The Jewish Federation Apartments is a ‘humanitarian’ housing public service organization for the elderly, those who are 62 years and above, and those who may be impaired in terms of mobility, those who are 18 years or older. The Jewish Federation Apartments is a public service offering founded and run by the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo. Preservation of the elderly people’s dignity, safety and decency of the occupants of the apartments is the main aim for maintaining the Jewish Federation Apartments.
Through the years of activity, the Jewish Federation Apartments offer not only housing but also integrated social activities that encourage the apartments’ occupants to integrate not only with their family members, if any, and the community. Jewish Federation Apartments 1) Describe the agency’s mission statement. Identify the client base of the agency including the cultural groups The Jewish Federation Apartments was started by the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo to offer housing and humanitarian care to the elderly as well as those who may be mobility-impaired.
The main mission of the Jewish Federation Apartments organization is to offer public service to those aged 62 years and those who are 18 years and older and are mobility-impaired. The main mission is to safeguard the dignity, decency and safety of occupants while offering social services. In any given community or society the elderly and mobility-impaired may feel the need for loving care that would give them the feeling of being a ‘normal’ part of the community. As it may be noted, both the elderly and mobility-impaired may have a sense of need to move around like any other member of the community.
The mission of the Jewish Federation Apartments is to ensure that those who qualify to be tenants in the apartments get affordable housing in a safe environment and that their dignity and decency is sustained. Only those who are successful in qualifying for tenancy based on the Jewish tradition would attain residence in the Jewish Federation Apartments. The Board of Directors’, all offering their services voluntarily, goal is to ensure that the personal dignity, physical, emotional and spiritual life is of enhanced quality. These are all in the fulfillment of the Jewish Federation Apartments’ mission.
According to the president of the Jewish Federation Apartments, that I interviewed, the place is predominantly occupied by Jews but this may only be so due to the fact that the apartments are a public service offered by the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo. Another reason this may be so is due to the fact that qualification for occupancy/tenancy is guide by the Jewish tradition. This, and many factors, has seen the apartment’s occupancy be mainly of Jewish oriented persons, though there are other cultures and other religious occupants such as the Polish, Italians and Persians.
The Jewish Federation Apartments has always advertised or sought to attract applicants from all cultures religions, ethnicities and communities and this has seen it achieve its current diversity of occupancy cultures. The Jewish Russian community seems to be one that has the highest occupancy numbers; however, other communities are also increasing in number. In the past approximately half of the Jewish Federation Apartments was from the Jewish Russian community that moved to America a long time back.
However, in recent years, this has changed and the Jewish Russian community seems to be reducing to about 35-40% of the whole community says the Jewish Federation Apartments president. Despite having an open invitation to all ethnics and religions and communities, the Jewish Federation Apartments seems to have low attraction of the African American community. The main reason why there seems to be no African Americans is that, the community seems slow to accepting change from their communities and neighborhoods. The African Americans seem not too keen on moving from their neighborhoods.
This then explains why Jewish Federation Apartments’ occupancy has no African Americans despite there being a waiting list of the community, reveals the Jewish Federation Apartments president during the interview. Current occupation in the apartments is mainly of whites as African American communities are slow in taking up the challenge of change that may come from moving from their communities. In the past the African American were tenants in the apartments, however, they seem to have moved out since currently there are only a white population of tenants remaining.
All these were revelations from the interview that I carried out with the president of the Jewish Federation Apartments. Despite there being a waiting list from the African Americans at the Jewish Federation Apartments, they do not want to move there yet. 2) Describe the agency’s cultural and linguistic competency plan Culturally, the Jewish Federation Apartments agency has been diversified, however with a reduced attention and interest from the African American community.
The agency’s efforts to attract all communities to consider occupancy at the apartments have been generally attractive and open to all. Advertisement for apartments is open to everyone who is over 62 years and those who are above 18 and are mobility-impaired. The culture of the agency is to care safeguard and ensure that every tenant’s decency and dignity is enhanced. The current situation seems to lean more on the Jewish setting. Since the agency is in a predominantly white community, the cultural orientation may be leaning to the whites’ culture.
The African American community on the other hand seem to be holding on to their cultures since they seem adamant about moving to the Jewish Federation Apartments despite a past occupancy and application for consideration for tenancy. Jewish Federation Apartments agency culture is that of a friendly and social environment that allows the tenants to interact though there are policies that govern occupancy of the premises by ‘outsiders’. One may therefore be right to say that the agency is well out to protect the qualified tenants and the community of Jewish Federation Apartments.
One culture that the Jewish Federation Apartments community seems to have adapted is that of organized friendly activities that ensure all tenants have some sought of meeting point to engage in friendly socializing activities. In this way, many who may be old and rather disoriented would be uplifted emotionally and spiritually. By using a clear and concise tenant handbook, the agency’s aim is to give clear tenancy regulations that must be followed. By doing this, the agency is able to enhance the culture of organization and responsibility.
