The 1988-1990 Iowa Fair Housing Awareness
The Iowa Fair Housing Awareness Project was activated April 1, 1988. The Fair Housing vehicle started touring Iowa in July 1988. The project manager, Jan Alderton, visited every county seat community in Iowa, major population centers, areas with concentrations of minority persons, and special gatherings by request. The objective of the project was to increase awareness and understanding of fair housing laws and procedures.
A final activity was a Fair Housing conference held in Des Moines on August 3, 1989, and attended by approximately 150 people from around the state of Iowa. Professor of Law, Robert G. Schwemm, University of Kentucky, Lexington, discussed the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. Floyd O. May, Director of Compliance Division Region VH, Kansas City, explained HUD's New Administrative Enforcement Powers.
A panel of nationally recognized fair housing experts presented the new additions to Federal Law Title VIII protecting familial status and handicapped, and the areas of intimidation and coercion. Paul Hancock, Chief of Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, was the keynote speaker during lunch and discussed the new role of the Department of Justice regarding housing discrimination.
In the afternoon the Iowa Fair Housing Project was discussed by the directors of the sponsoring human rights organizations of Des Moines, Dubuque and Iowa City. The project manager shared some of her experiences and surprises traveling Iowa promoting a sometimes unwelcome message. Laypersons from around the state presented their reactions to the new amendment and to the Fair Housing Project. A video documentary of the project, "A Tour of Iowa-The Nation's Heartland," was viewed for the first time.
The Iowa Fair Housing Awareness Project ended as scheduled in September 1989, when the vehicle was returned to the leasing agent. In October 1989, the Commission received confirmation from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development that the Iowa Fair Housing Awareness Project was officially extended for an additional six months. The attitudinal survey component of the original grant could not be completed as planned; therefore the project was extended by transferring funds allotted to the survey. This enabled the Commission to continue fair housing educational activities.
During the original grant period, the Fair Housing vehicle toured 38,500 miles in Iowa and hosted 3,500 people. The manager spoke with 2,660 people during 176 presentations in community meeting areas. During the additional six-month period, the Fair Housing manager drove 14,000 more miles and contacted another 1,283 people during 46 presentations of "Fair Housing is the Law in Iowa." In addition to the Fair Housing Packets distributed, the manager developed numerous Fair Housing educational materials, which are available from the Commission upon request.
The totals of the entire Fair Housing Awareness Project (October 1, 1989 to June 30, 1990) are impressive.
Mileage driven for project - 52,071 miles
People contacted by the project - 7,443
Formal presentations - 222
Fair Housing Packets distributed - 2,468
The Commission continues to see an increase
in housing discrimination inquiries from all areas of the housing industry
throughout the state. Project Manager Jan Alderton comments, "The ideal
situation would be to have no housing discrimination complaints filed with
the Commission because there is no more housing discrimination. From my
experiences traveling the State of Iowa, we are making progress, yes, but
we're a long way from welcoming people who are different. There is still
a great need for fair housing education and fair living opportunities. I
hope I'm around for more fair housing efforts!"
In March 1990, the Commission submitted a Fair Housing Initiatives Program grant proposal for more Fair Housing educational outreach activities which build on the contacts of the successful Iowa Fair Housing Awareness Project. It is hoped this grant will be funded and the Commission will be able to capitalize on the fair housing momentum established by this project.