By: Stephanie Allen-Gobert
On Tuesday, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an agreement with the city of Dubuque, Iowa, that effectively settles allegations that city discriminated against African Americans applying for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Last year, reports emerged from the city that officials admitted to barring Blacks from the program in a period between 2007 and 2011, after findings of a HUD investigation came to light.
As noted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI section, discrimination against individuals who are applying for programs and activities funded by the federal government on the basis of race, color, and national origin is prohibited.
Dubuque officials admitted that it implemented procedures for its Section 8 rental assistance program for low-income families that impacted African Americans in a negative fashion in 2013. Last summer, HUD reviewed the city’s data and found that Dubuque authorities put in place policies that discriminated against house choice voucher applicants based on race. The city also added a clandestine “residency preference point system” that put those who applied that lived predominantly African American areas behind other races.
The message HUD stated: “HUD makes certain that people from all communities are given equal and meaningful access to taxpayer-funded programs,” said Bryan Greene, HUD Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with state and municipal governments to ensure that no one is denied housing choice or housing assistance because of his or her race.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Dubuque eliminated its residency preference system, and will submit any future changes to its Housing Choice Voucher distribution to HUD for review and approval. In addition, the City agreed to undertake outreach activities to underserved populations, meet increased and expanded reporting requirements, comply with additional oversight from HUD, and obtain fair housing training for core city employees.