The Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965 as amended in 1967 forbids discrimination - based on race, creed, color, religion, or national origin - in the sale, rental, leasing, assignment, or subleasing of housing accommodations and in the terms, conditions, or privileges under which the above transactions are carried out. The Act also forbids advertising or indicating in any way that minorities are discouraged from seeking any of the above transactions. Parties covered include: owners and such persons acting for owners as real estate brokers or salesmen, attorneys, auctioneers, agents or representatives by power of attorney or appointment; and persons acting under court order, deed of trust, or will. The Act exempts religious institutions with bona-fide religious qualifications, owner-occupied duplexes, and owner occupied boarding houses with less than 6 rooms. The statutory provision requiring the posting of a $500 bond with a housing-discrimination complaint was repealed by the 63rd General Assembly, becoming effective on July 1, 1969.
During the 1969 reporting year, the Commission processed a total of 20 complaints in housing. Fifteen (15) of the 20 complaints were resolved, with the other 5 remaining under investigation at the close of the 1969 reporting year. Eighteen (18) of the 20 complaints were opened during 1969, while 2 had been opened during 1968.
Nineteen (19) of the 20 complaints were based on race, with the other 1 based on national origin. Fifteen (15) of the 20 complaints were Commission charges, with the other 5 filed by individuals (3 by blacks and 2 by whites). Two (2) of the Commission charges were brought on behalf of American Indians.
Eighteen (18) of the 20 complaints were against property owners, while the other 2 complaints were against real estate agencies or representatives. Twelve (12) of the 20 complaints involved apartments, 6 involved houses, 1 involved a trailer court, and 1 involved a real estate agency's discriminatory use of "Choose Your Neighbor" cards to discourage minority house purchasers. Of the 15 complaints resolved, 12 were conciliated, 1 was administratively closed, 1 was closed because of no probable cause, and 1 was withdrawn.
A black male moved into an apartment two days after the filing of a Commission charge. He had answered a newspaper ad over the telephone and allegedly was told that an apartment was available and that there was no waiting list. He then immediately went to see the apartment but was told that there was no vacancy after all. Later that day, two white co-workers were each offered an apartment. Upon being shown the depositions of the complainant and his co-workers by the Commission's executive director, the owner signed a conciliation agreement for the black to rent the apartment. The agreement also contained a pledge that the owner would not discriminate in any way against non-white applicants or tenants, and a stipulation that the owner would report monthly for one year to the Commission regarding the disposition of nonwhite applications. He subsequently reported that a couple from India have become tenants.
An interracial couple moved into their apartment right after their marriage when the Commission was able to conciliate a Commission charge quickly. The girl, who was white, was in the process of renting an apartment to be ready when she got married -but a hitch developed when she mentioned that he fiance was black. The owner signed a conciliation agreement for the couple to rent the apartment and agreed to not intimidate them or their friends in any way. The couple would be treated like all other renters subject to the same reasonable rules, which is all the Iowa Civil Rights Act requires.
A black female moved into an apartment eleven days after filing a complaint, after having originally been refused the apartment because of the owner's concern that her tenants, all whites, would move out if a black moved in. While the Commission investigation was establishing that the tenants would not necessarily move out, the Commission deferred the case to the Des Moines Human Rights Commission which -unlike the Iowa Civil Rights Commission -- has the power under its ordinance to seek temporary injunctions in housing complaints. Upon the local commission's initiation of its preliminary investigation to determine if there was cause for filing a petition in district court for a temporary injunction, the owner agreed to rent the apartment to the black. The signed conciliation agreement also provided that the owner would not discriminate in any way against minority applicants or tenants, and to report to the State Commission on the disposition of applications from minorities.
Eight (8) other housing complaints, including 5 Commission charges, were conciliated, but minorities did not move in as part of the signed conciliation agreements -- although an apartment was offered to a black female who had found an apartment elsewhere by then. In a few of these cases, the housing accommodation was already rented to someone else by the time that the Commission had completed its investigation and found probable cause that discrimination had occurred -- thus illustrating the crying need for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to gain from the General Assembly the power to seek temporary injunctions in housing complaints. Three (3) of the complaints involved blacks who were refused specific apartments, 1 involved a black not getting to rent a house, 1 involved two Indian females being turned away from an apartment, 1 involved a white male being evicted from a trailer court allegedly because he had black guests, 1 involved an owner quoting higher prices to Negroes than to whites in attempting to sell his house, and 1 involved a house owner asking a white social worker to tell a Negro family that his house was already rented when it actually was still available. All of the respondents in these 8 cases signed conciliation agreements that they would not discriminate in any way against minority applicants or tenants in the future, and most of them are reporting on the disposition of applications from minorities.
In a case with far-reaching consequences, a Commission charge against a realty company led to a widely-publicized successful campaign by the Commission to convince the Iowa Real Estate Commission (the state licensing agency for real estate brokers and salesmen) to-condemn the use of "Choose Your Neighbor" cards and other solicitation devices used widely by realtors in keeping available property off the general market and thus foreclosing much of the housing market to minorities. The realty company signed a conciliation agreement that it would not use the cards or similar selling devices, and that it would report monthly to the Commission on the disposition of applications by minorities for the company's realty services.
The Commission administratively closed a complaint by a white who was evicted from his apartment allegedly because he had Negro guests. The Commission was successful in getting his deposit returned, but could not establish definitely that the elderly couple that owned the apartment house had in fact discriminated. The white evicted soon moved out of the state, so the matter was moot.
The only complaint closed for no probable cause was on a Commission charge regarding a refusal to rent an apartment to a white male and his Mexican-American wife. The couple thought that they had made arrangements for renting the apartment over the telephone but found that someone else had already made a deposit on the apartment when they went over to make their deposit. The Commission investigation uncovered no intentional discrimination; instead it appeared that the parties were not talking about the same unit over the telephone. Moreover, a Mexican American female was renting another apartment in the complex.
A Commission charge on the behalf of an Indian female who was not allowed to move into an apartment reserved for her was withdrawn after it was determined that the complaint was not filed during the 90-day statutory period and that the woman had moved out of the state. This originally had been a file matter in which the Commission was attempting to get housing for the woman. At first, the problem was one of communication and mediation, with the owner agreeing to let her move in after the Commission had meticulously allayed any fears about Indians generally and about her ability to pay the rent.
At the close of the reporting period, 5 housing complaints, all Commission charges, were under investigation. Three (3) involved allegedly discriminatory remarks by property owners that minority renters were objectionable and would not be accommodated. Two (2) of these involved houses, and I involved an apartment. Another case involved a white female who was evicted allegedly because of having a black male visitor. The other Commission charge was against a realty company whose salesman allegedly told a black female that a certain house had been sold and then later showed it to a white.