The People's Budget Proposal
Immigrants contribute to our culture and community to make Long Beach the international city that it is today. That cultural diversity includes dozens of languages that are people’s connection to their culture and family. At the same time, our government should be responsive to the needs of the community and live up to our title as “The International City.”
In Long Beach, 45.5% of residents speak a language other than English at home. Even more, nearly one in four residents in the city speak English less than “very well.” This includes 62,814 Spanish speaking residents; 8,607 Khmer speaking residents; and 5,181 Tagalog speaking residents. For many of these residents, language becomes another barrier to community awareness and engagement.
This was the basis of our city leaders adopting a Language Access Policy in 2013 to have city services and documents accessible in Spanish, Khmer, and Tagalog. Providing government services to residents regardless of the language they speak increases community trust and ensures people can reliably get the help they need to be safe, participate in their community, and improve the quality of life.
Since 2013, the city council has approved limited funding that has prevented the policy from being fully implemented. This has resulted in limited access for non-English speaking residents at many city meetings, inconsistent and limited translation of documents across departments, and service calls with long wait times or no staff member available to assist in the required language. With a fully implemented policy, each city department could begin to include language access in their proposed budgets so access can be consistent throughout the city.
The People's Budget Solution
To effectively follow through with the commitment to the city-wide Language Access Policy, we ask for the adopted city budget to include an allocation of $1,028,572 for multilingual signage, interpretation needs, translation of vital documents and communications, and multilingual front desk staffing.