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Housing Access Program presented in Spanish!

Exciting News! Bread for the City has launched a monthly Housing Access Program (HAP) Clinic that is presented entirely in Spanish.

This session takes place once a month on the 4th Monday of the month at our Northwest Center.

There is no denying that Washington DC is in a severe housing crisis. As reported in DCist in December 2016: “While 77 percent of the D.C. renters who need affordable housing have extremely low incomes, only 39 percent of affordable apartments backed by the city with public dollars since 2010 are within reach of these families.”

At Bread for the City, we are acutely aware of the long, stressful process of securing deeply affordable housing in DC. Waiting lists for available apartments are often two or more years long. For years, we have heard from clients that navigating the steps to find and apply for affordable housing is arduous – and even more so if you are not a native English speaker.

Our Spanish speaking clients voiced their concerns: they wanted to attend our regular housing clinic but couldn’t because of the language barrier. We listened, and subsequently launched a Spanish-language version of our Housing Access Program (HAP).  All of the forms and presentations we used in our English HAP sessions were translated into Spanish, plus we made sure that the documents we shared were culturally appropriate.

Before clients sign up for Spanish HAP, program coordinator Patricia Gonzalez explains the program and, together with the client, determines if it is something that the client would benefit from.

During Spanish HAP clinics, clients have the opportunity to review all of the housing opportunities in DC. The clinic also covers what clients will need in order to apply to the apartment buildings that are accepting applications to their waiting lists. For every client, we provide a list of buildings with open waitlists and for which the client qualifies. Clients can apply on their own or make an appointment with Patricia to complete the application together.

Going above and beyond is something that comes naturally to us here at Bread for the City. A great example of this is Patricia’s work with Mrs. P., a Spanish speaking HAP client.

Patricia helped Mrs. P. complete an application for an apartment building. She then followed up to find out if the client had yet made an appointment to submit the application. When it had not been done, Patricia called and not only made the appointment for Mrs. P., but also asked the building management if the client was going to be able to communicate with them when she dropped off the application. The building’s management said that no one there spoke Spanish, so no one would be able to assist Mrs. P. with her submission.

Since Patricia did not want our client to lose the opportunity to submit the application, she accompanied her to the appointment to assist. The application was successfully submitted.

In this current political climate, we stress to clients that they do not have to have legal immigration status to participate in HAP. We can often refer them to an individual or organization that can provide legal help with immigration status.

Both new and existing Bread for the City clients can join HAP and oftentimes, clients are referred to HAP by our own Legal or Medical Clinic.

Because the HAP clinic is held during work hours, many clients are interested but unable to take time off to attend. That’s not a problem! If a client can’t make it to one of the scheduled housing clinics, they can call Patricia and set up an appointment to meet at their convenience.

There are not very many organizations in DC with housing access programs conducted entirely in Spanish and this led our client Mr. M. to express that he is “glad that Bread for the City has the program in Spanish. I am grateful to get information I did not previously have.”

Help us spread the word among DC’s Spanish-speaking community about the Spanish HAP Clinic at Bread for the City. We want the community to know that they can come to BFC and get help with the process of finding housing and getting on wait lists. Interested clients should contact Patricia Gonzalez at 202-386-7091 or pgonzalez@breadforthecity.org.

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