectors of this city understand they’re valued in this community. We are the sum of all our parts and we are so much stronger together than divided,” Neeley said.

Latinx Center interpreters will work alongside the bilingual public health and information desk clerk, Connie Steller, at city hall for onsite and phone translation.

According to a press release from the city, Steller has been helping Spanish-speaking residents navigate the city’s services since 2017. Neeley said that Steller will continue providing these services in addition to her other duties, but the city’s partnership with the Latinx Center will help them translate their other communications.

The city will also invite Latinx Center translators to some events, where they will listen to English speakers and simultaneously translate their words into Spanish. Spanish-speaking audience members will have the option to follow along by listening to the interpreters through earpieces provided by the Latinx Center at these events.

Neeley said city staff are working on a schedule of events that they believe will need Spanish language services.

Neeley said that the city will start providing these translation services as soon as they can, adding that the city council will not need to pass a budget amendment approving these services as the money will come from the previously approved general fund budget.

Zachary Marano

Zachary Marano is Flint Beat’s local government reporter. Zack is originally from Milford township and returns to southeast Michigan after reporting for a daily newspaper in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula....