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Dubuque and Federal Agency Settle Over Race Discrimination Findings

Joyce Russell
Iowa Public Radio

The City of Dubuque has reached an informal agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, over allegations the city discriminated against African Americans applying for housing assistance. The city has denied the HUD’s claims.

Beginning in 2007, the city agency that distributes Section 8 housing assistance implemented rules giving preference to people who could prove residency in the city of Dubuque. As a result, people applying from outside the state, most of whom were minorities, experienced longer wait times. Further rule changes and a voucher freeze brought African American participation in the program down from 31% to 21% in 2010.

Through a voluntary compliance agreement released Tuesday, the City of Dubuque will be required to change the rules that gave preference to residents, in addition to other program changes.

Dubuque’s Director of Housing and Community Development, Alvin Nash, has been appointed to administer the stipulations in the agreement.  

"We have an opportunity here to go forward, fix the situation, and make a model program. I’m going to try our best to turn a negative consequence into a positive opportunity, that’s all you can do," Nash said. 

Nash estimates he’ll be able to bring Dubuque’s housing program into compliance within three years.