Utah Housing Authority Improves Communication and Reduces Costs Using InterpreStation

The challenge

housing connectOne of the challenges Housing Connect faces in serving residents in Salt Lake City is communication. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 25% of the Salt Lake City population speaks a language other than English at home. Information compiled by the news site Stacker found that immigrants to Salt Lake City are coming from more than 50 countries around the world, including Mexico, India, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Iraq.

Like many other states, Utah is facing a persistent housing shortage, a tight housing market characterized by very low vacancy rates and a growing share of households doubling up. Utah lacks more than 31,000 housing units compared with demand, according to a recent report commissioned by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

To help meet those needs, Housing Connect serves about 3,400 families who receive rental subsidy vouchers in the Salt Lake City area. Residents come from a variety of backgrounds. Some were homeless and struggling on the streets. Others were families with insufficient incomes to meet their needs fully. Some are elderly and living on a fixed income, while still others are veterans or immigrants who work but for whom finding affordable housing is difficult.

Federal law requires housing organizations such as Housing Connect to provide interpretation services to their clients if needed. But with so many different languages spoken among residents, doing so in a convenient, cost-effective manner can be difficult. The organization previously worked with partnering agencies with translation services, the clients provided their own translator, or the staff used Google Translate. Unfortunately, those solutions could be costly, slow, and often inaccurate. A better solution was needed.

The solution

Interprestation on CounterTo help provide those services, Housing Connect turned to the InterpreStation from Advanced Kiosks.

The InterpreStation allows customers who do not speak English as a first language to ask complex questions and receive answers instantly through a human translator at a fraction of the cost of hiring an on-site interpreter. By leveraging the services of LanguageLine Solutions, the kiosk offers interpretation and translation services in 240 languages plus American Sign Language, with weekly usage reports and personal information security.

The countertop kiosk features a built-in webcam and a 4K monitor large enough to capture details, including facial expressions and hand gestures. The system includes two VOIP handsets for crisp, clear audio communication.

The Interpretation’s 16-gauge steel enclosure is built to handle the wear and tear of virtually any setting. The device comes standard with features and peripherals for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and kiosk software options to accommodate users with and without special needs. It’s designed to run on a standard 110v outlet.

The InterpreStation is an excellent fit for any industry where regular clients may not speak English. Hospitals, government facilities, courthouses, universities, and housing authorities are all industries that can benefit from the InterpreStation solution. Organizations pay by the minute for substantial savings.

People using translation service

The results

Housing Connect placed the Interpretation in the lobby of its main office.

One of the main benefits of the InterpreStation solution was the instant availability of translation services. Instead of having a non-English-speaking client visit the office and staff unable to assist them until an interpreter was available, they can be assisted immediately.

“Instead, we can just say, ‘Hey, let’s walk over to this kiosk and have a conversation right now,’” said Ilez Brady, a Housing Connect veteran who oversees the Housing Choice Voucher program.

“That’s probably been the biggest thing that we’ve noticed,” Brady said. “It obviously helped with staff time to be able to help them right away instead of rescheduling or having them come over and over.”

housing connect graphicThe players

The staff at Housing Connect in Salt Lake City believes that a home is a space that offers safety and comfort. Homes also ground us, remind us of our deepest values and hopes, provide inspiration and motivation to succeed, and strive to better our lives and those of our families.

Housing Connect’s mission is to connect people and communities to quality affordable housing opportunities while promoting self-sufficiency and neighborhood revitalization.

Advanced Kiosks is an engineering company that for 20 years has specialized in developing self-service solutions for many industries. Our kiosk machines are all made in the USA and come with a 3-year warranty. Our Zamok kiosk management software is the most secure and delivers the ability to get things done.

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