Fair Housing Education
Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) - $55,000: In September 1990, the Commission was awarded a one-year Fair Housing Assistance Program Incentive Funds grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the amount of $55,000.
The activities funded included development of a Hate Crimes brochure and poster, support for the Commission's legislative efforts to upgrade Iowa's Fair Housing Law (Iowa Code 601A) to be substantially equivalent to Federal Law Title VIII, additional Fair Housing training for Commission staff, conducting housing audits and systemic investigations around the state, and presenting a Fair Housing conference.
The Hate Crimes brochures and posters are being developed by the Commission. The 1991 Iowa legislature amended Iowa Code 601A to comply with Federal Law Title VIII and the Commission is waiting to hear if HUD recognizes Iowa's law as substantially equivalent. Four members of the Commission staff received additional Fair Housing training. The results of the housing audits and systemic investigations are scheduled to be announced at the Fair Housing conference to be held August 29, 1991, in Des Moines.
Twenty-seven areas in Iowa were tested for housing discrimination. Some areas were chosen to be tested because of systemic problems-reactions to residents who work in meat packing industries, conditions experienced by migrant farm laborers, responses of Iowans to minorities-and others were chosen for a cross-section of various sized Iowa communities.
The results of the tests disclosed that 53 percent of the violations were because of familial status discrimination refusal to consider families with children. Thirty-three percent were violations because of national origin discrimination and 14 percent were violations because of race, disability or sex discrimination.
Housing audits were conducted randomly. Test dates were set, and some of the properties available on those dates were tested by trained testers. Everyone tested was notified after the tests were conducted and the results of their tests were explained. A followup letter was also sent that included information about Fair Housing education to be offered in their area. Mediation agreements were sent to those people whose tests caused the Commission concern about their rental practices.
Mediation agreements are not complaints. The objective of this testing program was to elicit voluntary compliance, understanding and acceptance of the laws. The Commission desired to change behavior, attitudes and practices. In some cases when the housing provider refused to cooperate, the Commission initiated the filing of complaints.
The Commission tested the following areas: Oskaloosa, Ames, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Dubuque, Waterloo, Keokuk, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Burlington, Iowa City, Perry, Storm Lake, Sioux City, Tama, Grinnell, Hampton, Mason City, Winterset, Clarion, Williamsburg, Ottumwa, Muscatine, Fort Madison and Shenandoah. During 1990, the Commission also tested Decorah, Sheldon, Newton and Columbus Junction.
Fair Housing Incentive Program (FHIP) - $75,000: In January 1991, the Commission was awarded a 13-month Fair Housing Initiatives Program Grant from HUD in the amount of $75,000 to develop state, regional or local education and outreach campaigns, including media campaigns, or other special efforts including educating the general public and housing groups about fair housing rights and obligations.
The activities funded included preparation of print, radio and television media campaigns; developing a Fair Housing video text game; videotaping Fair Housing education presentations in English, Spanish and Southeast Asian dialects; designing Fair Housing resources for schools in three levels, primary, middle school and high school; operating Fair Housing display/discussion booths; presenting Fair Housing seminars and discussions; and reporting coordinating activities to the National Fair Housing Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Alliance. At the time of this report, June 30, 1991, most of these activities are being developed.
During the first six months of this grant the Fair Housing Specialist engaged in a variety of Fair Housing activities. She offered 49 Fair Housing presentations to 1,270 people and distributed 1, 1 18 Fair Housing packets. Since October 31, 1989, a total of 4,315 Fair Housing packets have been distributed. She developed the 40-page "Iowa Fair Housing Guide 1990" and a "Fair Housing Advertising in Iowa" booklet. She is an approved Realtor educator for three hours of Continuing Education Units (CEU's) and critiqued three Fair Housing Realtor correspondence courses for the Real Estate Licensing Commission. She also executed the activities funded under the FHAP grant and prepared a new FHIP grant application in June 1991 that the Commission hopes will be awarded.
On-going Commitment to Fair Housing Education: The Commission has an on-going commitment to provide Fair Housing education throughout Iowa. Fair Housing inquiries to the Commission from both housing providers and housing applicants continue to increase. Requests for Fair Housing materials continue. The Commission believes more people are aware of Fair Housing issues than at any time in history; however, media coverage of problems in the state and the results of the Commission's testing programs verity there is still more education needed to eliminate housing discrimination in Iowa.