City of Pittsburgh launches Resident Guides to Welcome Newcomers
A one-stop shop for newcomers to access information on city services and community resources tailored to the Hispanic/Latinx community
In honor of Immigrant Heritage month and to celebrate the cultural diversity of our city, The City of Pittsburgh is proud to launch the first Resident Guide. Resident Guides offer helpful information about citywide services and resources and function as a one-stop shop for resident needs. Here’s the story of how our first guide came to be.
One of our most important goals while creating the new City of Pittsburgh website was to ensure we are creating a site that is accessible and allows for residents to find the information they need easily. We want information to be organized and displayed in a manner that is easy to find, understand, and use. We set about doing that in several ways with a central search query, drop down information and icons, and a static header for important interactive services such as 311. We organized the rest of the information hierarchically by departments and groups. For example, everything that is managed by Citiparks is located under a Citiparks’ section of the website, while everything that is done by City Planning is organized under the City Planning’s section of the site, etc. However, if you were looking for information about the City Pool hours and you did not know the hierarchy of city departments, you wouldn’t think to look under Citiparks at all. That gives rise to the question, “How do we organize our information so that everyone can find what they need easily?” To address this issue, we decided to both organize the information by department and offer themed guides that act as a one-stop shop for information pertaining to a particular topic or group.
First, we decided to focus on new residents of the City of Pittsburgh by creating several guides tailored to the needs of newcomers in Pittsburgh. They would include information about Public Safety, Health Resources, Family-friendly guides, City Services, and Legal Resources. This “Resident Guide” would act as a directory and be featured prominently on the city website.
As we began compiling lists and resources for this guide, we consulted Welcoming Pittsburgh and the Commission on Human Relations and realized they were thinking about similar issues in regards to recent immigrants to the city. There was so much information on the city website and there was no effective and cost-efficient way to translate it all. They were trying to answer a similar question, “How to do we translate the website’s most vital information in a responsible and effective way?”
And so, we combined our efforts to make Resident Guides that not only contain the most important information about city services in one accessible location, but also contain culturally-responsive information about community groups and resources.
We started with the expansive and fast-growing Hispanic and Latinx community. To ensure accuracy, relevance, and cultural appropriateness, the team sought input from a diverse group of stakeholders in the Hispanic/Latinx community such as Casa San Jose, Latin American Cultural Union, the Latino Community Center, and Barrio Latino. We attended several Welcoming Pittsburgh community meetings in different neighborhoods in addition to events held by different stakeholders in predominantly Hispanic/Latinx neighborhoods such as Beechview. While meeting with different community groups, we started to see that certain resources that we had not previously considered were actually very important to members of the Hispanic/Latinx community. For example, community members relied heavily on their mobile devices rather than computers so it was important to make these guides mobile-friendly and searchable online. Also, as faith plays a large role in the lives of these families, community members asked us to include faith-based community groups and religious institutions that offered ceremonies and services in Spanish.
We gathered all the information we gleaned from these meetings as well as resource guides from the different Hispanic/Latinx organizations and set about making a concise and curated document. After collecting and organizing all of the information, we created an English guide that was then translated into Spanish by Nereida Daza of the Latino Community Center. It contains 11 sections and has all kind of important information, from healthcare facilities with translation and interpretation services to local Spanish-speaking radio stations. We hope this guide is a useful resource for the Hispanic/Latinx community in Pittsburgh and that new residents feel welcomed and at ease in their new home. Check out the guide here.
“This is a small step, in multiple ways, that the city wants to make itself more accessible to all residents. We understand that knowledge is empowering; so the more you know, the more you are empowered to use the tools and resources to make this city an enjoyable and accommodating place for you, your family, and your community to live and thrive.”
— Feyisola Alabi, Special Initiatives Manager for Welcoming Pittsburgh.
This is the first of several guides we hope to publish on the website, each curated for a different community in Pittsburgh and translated into different languages. As information changes, we intend to update the guides regularly. At the Department of Innovation and Performance, it is our goal to provide information to residents in a way that’s easily understood and tailored to the needs of each community, both on the City of Pittsburgh website and through social media.
Civic Engagement is a focus area on the Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation in order to ensure we are facilitating conversation between residents and city government. We do this by improving the city website, expanding the City Channel, strengthening public engagement through community events, and teaching citizens about city government.