Improving Access to Services for People with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
Language Assistance Plan (LAP)
For Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Persons
Revised January, 2021
Table of Contents
Who is Covered?.
Who is a Limited English Proficient Individual?.
p Identifying LEP Individuals Who Need Language Assistance.
p Language Assistance Measures.
p Summarization of SCCHA’s LAP Process.
p Training Staff
p Providing Notice to LEP Persons.
p Monitoring and Updating the LAP.
Exhibit 1: Obtaining an Interpreter or Translations.
Instructions for Obtaining Interpretation and Translation Services.
Interpreters are available for Informal Hearings.
Exhibit 2: Translated Documents.
Exhibit 3: ‘I Speak’ Cards.
Final Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons. (72 FR 2732)
“The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is publishing the final ‘Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient (LEP) Persons’ (Guidance) as required by Executive Order (EO) 13166. EO 13166 directs federal agencies that extend assistance, subject to the requirements of Title VI, to publish Guidance to clarify recipients’ obligations to LEP persons. This final Guidance follows publication of the proposed Guidance on December 19, 2003.’” Effective February 21, 2007 (72 FR 2731).
As published in the Federal Register on January 22, 2007, “Most individuals living in the United States read, write, speak and understand English. There are many individuals, however, for whom English is not their primary language. For instance, based on the 2000 census, over 26 million individuals speak Spanish and almost 7 million individuals speak an Asian or Pacific Island language at home. If these individuals have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English, they are limited English proficient, or ‘LEP.’ According to the US Census ACS, 25% of all Spanish and 39% Chinese speakers in Santa Clara County reported that they spoke English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’: over half of all Vietnamese-speakers said they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘at all.’
HUD follows basic principles to ensure that LEP individuals have access to housing programs. “First, HUD must ensure that federally assisted programs aimed at the American public do not leave some behind simply because they face challenges communicating in English. This is of importance because, in many cases, LEP individuals form a substantial portion of those encountered in federally assisted programs. Second, HUD must achieve this goal while finding constructive methods to reduce the costs of LEP requirements on small businesses, small local governments, or small non-profit entities that receive federal financial assistance” (72 FR 2738).
This report outlines how the Santa Clara County Housing Authority (SCCHA) provides language assistance to ensure that all persons have access to the agency’s programs and activities.
Limited English Proficiency person: Any person who does not speak English as their primary language and who has a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. Such person
or persons shall be entitled to language assistance at no cost to themselves with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter. This is based on the client’s assessment.
Vital document: .Any document that contains information that is critical for obtaining or maintaining the services or benefits that are supported by federal funds, or that are required by law. Such documents may include, but are not limited to applications, consent forms, notices of participant rights and responsibilities, disciplinary notices, letters or notices that require a response from the participant or beneficiary, legal notices, and notices advising LEP persons of the availability of free language services.
Interpretation: The act of listening to spoken words in one language (the source) and orally translating it into another language (the target).
Translation: The transcription of a written text from one language into an equivalent written text in another language. Note: Some LEP persons cannot read in their own language and oral interpretation services may be needed for written documents.
Four-Factor Analysis: Housing authorities are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to LEP persons. This standard is intended to be flexible and fact-dependent. It is also intended to balance meaningful access to critical services while not imposing undue financial burdens on small businesses, small local governments, or small nonprofit organizations.
HUD Recipient: Federally-assisted agencies receiving HUD funding. In this document,
“recipient” refers to SCCHA.
“This HUD policy is thus published pursuant to Title VI, Title VI regulations, and Executive Order 13166. It is consistent with the final DOJ ‘Guidance to Federal Financial Recipients regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons,’” published on June 18, 2002 (67 FR 4145).
“Pursuant to Executive Order 13166, the meaningful access requirement of the Title VI regulations and the four-factor analysis set forth in the LEP Guidance are to additionally apply to the programs and activities of federal agencies … Recipients of HUD assistance include, for example:
“Persons who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English can be limited English proficient, or ‘LEP,’ and may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter. Examples of populations likely to include LEP persons who are encountered and/or serviced by HUD recipients and should be considered when planning language services, but are not limited to:
Persons who are seeking housing assistance from a public housing agency or assisted
housing provider or are current tenants in such housing” (72 FR 2740).
HUD provides a four-factor analysis as a framework to identify LEP persons who need language services and to what extent. Data from this analysis enables SCCHA to evaluate which languages require document translation services, in addition to interpretation services, and which languages require only interpretation services, because they fall below the HUD threshold. With this insight, this LAP explains SCCHA’s language assistance measures, staff training and agency monitoring.
“For most recipients, the target audience is defined in geographic rather than programmatic terms. In many cases, even if the overall number or proportion of LEP persons in the local area is low, the actual number of LEP persons served by the program may be high.
