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Latino Daily News

Thursday June 23, 2011

Spanish-Language Billboard Upsets Some Alabama Residents

Spanish-Language Billboard Upsets Some Alabama Residents

Photo: Spanish-Language Billboard Upsets Some Alabama Residents

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In Theodore, Alabama, Spanish-language billboards have caused a stir among town residents.

If translated into English, the billboards read, “First-time home buyers. Yes, you can. Achieve your dream of homeownership,” and some residents are angry to see a billboard they can’t understand.

“I can’t read it. I have no idea what it says,” area resident Rita Perrine told one reporter. “I don’t care if it is in 10 languages as long as it is in English and as long as I understand what’s up there.”

The billboards were paid for by the Mobile County Commission with a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Though the signs are intended for Spanish-speaking first-time home buyers, the program they advertise is open to everyone.

HUD’s national office released the following statement:

“It is important that those with limited english proficiency be provided every opportunity under the law to understand their rights. On August 11, 2000, Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services by Persons with Limited English Proficiency,” was issued.

Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies to assess and address the needs of otherwise eligible persons seeking access to federally conducted programs and activities who, due to LEP cannot fully and equally participate in or benefit from those programs and activities. It promotes a positive and cooperative understanding of the importance of language access to federally conducted and federally assisted programs. HUD wants to ensure that the programs and activities made possible through resources are made available to the LEP population and therefore, focus on providing equal opportunity to persons with LEP.”