City officials yesterday unveiled a new guide to government and community services written in Spanish and aimed at helping the District's growing Hispanic population.
The 48-page guide, Guia de Servicios: Washington a su alcance, was produced by Mayor Anthony A. Williams's office of Latino affairs. About 10,000 copies of the colorful guide will be distributed by government agencies and community organizations.
"This is not just a translation of an English version of the same information,'' said Williams (D). "This is a guide created every step of the way with the input from our Latino community."
Williams announced the guide during his weekly news briefing, which was held at Lamont Park in Mount Pleasant, a neighborhood with a sizeable Hispanic community.
The city has about 47,000 Latino residents, according to 2004 Census Bureau estimates.
Williams and Gustavo F. Velasquez, executive director of the District's Latino affairs office, said the city will aggressively promote the guides in schools, churches and cultural festivals and through the Spanish-language media. The effort kicked off yesterday, with city officials planning to distribute the guide during the city's Latino Family Fair at Bell Multicultural High School.
The guide has sections on how to obtain information and services for education, employment, health, economic development, housing and legal issues. The design is very "culturally competent," Velasquez said. Each section begins with an illustrated story about a problem faced by a Latino family and some possible solutions or services offered by government or community organizations.
"This guide will be very useful, both to those who have just arrived in the city and for those who have lived here a long time," said Esther Garcia, a resident who helped with the design of the guide and appeared with the mayor yesterday.
Velasquez said he hopes to put the guide on the city's Web site soon. There is money in next year's budget to update the guide, which cost $67,000 to produce, he said.
But as the city helps Spanish speakers navigate the halls of its bureaucracy, it also hopes to encourage them to learn English.
"Let's make no mistake about it. We also have ensured that we have funds so that the families that receive this guide learn English," Velasquez said. "We will continue promoting and teaching families to learn the English language."