Increasing Latino Participation in Local Government Processes
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The City of Eugene acknowledges the benefits that neighborhood organizations bring to the community (City of Eugene, 1981). Although the City of Eugene’s Neighborhood Organization Policy states that neighborhood organizations are open to the diversified interests of the neighborhood residents, cultural and language barriers often prevent Latino residents from participating. Eugene’s Trainsong neighborhood has the highest percentage (17.2%) of Latino residents, in comparison to the total number of its residents, among Eugene’s 21 recognized neighborhoods (City of Eugene, 2003). Due to the high Latino resident population in Trainsong and the lack of Latino resident involvement with the Trainsong Neighborhood Association, an examination of the cultural and language barriers that impact Latino residents’ participation with the Trainsong Neighborhood Association is the focus of this research. Using a snowball sampling approach, eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with people believed to be familiar with Latino and/or Trainsong neighborhood residents and effective outreach strategies. Interviews were used to gather information on effective outreach strategies to increase Latino participation in neighborhood associations and the Eugene Municipal government. Results of interviews with knowledgeable citizens indicate that specific strategies can be implemented by the Trainsong Neighborhood Association and by Eugene Neighborhood Associations to effectively engage Latino residents, and by City of Eugene Neighborhood Services to support Latino participation in Neighborhood Associations in general.