Iowa Department of Human Rights Newsletter

iowa department of human rights

September 4, 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.

Mental Health Videos

The Iowa Department of Human Rights, in collaboration with Mosaic Family Counseling, will be presenting a five-part video series focused on mental health and wellness for service providers September 14-18.  Tune in daily from 11:00 am - noon to hear from mental health experts on topics including Trauma & the Brain, Crisis Interventions and Self-Care.  Follow us and watch it on our Facebook channel at 

Helping Youth and Families


Family Consultants with Boys Town Iowa Early Intervention In-Home Family Services (IHFS) work right in the homes of families that are in or near crisis and in danger of becoming formally involved with Juvenile Court Services. 

Enhancing Protective Factors that Can Prevent Juvenile Court Services Involvement
No matter what difficulty youth and their families may be facing, IHFS addresses areas of focus of Early Intervention Services such as school attendance and behavior, academic achievement, relationships with peers and parents, and use of unstructured time. In addition, Family Consultants help connect families with community resources and supports. They also teach parenting skills and empower families to solve
problems on their own so they can maintain a stable, nurturing home long after services end. Family Consultants are available to help 24/7 and services are provided at NO COST to eligible families.  For more information or to make a referral, please call 712-302-7900. For the Des Moines area, contact Scott Reed, In-Home Family Services Supervisor, 402-650-8752.

Funding provided by a grant from the Iowa Department of Human Rights/Division of Criminal & Juvenile Justice Planning

Food Insecurity 

Iowa Stops Hunger is a year-long initiative with Presenting Sponsor Hy-Vee that was created by Business Publications Corporation to educate Iowans about hunger/food insecurity and resources, and to inspire others to take action to stop hunger in Iowa.  Watch #IowaStopHunger video featuring DHR Director San Wong and other community leaders who are helping to raise awareness in the community. Click to watch video

Disaster Recovery Resources

State Disaster Recovery Website

The state has a new website dedicated to news, information, and resources related to the August 10, 2020, derecho. The website includes resources related to agriculture and business; federal, state, and local assistance; donation and volunteer opportunities; food and shelter; and mental health resources. Visit

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 details and deadlines for food assistance programs, Iowa Individual Disaster Assistance Grant Program, Iowa Disaster Case Management, and Disaster Behavior Health Response.  

Note that if a presidential major disaster declaration for Individual Assistance is issued for a county for the same event, the state program is automatically canceled for that county, as the FEMA Individual Assistance program then goes into effect. 

FEMA Individual Assistance
FEMA News Release 9/2/20

On August 17, 2020, President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Iowa and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms on August 10, 2020.  The additional assistance authorizes federal funding to affected individuals in the counties of Benton, Boone, Cedar, Jasper, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama.  Linn County was previously approved for FEMA Individual Assistance.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing (including hotel reimbursement), home repairs, replacement of essential household items, medical/dental expenses, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) or 711 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Federal funding is available to the state, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storm in the counties of Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama.

FEMA in Multiple Languages
FEMA in Your Language 
American Sign Language

FEMA’s website has information and materials available in languages other than English. Disaster survivors can find translated information about disaster assistance programs, emergency preparedness, response and recovery activities, and more. 

USDA Designates 18 Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas
USDA News Release 9/3/20  

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue designated 18 Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas, enabling producers who suffered losses because of the recent derecho, that occurred on August 10, 2020, to be eligible for emergency loans. Additionally, there is a  suite of disaster assistance programs available through the USDA, including program flexibilities and a special signup through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Iowa Workforce Development is accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) from eligible individuals in the following counties whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted due to severe storms beginning August 10, 2020:  Benton, Boone, Cedar, Jasper, Linn, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama.  DUA expands eligibility for unemployment benefits and provides assistance to the self-employed, including business owners and farmers.  Applications for DUA must be filed by September 24, 2020, for Linn County, and by October 2 for the other counties.  Click here for more information.  

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.

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.

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.

Legal Assistance

Derecho Legal Hotline 1-877-469-2259 M-F, 9am-4pm

Victims of the August 10, 2020, derecho in Linn County who are experiencing legal problems due to the storm can get free legal advice through the hotline. Issues may include FEMA denials, insurance problems, landlord/tenant issues, unemployment benefits denials, employment issues, contractor issues, or identity theft.  Callers may leave a message, and a Legal Aid staff member will return their call. 

