Culturally and Linguistically Competent Outreach
Across the country, the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Program Participants are identifying strategies to reach communities where residents were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing language access resources to those with limited English proficiency is critical to cutting barriers to program access.1 Many HAF Participants are offering support in multiple languages to meet their specific community needs. Treasury has provided resources to help expand access to those with limited English proficiency.
As HAF progresses, Treasury encourages all Participants to evaluate their outreach strategies to ensure that all homeowners in need have the opportunity to access HAF funds. Participants have made great strides through the life of the program to partner with community stakeholders, bring awareness to the programs and provide access to HAF resources for those in need. In addition to financial assistance, HAF can also offer access to housing counseling and legal services. Effective outreach can help homeowners connect to services that can help prevent foreclosure and support housing stability.
The HAF Guidance (page 9) addresses promoting access to all eligible households:
Equity and Accessibility: HAF participants should design programs to be as accessible as possible to homeowners in different circumstances, including by offering multiple intake formats, engaging with nonprofit organizations to provide additional pathways into the program, and providing culturally and linguistically relevant outreach.
Advantages to developing a comprehensive outreach strategy:
- Increases awareness of and access to the HAF program.
- Improves access for those with limited English proficiency.
- Increased awareness and access results in decreased foreclosures and financial instability.
- Increased access to both financial assistance and housing stability services.
- Builds strong partnerships and networks that enable homeowner engagement and foreclosure prevention efforts.
- Builds long term infrastructure to provide comprehensive and homeowner-focused services.
Improving access to the HAF program is vital to ensuring that financial assistance is distributed equitably and to all those in need.
Steps to Take
- ASSESS geographic and cultural landscape of your community to determine needs
- IDENTIFY homeowners in financial distress
- CREATE strategy to provide housing stability services
- OUTREACH to identified targets according to your developed strategy.
The following is a checklist to use as a guide in the evaluation of outreach strategy:
Have you completed a geographic analysis of where applications are coming from?Why this is important
High need areas with little to no HAF participation may indicate lack of awareness of the program.
Have you integrated a plan to support for those with limited English proficiency (LEP) (see guidance provided by Treasury and the LEP Committee)?Why this is important
Participants must address the language needs of the limited English proficient (LEP) people they serve. Visit LEP.gov for more information.
Have you identified trusted community based organizations with high levels of cultural and linguistic competencies?Why this is important
Community based organizations often have a deep understanding of the community they serve and are trusted by residents. Cultural and linguistic competencies ensure increased access to HAF in your community. This may also apply to trusted organizations that work with homeowners and other key stakeholders.
Have you identified community partners that serve marginalized populations?Why this is important
Partnerships are critical especially when working with immigrant populations, the elderly, domestic violence and human trafficking survivors, and other marginalized communities.
Have you partnered with other state government departments, such as Human Services, that provide supportive services to homeowners?Why this is important
Other state government departments will have access to a variety of different listservs and information. It's also an opportunity to combine financial resources and services.
Have you contacted homeowners associations?Why this is important
Enables homeowner engagement and program visibility.
Have you made your application accessible through multiple channels?Why this is important
Application accessibility accounts for those with or without technology capability – online, in person, and over the phone.
Have you developed a marketing strategy with a diverse portfolio of channels to advertise HAF?Why this is important
A variety of advertisements i.e. social media, tv, radio, newspaper, mailed postcards, etc., will ensure you are promoting awareness to those harder to reach.
Have you hosted events geared toward homeowners?Why this is important
Enables homeowner engagement, promoting awareness of available resources.
Have you advertised in public places?Why this is important
Posting flyers in public places frequented by homeowners, such as libraries and grocery stores, may reach those who cannot receive advertisements through radio, tv, or social media.
Determine if your HAF Program has an established outreach strategy
- Are there ways to evaluate your strategy for equity and effectiveness?
- Are the right people, organizations, or community groups involved to execute your strategy?
Determine if a COVID-19 Pandemic Impact Questionnaire can be used in your HAF Program
- Determine who uses the questionnaire and how often it is used to evaluate and adjust your strategy.
- Are there specific factors that might impact how the considerations are executed?
- Are there other considerations that might bring increased success?
Examples of Partnerships
The State of New York integrated an analysis of neighborhoods with a high concentration of homeowners who meet the definition of Socially Disadvantaged to identify twenty-two community-based organization representing more than ten languages to engage in specialized outreach activities within the state. These partners have helped promote the HAF program at community meetings and through targeted flyers and educational sessions. The program also integrates additional limited English proficiency (LEP) support from housing counselors and legal services partners. The state's broader marketing campaign also incorporates analysis of LEP and other micro-communities facing homeowner distress and has featured relevant bus stations, print, and social media ads focused in areas where distressed homeowners have historically experienced barriers to accessing assistance.
Examples of Data Driven Outreach
The State of Rhode Island assessed homeowner need based upon a set of six criteria: housing cost burden, concentration of non-white population, concentration of Hispanic population, foreclosure rate, homeowners earning less than $75,000 per year, and mortgage delinquency. The state reached out to homeowners in communities with the highest need by partnering with local community-based organizations, developing marketing resources, and deploying staff members to low-income and socially disadvantaged communities to assist homeowners, in particular people without access to or experience with the technology needed to apply for assistance.
The State of Tennessee has built into its HAF program capabilities to analyze the impact of HAF programs in real-time, allowing it to monitor the impact of HAF in high-need areas and adjust outreach strategies. As the program progresses, metrics will be reviewed to determine whether additional efforts are needed to reach and serve target populations. If the state determines additional targeted marketing is needed, it will consider hiring a marketing partner that specializes in LEP and minority consumer audiences to ensure the HAF program is reaching borrowers that have historically been underserved by the conventional market.
1Languages spoken by an individual are considered a characteristic of their national origin and under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, grantees must provide LEP persons meaningful access to the federally funded programs, services, and activities. Denial of access to a grantee’s federally funded programs, services, and activities because of a person’s LEP status is a form of national origin discrimination prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Treasury’s implementing regulations at 31 CFR Part 22.