Recipients of HUD funds are required by existing regulations to outreach, educate, and affirmatively market the availability of housing and housing-related services to eligible persons in the geographic area that are least likely to apply for and/or receive the benefit of the program without such outreach and education activities and/or affirmative marketing” (72 FR 2748).
“Frequency of contact should be considered in light of the specific program or the geographic area being served. Some education programs or complaint processing may only require a single or limited interaction with each LEP individual served. In contrast, housing, counseling, and housing supportive services programs require ongoing communication. In the former case, the type and extent of LEP services may be of shorter duration, even for a greater number of LEP persons, than in the latter case. Therefore, decisions must be made accordingly” (72 FR 2748).
“Importance of Service/Information/Program/Activity. Given the critical role housing plays in maintaining quality of life, housing and complementary housing services rank high on the critical/non-critical continuum. However, this does not mean that all services and activities provided by recipients of HUD must be equally accessible in languages other than English. For example, while clearly important to the quality of life in the community, certain recreational programs provided by a HUD-funded recipient may not require the same level of interpretive services as does the recipient’s underlying housing service. Nevertheless, the need for language services with respect to these programs should be considered in applying the four-factor analysis” (FR 72 2748).
“Costs vs. Resources and Benefit. The final factor that must be taken into account is the cost of providing various services balanced against the resources available to the HUD-funded recipient providing the service” (FR 72 2748). Financial considerations include the type of program. “There are some programs for which translation and interpretations are such an integral part of the funded program that services would be provided in some way to any client that requires them. In important programs or activities (e.g., tenant selection and assignment … fair housing complaint intake, conflict resolution between tenants and landlords, etc.) that require one-on- one contact, oral and written translations would be provided consistent with the four-factor analysis used earlier. Recipients could have competent bi-or multilingual employees, community translators, or interpreters to communicate with LEP persons in languages prevalent in the community. In some instances, a recipient may have to contract or negotiate with other agencies for language services for LEP persons” (FR 72 2748).
(Indicated by p)
Santa Clara County is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse counties in the United States. According to the 2014-2018 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, 55.1% of residents between 18 and 64 years of age in Santa Clara County speak a language other than English at home. SCCHA serves low-income county residents with limited English proficiencies that require a translator to utilize the agency’s services.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates the written translation of all required forms for certain linguistic groups of clients, based on their demographic representation in the area being served. The criteria determining the need for translated vital documents is as follows:
Table 1. Criteria determining the need for translated vital documents
Size of language group
Recommended provision of written language assistance
1,000 or more in the eligible population in the market area or among current beneficiaries
Translated vital documents
More than 5% of the eligible population or beneficiaries and more than 50 in number
More than 5% of the eligible population or beneficiaries and 50 or less in number
Translated written notice of right to receive free oral interpretation of documents.
5% or less of the eligible population or beneficiaries and less than 1,000 in number
No written translation is required.
Source: Federal Register, January 22, 2007 (2753)
There are 1,922,200 persons in Santa Clara County, according to the most current data from the US Census American Community Survey (ACS). Many of these people come from non-English speaking countries, or are descendants of people from such countries. As Table 2 below indicates, at 132,669 persons, persons of Vietnamese descent comprise almost 7% of Santa Clara County’s population. Persons of Chinese descent are 10% of the County’s population, or 193,928 out of a total of 1,922,200 persons. While Hispanic\Latino is an ethnicity and not a nationality, for purposes of comparison, we included this category of persons in the table below:
Table 2. Persons by select nationalities with non-English languages, including persons of Hispanic/Latino descent: Santa Clara County
Percentage of County population when more than one percent
Source: US Census ACS 5-Year 2014-2018 Annual Average, Tables B02015 (Asian alone By Selected Groups) and DP05 (Demographic and Housing Estimates)
While the table above identified the total number of persons by select nationality\ethnicity, the table below identifies how many persons in these categories speak English well or not well. Thus, of the 132,669 persons of Vietnamese descent in Santa Clara County, 116,654 are at least 5 years and, of these 72,173 do not speak English well. As a percent of the total, 54% of persons of Vietnamese descent in Santa Clara County do not speak English well or at all.
Table 3. Persons who speak English well and not well: persons by select nationalities with non-English languages, including persons of Hispanic/Latino descent: Santa Clara County
Sub-Total: Nos. of persons 5 year and older
Speaks English well
Does not speak English well
Does not speak English well as percent of total
Source: US Census ACS 5-Year 2014-2018 Tables B02015 (Asian alone By Selected Groups), DP05 (Demographic and Housing Estimates), and C16001 (Language Spoken At Home).
