Iowa Department of Human Rights Newsletter

iowa department of human rights

August 21, 2020

We are here to help.

The Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR) brings strength to Iowa's rich heritage.  Our three divisions - Community Action Agencies, Community Advocacy and Services, and Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning - work to reduce cultural, social, and economic barriers to opportunities for Iowans to succeed.

Iowa Derecho

On August 10, 2020, Iowa was hit hard with a derecho. The storm left Iowans with damaged homes and property, flattened crops, power and internet outages, spoiled food, and other devastation. Our hearts go out to all those affected, especially as we are navigating the current COVID-19 pandemic and the new school year.  We are sharing these resources to help Iowans access support and services during these challenging times. 

Disaster Recovery Resources

DHS Disaster Assistance

Governor Kim Reynolds issued disaster proclamations for a number of counties affected by the recent derecho storm.  Visit the Iowa Department of Human Services' website regarding Food Assistance replacement, Iowa Individual Disaster Assistance Grant Program, Iowa Disaster Case Management, and Disaster Behavior Health Response.  

Community Action Agencies

Many community action agencies offer assistance such as food banks, food delivery initiatives, clothing, diapers, and other emergency and disaster relief needs. There is a network of 17 community action agencies that serves all of Iowa's 99 counties. To find a community action agency near you, visit the Iowa Department of Human Rights' website.

211 Help Line

211 provides support, resources, and referrals in the event of a disaster. Iowans may call 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 to be connected to the help they need.   

For the English Language Learner Help Line, call 1-877-558-2609.   

For deaf and hard-of-hearing Iowans, dial 7-1-1 first for the Telecommunications Relay Service to reach the 2-1-1 hotline.

American Red Cross Serving Iowa

The Red Cross provides critical resources to assist Iowa with recovery efforts, including shelter, food, emergency supplies, and disaster health services.  Red Cross is putting plans in place to provide financial assistance; more information will be forthcoming. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS and dial 0 to speak with a representative.  Updates can be found here: News and Events and  Facebook.

Mortgage/Rent Assistance

The Iowa Association of Realtors' grant is available to help individuals affected by the derecho storm with mortgage payment assistance or rental costs due to displacement up to $1,000 per applicant. Some scenarios for eligibility may include a homeowner with a mortgage that was displaced due to damage of their home; a homeowner with a mortgage living in their home without power due to the storm damage; a renter that was displaced due to damage of their apartment building.  

Free U-haul Self-Storage Units for 30 days

U-Haul facilities across the state are offering 30 days of free self-storage units and U-Box portable storage containers to residents affected by the derecho.  Find the locations offering this service by clicking here.

Volunteer Iowa

Many volunteer opportunities can be found on the state's Volunteer Iowa website.  For volunteer opportunities related to the derecho, click here.  Volunteers are advised to use health and safety measures.  

CDC Safety Tips

The CDC offers health and safety tips, including chainsaw precautions, when cleaning up after severe weather.  Use safety gear, pace yourself, and be careful of potential hazards. Clean Up Safety After a Disaster

Additional Resources

For additional local resources, including updates, requesting help, volunteer and donation opportunities, visit the city and county websites and their social media pages. 

Beware of Post-Storm Scams

Scammers use phone, text, mail, email, in-person visits to target residents affected by severe weather.  The Iowa Attorney General's Office advises Iowans to beware of scammers and offers advice on how to protect yourself.  Deal with reputable companies, verify contractors, understand your insurance, avoid paying large sums up front, and know your rights. Get more advice and information on how to file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General's Office

Legal Assistance

The Iowa State Bar Association has a list of resources for legal assistance. Visit their website for locations and programs:

Iowa COVID-19 Legal Advice Hotline 1-800-332-0419  Iowans experiencing legal issues related to COVID-19, such as eviction, denial of unemployment benefits, employment issues or identity theft may call the hotline.  Callers can leave a message, and a representative will call them back. The hotline is a project of Iowa Legal Aid, the Iowa State Bar Association, and the Polk County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Census Data Affects Disaster Preparedness

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, your responses to the 2020 Census can affect disaster preparedness. Information about how many people live in a town and where they live is critical for emergency response. Statistics from the 2020 Census will provide baseline numbers for funding of federal disaster relief, preparation, and rescue coordination. You can respond to the census online, by phone, mail. Language support is available.  Respond to the census:

Supplemental Unemployment Benefits

On August 14, 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Iowa’s application to participate in the "Lost Wages Assistance" program for enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefits. Iowans whose unemployment is the result of the pandemic, and who are eligible for at least $100 in benefits per week, will qualify for an additional $300 in weekly benefits retroactive to the week ending August 1.  As FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor continue to issue guidance, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) will continue to develop the implementation and application processes. The IWD website will be updated as additional information becomes available, including timelines for application and payment.

The IWD website also contains a section on job openings and services for job seekers.

Stimulus Payment

Who still needs to take action to receive the first stimulus payment and when?

September 30 - Some federal benefit recipients need to act by September 30. The IRS reopened the registration period only for individuals who are federal benefit recipients who didn't receive $500 per qualifying child payments earlier this year.

October 15 - People who have no income or low-income and who are not required to file a tax return may be eligible for an Economic Impact Payment and can register for a payment by using the free Non-Filers tool by October 15. 

Learn more: IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center

COVID-19 Educational Videos in Multiple Languages

The State of Hawaii's Office of Language access created COVID-19 educational videos  in Marshallese, Korean, Tagalog, Ilocano, Mandarin, Chuukese, Cantonese, Japanese. View the youtube videos

COVID-19 Language Resources

American Sign Language Videos-CDC

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-Resources for Limited English Proficient Populations

Congolese Health Partnership Videos

Coronavirus, State Website

Crescent Community Health Center-Marshallese Language

EMBARC Ethnic Minorities of Burma and Advocacy and Resource Center

Hawaii Office of Language Access-Youtube

Iowa Department of Human Rights-Language Access

Iowa Department of Public Health

Iowa Spanish Helpline 515-344-3936 

Multi-Lingual Hotline  1-877-558-2609
(Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa and partners)

Test Iowa-Free COVID-19 Testing (Spanish available)

Previous Newsletters

August 7, 2020

July 24, 2020

July 10, 2020              

June 26, 2020


Are there other resources we should know about? Let us know.

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Iowa Department of Human Rights
Lucas State Office Building
321 E 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
515-242-5640 or 1-800-351-4659
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