The City of Dubuque has settled with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, following allegations that the city discriminated against African Americans applying for rental assistance. The City of Dubuque denies they violated fair housing laws, but through a voluntary compliance agreement, will be required to change the rules that gave preference to residents.
Heading up the changes will be Alvin Nash, Dubuque’s Director of Housing and Community Development. Nash estimates he’ll be able to bring Dubuque’s housing program into compliance within three years. “We have an opportunity here to go forward, fix the situation, and develop a model program. I’m going to try (my) best to turn a negative consequence into a positive opportunity, that’s all you can do,” Nash said.
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. “I did not find any proof that the allegations were justified in regard to intent. But they were justified in terms of, yes, there was negative impact that affected the African American applicants, especially those from out of town,” Nash said.
According to the report, African Americans represented 31-percent of families participating in the Section 8 housing program in Dubuque in 2010. A year later, after a voucher freeze that gave preference to in-state applicants, the African American participation in the program declined to 21-percent.