The following table includes data on the poverty status of persons who speak their native language at home. In Santa Clara County, there are 320,535 persons five years and older who speak Spanish in their homes, and, of these, 39,807 are in households with incomes below the poverty line. At 12.4 %, the poverty rate of persons who speak Spanish at home is four percentage points higher than the overall countywide poverty rate of 8.0%, underscoring the point that limited English-speaking abilities affects this community especially hard. In contrasts, the 8.4% poverty rate for persons who speak Asian\Pacific Islander languages at home is similar to the overall countywide rate of 8.0%, suggesting that, unlike the situation for Hispanics\Latinos in poverty, any number of factors including limited English-speaking ability equally contribute to Asian\Pacific Islander poverty.
Table 4. Poverty Status of Persons who speak English well and not well: Santa Clara County
Total Number of Persons 5 and Over
Total Number of Persons 5 and Over: In Poverty: Speaks At Home
Overall Poverty Rate By Language Spoken At Home
Distribution of Total Number of Persons 5 and Over
Distribution of Persons in Poverty Who Speak Language Other Than English at Home
Santa Clara County
Asian and Pacific Island languages
Other Indo-European languages
The table above shows another way that Spanish-speaking persons are especially affected by limited English-speaking abilities: while persons five years and above who primarily speak Spanish at home are 17.8% of all persons five and over in the County, Spanish-speaking persons in poverty are 27.6% of all persons (five and over) in poverty. In other words, Spanish-speaking persons are a significantly larger share of the total number of persons in poverty relative to their overall numbers across all income categories. Poverty level, as defined by the census, is primarily below SCCHA’s income eligibility definition of “extremely low” (30% of median household income).
If SCCHA considers the service area of Santa Clara County and the potential clients with qualifying low incomes, it is clear from the tables above that translation services are needed for all Spanish and Vietnamese language client vital documents. In SCCHA’s Elite database, program participants are tracked by their language proficiencies. In a SCCHA report generated from the database on August 4, 2020, 3,599 participants reported Vietnamese as their primary language instead of English, and 532 reported Spanish as their primary language. Therefore, vital Vietnamese language client documents must also be translated. Although current numbers of participants who speak Spanish as their primary language do not trigger written translations of vital documents, SCCHA management has requested that all vital client documents be translated into Spanish since 2005 when a four-factor analysis completed at the time indicated that the number of Spanish-speaking program participants was high enough to require vital document translation. And, the Agency wants to continue to provide this service to Spanish-speaking participants.
Other language preferences captured in the database include Mandarin (231), Russian (193), Farsi (65), and Korean (81). Mandarin, Russian, Farsi and Korean speakers each make up less than 5% of HACSC’s total number of participants and are each less than 1,000 in number. Therefore, these languages would not require vital document translations at this time. LEP individuals would receive telephone or in-person interpretation services for these languages for all vital written Agency documents, as well as for conversational communications between Agency staff and participants.
Table 5. Language preferences > (Elite 8-4-20) but less than 5% of eligible population
No written translation is required phone/in-person interpretation available
Languages requiring translated vital documents
Total SCCHA participants tracked
Source: SCCHA, Excel Reports (8-4-2020)
Based on this data, SCCHA is required to have vital document translations for Spanish (1,000 or more of the eligible population) and Vietnamese. Even though six of the language preferences in the database have a count above 50, they do not meet the 5% threshold. Therefore, SCCHA is only required to continue to provide vital document translations for Spanish and Vietnamese.
By comparison, language preference demographics for CalWORKs is outlined below. The primary languages spoken reflect the Census ACS 2014-2018 five-year annual average with English, Spanish and Vietnamese representing the largest language groups. CalWORKs demographics also mirror the translation requests at SCCHA. One notable difference is that CalWORKs lists the Spanish language group as much greater than the Vietnamese language group (Table 6). SCCHA has significantly more requests for Vietnamese translations and interpretations than for Spanish. Regardless of this order, both languages require translated vital documents for SCCHA participants and applicants.
Table 6. CalWORKS demographics countywide by language: 2019 Annual Average
Total participants tracked
Source: Santa Clara County DSS, "Quarterly Statistical Data of Public Assistance Families in Santa Clara County" (www.sccgov.org)
The Frequency with Which LEP Individuals Come in Contact With the Program
One way to determine frequency of contact is to look at the number of interpretation/translation services that have been provided. During the six months from July 1 to December 31, 2019, SCCHA’s contracted language services company provided phone interpretation services on 314 separate occasions (Table 7). The majority of these interpretation requests (172) were in Vietnamese, with 69 in Spanish. On average, there are 29 requests per month for over-the-phone interpretation services involving the Vietnamese language, with each call lasting approximately 16 minutes. Tenant training and outreach programs are conducted in Spanish and Vietnamese, which are determined by language preferences indicated on RSVPs from tenants.
