THE HOUSTON COUNTY CLCP AND ITS PARTNERS
Recent estimates indicate that although Hispanics currently make up only 4 percent of the population in Houston County, that number is growing rapidly, as many come to the county to settle and work permanently, rather than to seek temporary or seasonal employment. The Houston County CLCP recognizes that non-English speakers need specific services to function as full members of the community.
In 2000, MGTC and the city of Warner Robins conducted a workshop in Spanish to explain housing opportunities and policies to Spanish-speaking residents. At about the same time, the former chief of the Warner Robins Police Department, Dan Hart, saw a need to teach the Hispanic population about local laws and customs, hoping to prevent misunderstandings based on cultural and language differences. For example, some police officers noticed that many non-English-speaking residents were driving with international driver's licenses that are not valid in the United States. The police department decided to work with the CLCP, MGTC, and the city's Department of Community Development to design and print "Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Local Legal Issues." This booklet describes local laws and ordinances, fair housing practices, and adult education services in both English and Spanish. Police officers distribute and refer to this booklet when working with Spanish speakers.
This cooperative project was the genesis of the Hispanic Collaborative, which has since evolved to include a wider range of partners and services for Spanish speakers. The partners actively promote services for Spanish-speaking adults within their own organizations, but they also come together to address community-wide issues facing the Hispanic population. The CLCP has published a guide to services and opportunities for Hispanics in Houston County.