SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Thursday morning Savannah Mayor Van Johnson hosted a press conference to announce the formation of a Hispanic taskforce.
The taskforce is named HOLA Savannah. The name stands for Hispanic Outreach, Leadership and Advocacy.
According to the city, HOLA Savannah will educate Savannah`s Hispanic community about the city government`s abilities, limitations, functions and services.
“It seems that a lot of the residents of the community don’t know where to go for anything,” said Myriam Baker, task force chairwoman, “for food stamps, for assistance with housing, for education.”
Baker is not only a 10 year Savannahian, but a nine year city employee. She says Latinos are underrepresented and under served.
“It’s kind of weighed on my heart for a number of years because I grew up in Miami,” said Baker, “I grew an international culture environment.”
While Savannah’s isn’t quite an international community, Johnson hopes this task force is a step in the right direction.
He says Latinos, Spanish speaking or not need to know they matter and that help is here if they need it.
“We need to make sure that as it relates to everyday city services, as it relates to emergency services such as a pandemic or a hurricane,” said Johnson, “that our city is appropriately communicating with and estblaishing that rapport.”
Roughly 7000 citizens in Savannah identify as Hispanic or Latino and many of them face a language barrier. Johnson says while the city may not be able to offer English classes he’ll find someone who will.
“This creates an opportunity for us to say if there is something that is needed lets create a way, ” said Johnson, “find a way or find a partner to help with that.”
The city hopes the taskforce will build trust with and encourage involvement of Savannah`s Hispanic residents.
The group`s goal is to ensure Savannah is a great place to live, work and play for residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino.
Watch the complete press briefing in the video below!