Table 7. Distribution of Over-the-Phone Interpretation Calls By Language
Total Number of Calls and Total Call Volume Over First Six Months (July 1- Dec. 31) of FY 2019-2020
Average Monthly Number of Calls and Average Monthly Call Volume Over First Six Months (July 1 - Dec. 30) of FY 2019-2020
Distribution of Average Monthly Number of Calls and Average Monthly Call Volume Over First Six Months (July 1 - Dec. 30) of FY 2019-2020
Avg. Mos. Calls
Avg. Mos. Minutes
Avg. Mos. Calls: Distrib.
Avg. Mos. Minutes: Distrib.
While Vietnamese is the most-requested language when it comes to over-the-phone interpretative services, Chinese is the language into which most SCCHA documents are translated (Table 8). Over the course of Fiscal Year 2018-2019, SCCHA received 91 document translation requests, of which 23 were for translating documents in Chinese, 10 into Spanish, and 8 into Vietnamese
Table 8. Document Translation Language Trends: FY 2018-2019
Number of Document Translation Tasks
Distribution of Translation Tasks (only for those with known languages)
Aggregate Word Count
Distribution of Word Count (only for those with known languages)
Language not identified
Nature and Importance of Program or Service
Rental housing costs in Santa Clara County are among the highest in the nation. The average four-year rent increase per unit in Santa Clara County is 44.6% according to RealAnswers, an online housing data collection resource. In order to apply for or participate in subsidized housing programs offered by SCCHA, LEP persons must fill out multiple forms, understand and abide by numerous procedures and find scarce affordable housing.
At this time, SCCHA is able to provide document translation services for all languages that meet HUD quantitative guidelines. Interpretation will be available, as needed for LEP persons, through designated staff and a contracted language services provider.
Type of Program: “There are some programs for which translation and interpretation are an integral part of the funded program such that services should be provided in some way to any client that requires them. In important programs or activities (i.e., tenant selection and assignment, homeownership counseling, fair housing complaint intake, conflict resolution between tenant and landlords, etc.) that require one-on-one contact with clients, written translation and verbal interpretation services should be provided consistent with the four- factor analysis used earlier. Recipients could have competent bi-or multilingual employees or community translators, or interpreters to communicate with LEP persons in languages prevalent in the community. In some instances, a recipient may have to contract or negotiate with other agencies for language services for LEP persons” (FR 72 2748).
Oral Interpretation Services
1. All non-English speaking participants and applicants are entitled to and will be offered oral interpretation either by the in-house translator of the day or by phone through the contracted agency.
SCCHA staff training will include the following:
SCCHA will distribute the LAP and provide training to staff annually on how to assist a person with limited English proficiency. Additionally, the LEP plan will be part of the new staff orientation binder.
SCCHA’s protocol for accessing language services is as follows:
The Housing Authority will translate vital written documents into the language of each qualifying LEP group eligible to be served and/or likely to be affected by the program. Vital documents are written materials that contain awareness of rights or services to the programs that are translated to assist a person with LEP.
SCCHA will take the following steps to educate the LEP group of the free language services
SCCHA will conduct a needs assessment every three years to determine whether changes to the LAP are required. The following methodology will be utilized to measure the needs of people with limited English proficiency.
continued eligibility forms to identify the language preferences of LEP groups.
Check the rotation schedule for in-house interpreters and translators. How to call interpreters at Interpreters Unlimited
The Santa Clara County Housing Authority has entered in a contract with Interpreters Unlimited, who will handle all of our telephonic and on-site interpretations for persons speaking languages other than English and written translations of documents into our current Limited English Proficiency languages (Spanish and Vietnamese).
Please follow these instructions for obtaining A. Telephonic Interpretation Services; B. Written Translations; or C. On-Site Interpretation Services.
A. Telephonic Interpretations
B. Written Translations* (Operations staff will deposit documents needing translations to the mail slots for Spanish, Vietnamese and Other Languages. Assigned Administrative Assistant for Operations will follow the instructions below to request written translations.)
* 12 cents per word per language; no minimum word count.
** All languages except Spanish (including ASL) are $75 per hour with a 2-hour minimum. Spanish is $50 per hour with a 2-hour minimum.
*** This information is necessary for billing purposes
Exhibit 2: Translated Documents
The following list of documents are currently available to LEP participants in Spanish and Vietnamese as of Quarter 1 (January to March) of 2021.
The following list of Elite letters are currently available to LEP participants in Spanish and Vietnamese as of Quarter One (January to March) of Year 2021.
List of Non-Vital Documents
In accordance with factor 3 of the four-factor analysis, non-vital documents shall be translated when they affect “the recipient’s underlying housing service.” The following documents, translated into Vietnamese and Spanish, fall into this category.
List of Documents Scheduled for Translation and Outreach Efforts
other languages become LAP-designated languages, this phone message will be updated accordingly.