This means that tenants are able to correlate and live peacefully with one another. The cultural plan of the agency is to maintain an open community culture that would ensure that all tenant correlate and live with harmony under the rules and regulations. Adequate, clear and precise communication has been one main challenge for the agency. Clear communication among all thee different language speakers, understanding each other and having clear and understandable communication with the agency are among the language challenges the agency faced.
The legal tenancy documents print language, as well as all kinds of communication have to be clear and understandable. Linguistically, there has to be clear communication in order for all to understand each other. In order to make this possible, the agency would have to produce/print communication materials in understandable tenants’ languages. In the past, the agency printed documents in two main languages; English and Russian. This may be a sign that other language speaker, though of minority groups, may also desire to be able to get materials written in their language so they can understand.
Legal documents are important and crucial and must be well understood to avoid any legal or regulatory conflicts. The agency may make plans to ensure that all tenants get these legal tenancy documents in languages that they can understand, however, since people who speak other languages seem to be quite few to justify the cost of translating these documents to specific individual languages. Past translations made to Russian have proven challenging since Russian tenant challenge the agency for not giving accurate translations.
This may be a challenge of language translation that may affect may other language translations unless there be a specialized organization making standard and accurate translations. Lack of an official translation made the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), want to translate English to other languages such as Russian, Spanish, French, Polish, Chinese and other languages. Though this has not been done by HUD yet, it would give positive response if done, says the agency president. If the U. S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) translated, the tenants may feel that the translation was done accurately and of higher standard. In the past, the agency had tried to make Russian translations as this would seem cost effective considering the Russian population that justified the translation efforts. The main translators that the agency has used in the past for the Russian language were the language institute as well as Russian translators. This has however not proven to be fully accepted by the Russian community.
The community claims that the translations are not accurate hence posing a translation challenge to the agency. The main plans made by the agency to bridge cultural and language barriers are: • From the interview with the Jewish Federal Apartments’ president, it seemed apparent that language would be most tasking and most challenging to the agency to deal with. During meetings tenants have had to come with translator who would translate to them so they would understand the meeting proceedings.
• The agency has made efforts to have its notices written in Russian as well and placed on the bulletin board. This would be a sign that the agency is making an effort towards fulfilling the laid out cultural and linguistic competence outlined by the National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CALS). • In an effort to make communication between the agency and the tenants clear, when a tenant goes to the agency offices, he/she has to go with a translator who may be a relative, friend or fellow tenant.
This, as easy as it my seem, is one of the many culturally and linguistically challenging issue that the agency may have to address urgently as availability of a good and accurate translator may require one who is neutral well versed with both languages i. e. the agency’s and tenant’s languages. • English training is offered by the agency twice a week at the agency premises. This seems to be one of the agency plans to make communication with the tenant s easier and cost effective instead of having to translate all communication materials and finding a translator for each tenant speaking other languages.
The main challenge with this kind of plan may be the ability, willingness and availability of the tenants to attend the classes. Great efforts were made in housing and urban development programs to facilitate affordable housing. Culturally competent services did not have a successful impact. To prove this, one may say that even with bilingual services and culturally appropriate information, caregivers do not consider that many minorities did not read or write in their native tongue, so that traditional mainstream communication methods were not reaching them.
More importantly there were still not enough minority providers and caregivers (cited in Lecca et al, 1998). All plans by the agency to ensure that it conforms to the standards of CALS may seem rather wanting. However in order to ensure standard culturally and linguistically appropriate services, the agency would have to put more effort into ensuring that all tenants cultural and language needs are considered and integrated into the agency’s policies and culture.
It may be recommended to the agency to work with HUD and CALS and other human service organizations to ensure a level of conformity to the standardized operational policies. Cultural competence is based on an organization’s policies, principles and structures working effectively across all cultures. Organizations have to contain the capacity to value diversity in cultures and linguistics, carry out self assessment to ensure they can manage the dynamics of visible diversity, have cultural knowledge and adapt to the diversity and cultural differences of the people and communities they serve/work with.
In this way all individuals will have a sense of care and respect, decency and dignity as well as pride in their culture and language. This is the agency’s main objective and one that may help it conduct a self assessment to ensure conformity to these basin cultural competence guidelines . Organizational processes of policy making, management and administration as well as service delivery should be based on the foundation of cultural competence by considering and integrating the community or those they serve in all processes.
The agency’s capacity to offer effective communication and convey information that is easily comprehended by all persons including those with low English proficiency, seemingly low literacy, and/or any form of disability would only be reviewed by the agency itself. The current situation at the agency implies a need for this to be accomplished to ensure all tenants’ cultural, linguistic and communication needs are well catered for. 3) Examine how the policies are implemented The Jewish Federation Apartments agency follows policies developed by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The HUD leases are the ones that have to be implemented and used by every house and its rules have to be followed. Individual human and support services offered by the agency have to be in the preferred language and communication medium of the tenants and community served. For this to be accomplished, the human service organizations such as the agency have to ensure that the policies conform to the government and/or local mandates that may be governing language access. Besides the lease document developed by HUD, the agency has house rules it has developed and documented.