Iowa Legal Aid 1-800-432-1275 

Iowa Legal Aid attorneys will be available everyday from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Ladd Library  Resource Center, 750 Williams Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 52404. Legal Aid helps low-income and senior Iowans with civil legal problems, including disaster related issues such as landlord tenant, government benefits, and insurance.  

Iowa Attorney General's Office 1-888-777-4590 

Complaints about price gouging and other issues related to the storm clean up can filed with the Iowa Attorney General's Office.  Their office also put together a checklist for important things to consider, such as hiring a contractor and what may be scams.

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. 

Your Civil Rights and Disaster Assistance

Thank you to FEMA for providing information on civil rights and disaster assistance. 

To see the full flyer in English and Spanish, visit DHR's Facebook page

What forms of discrimination are prohibited by Civil Rights laws?

FEMA and a state, local, tribal or territorial government agency or other organization running a FEMA-funded program cannot – either directly or by contract:

  • deny (intentionally or unintentionally) programs, benefits, or services, or
  • provide a different program, benefit, or service or provide them in a manner different from the way they are provided to others 

based on an individual’s race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency, or economic status.

If you need assistance to access a FEMA-provided or a FEMA-funded benefit, program, or service, please contact the Civil Rights Resource Line at (833) 285-7448 [ Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, 3 for the Language Line] or

What if I have a Civil Rights complaint? 

If you believe you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA at (833) 285 – 7448 [ Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, 3 for the Language Line] send an email to FEMA- or mail the written complaint to FEMAOFFICEOF EQUAL RIGHTS, Civil Rights Section, 500 C Street, SW, Room 4SW-0915, Washington, DC 20472. You must file your complaint in writing within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.

Governor Kim Reynolds Continues Public Health Disaster Emergency

On August 27, 2020, Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. 

The proclamation orders all bars, taverns, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and night clubs to close in six counties: Black Hawk, Dallas, Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Story county. They may continue to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises. Restaurants in these six counties are permitted to remain open, but must stop selling and serving alcoholic beverages after 10:00 p.m.

The proclamation also strongly encourages all Iowans two or older to wear a mask or other face covering when in public settings, especially in circumstances when it is not possible to remain six feet away from others outside their household, unless it is unsafe to do so because of health or disability.

The proclamation is effective at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 27, 2020, until September 20, 2020.

Business Disruption Relief Grant Program

Governor Reynolds allocated federal CARES Act funds to assist bars, taverns and other establishments impacted by the August 27, 2020, COVID-19 disaster proclamation that closed bars in six counties. Eligible businesses will receive a one-time $10,000 grant to assist with short-term cash flow.  Application period is September 10-24, 2020.  For more information, click here

Unemployment Compensation

Unemployment Assistance and Work Search Requirements

Some individuals filing for unemployment insurance will be required to meet the work search requirements beginning September 8, 2020.  Iowa Workforce Development had previously waived the work search requirement for those impacted by layoffs and reductions in work hours since the beginning of the pandemic. Claimants currently receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits due to a medical diagnosis or lack of childcare directly related to COVID-19 will not be required to begin work searches at this time. Those who will be required to begin work searches will be notified by IWD.

Claimants who receive state extended benefits will be required to complete work searches even if you are out of work due to COVID-19.  For more information, click here

IowaWORKS centers and satellite offices will start providing limited in-person services on September 8, 2020 to assist customers with work search activities.  Basic services include assistance with job searches, applications, resume preparation and other services. Individuals should telephone their local office first to schedule an appointment.  Customers with questions regarding unemployment insurance benefits should continue to contact the IWD call center at 1-866-239-0843 or email to obtain information about their claims. 

Unemployment Compensation is Taxable

The IRS reminds Americans that by law, unemployment compensation is taxable and must be reported on a 2020 federal income tax return. Taxable benefits include any of the special unemployment compensation authorized under the CARES Act, enacted earlier this year. People receiving unemployment compensation can have tax withheld from their benefits now to avoid owing taxes on this income when they file their federal income tax return next year. Learn more at the IRS's website

Census Data Shapes Your Future

The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. Census data affects funding for infrastructure, education, hospitals, child abuse prevention, housing, and responses to natural disasters.  Complete the census today at

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 21, 2020

August 7, 2020

July 24, 2020

July 10, 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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