This two guiding documents have used at the agency by all tenants and observed by the staff, all communicated in English and Russian. All documents pertaining to the lease and house rules are communicate and provided to all tenants so as to ensure smooth operations at the agency apartments. According to Lecca et al, the health social and human service practitioners of today are no longer faced with patients/consumers of only one culture, but also with those who are of different cultural backgrounds and with different needs.
With the changing and current demographic settings, agencies and human service providers have then to be culturally competent so as to meet the rapidly growing minority population. 4) Design a cultural and linguistic competency policy for the agency and suggestions of implementation strategies to improve the cultural and linguistic competency of the agency. Most social scientists and human service experts agree that if our community is more educated, better trained and healthier, productivity is an inevitable result.
Housing projects and alternative community training employment and educational services have also incorporated culturally based competence service and methodologies with some success. In order for the agency to be competent in cultural and linguistic policies, there has to be a level of commitment that is not dependent on the availability of resources but rather on the aim of equitable, respectful, understandable and effective human service delivery. In order for this to be effective, a change in policy and policy implementation processes has to be implemented.
Linguistically and culturally all ethnic and religious communities must be equally considered and served. All services offered by the agency have to be equally and clearly communicated to all culturally and linguistically diverse tenants. This kind of communication must also be clear, concise and understandable in the tenants preferred language and mode. In a bid to make this quest for equal, clear and understandable communication, the agency must collect all relevant data and information on all the tenants’ ethnicity, religious, cultural and family background before the lease of tenancy is offered and tenancy in commenced.
Culturally and linguistically competent policies and communication frameworks have then to be implemented to ensure that the agency is culturally and linguistically competent. A policy or policies that may be implemented would be: • Board of Directors and staff must exhibit behavior that can help build trust and understanding in the diverse agency. • The agency has to strive to promote a feeling of acceptance for all tenants and staff to ensure both do work together to make the agency culturally and linguistically competent.
• The agency must be culturally and linguistically sensitive to the values of its management and operational processes and techniques. • When the Jewish Federation Apartments’ tenants express doubts, concerns and feelings of need for some help or action to be taken on any given issues, whether it concerns their tenancy, environment or service, the agency must demonstrate acceptance and understanding of the problems by identifying clearly, the employees concerns and discussing them thoroughly. • The agency must show consideration, respect and understanding to all tenants at the apartments.
• Since minorities may not be prompt and willing to reveal that they may not understand the language of communication, all modes of communication such as diagrams should be used to ensure that agency-tenants communication is clear and understandable. • All communication whether verbal or written should be in the tenant’s preferred language, respectable, concise and understandable. • The agency should implement strategies to recruit, retain and promote at all levels of the organization, diverse staff and leadership that represents the demographic qualities of the Jewish Federal Apartments’ tenants.
In the past the agency seemed to have been challenged by the notion or reality of having to conform to standard culturally and linguistically competence. Currently this may be achieved if only the agency would: • Work with the existing standard and well known translators to make translation of all communication materials that all can understand. • If translators are needed the agency should try and have staff be the ones translating other that tenants bringing their own translators. This would help them avoid situations where a tenant’s own translator, being a relative or friend, being unable to translate some word that may be embarrassing.
• The agency should offer language assistance at no cost and inform the tenants that this service is available by posting a notice on the notice board. This would ensure that all tenants are informed of the ‘right’ to language assistance. • Knowledge and general understanding of the Jewish Federal Apartments tenants’ cultures should be encouraged for all staff. This would help them communicate effectively especially in case of an emergency. In conclusion, in order for the agency to attain effective and efficient culturally and linguistically competence, it will have to embrace the fact that diversity of cultures, languages, ethnics e. t. c. in inevitable.
This will then help the agency ensure that its prepared for competent service delivery. References Jewish Federation Apartments (2007), Tenant Selection. Retrieved April 19, 2009, from http://www. jewishfederationhousing. org/selection. html Lecca, Pedro J. , Quervalu, I. , Nunes, J. V. , & Gonzales, H. F. (1998). Cultural Competency in Health, Social and Human Services: Directions for the Twenty-first Century. NY: Garland Publisher. Fong, Rowena (Ed). (2004). Culturally Competent Practice with Immigrant and Refugee
Children and Families (Social Work Practice with Children and Families). NY: The Guilford Press. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (2001), National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from http://www. omhrc. gov/templates/browse. Aspx? lvl= 2&lvlID=15 U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development and Research (2009), About HUD. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from http://www. hud. gov/ about /index. cfm Personal communication, April, 2009
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