Iowa Department of Human Rights Newsletter

iowa department of human rights

September 18, 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.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Programs

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps qualifying low-income Iowa homeowners and renters pay for a portion of their primary heating costs for the winter heating season.The assistance is based on household income, household size, type of fuel, and type of housing. View eligibility guidelines.

The program will accept applications beginning October 1, 2020, for households who have a member that is at least 60 years of age, or disabled, or where disconnection is imminent.  All others may apply beginning November 1, 2020.  The last day to apply is April 30, 2021.

Applications are taken at your local community action agency.  Anyone facing disconnection at any time should contact their local community action agency for assistance.

To find your local agency, you may call 2-1-1-, visit, or contact:

     Iowa Department of Human Rights
     321 E. 12th St.
     Des Moines, IA  50319
     (515) 242-5655 or 1-800-351-4659

Please note that Operation: New View Community Action Agency in Dubuque, Iowa, will no longer provide services after September 30, 2020.  Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) in Hiawatha, Iowa, will expand its services to include the counties of Dubuque, Delaware, and Jackson.

An applicant may initiate an appeal if the application was denied, or incorrect facts or improper procedures were used to determine eligibility, assistance amounts, or services. For more information on appeal and hearing procedure in multiple languages, visit Appeal & Hearing Procedure.

Weatherization Assistance Program

Households applying for LIHEAP will also be applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program.  Weatherization is a federal grant program established to help reduce the heating and cooling costs for low income persons, particularly the elderly, disabled, and children, by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, thereby reducing the households’ energy bills. The program also improves the health and safety of low-income homes. 

Passport to Prosperity

James Suong

Congratulations to James Suong for receiving the  2020 Passport to Prosperity honor from the Iowa International Center.  The award recognizes immigrants and refugees for their significant economic, cultural or social contributions.  Mr. Suong is a Staff Sergeant with the Iowa Army National Guard. Through his volunteer efforts, he has influenced public policy and programs for refugees and the Asian Pacific Islander community in Iowa.  He serves on the  Commission of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs at the Iowa Department of Human Rights. Mr. Suong came to the U.S. with his mother as refugees from the Khmer region of Cambodia.  Read his compelling story:  James Suong Bio

Congratulations to the other honorees as well.  Celebrate Passport to Prosperity September 21-26 with these events

Mental Health Videos

The Iowa Department of Human Rights, in collaboration with Mosaic Family Counseling, developed a five-part video series focused on mental health and wellness for service providers. Topics include trauma, understanding emotions, crisis intervention, suicide, and self care.  Videos can be viewed DHR's Facebook

Time is Running Out-Respond to the Census Today

The Census count will end September 31.  While the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters presented significant challenges, there are easy ways to respond and be counted -- online at, by phone at 844-330-2020, or completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire. Census takers will visit households that have not responded. Your response will shape the results of the 2020 Census official count that determines how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. Census data affects funding for critical programs such as infrastructure, education, hospitals, child abuse prevention, housing, and responses to natural disasters.  

Voter Ready

Absentee Voting by Mail

There is still time for registered voters to request that an absentee ballot be sent to them by mail. You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. The request form does not need to be witnessed or notarized. A written application for a mailed absentee ballot must be received by the voter's County Auditor no later than 5:00 p.m. 10 days before a General Election or 11 days before any other election.

Learn more by visiting Iowa Secretary of State's website.

September is National Service Dog Month

September is National Service Dog Month, and we honor service animals and emotional support animals for assisting people with disabilities be successful in work life and everyday life. Dogs perform many important tasks, such as helping blind and visually impaired individuals navigate their environments, providing stability for a person who has balance issues, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, alerting a person who has hearing loss to important sounds, or signaling the onset of a medical issue such as a seizure. If you are interested in learning more, here is some guidance:

Did you know that the Iowa Department of Human Rights has an Office of Persons with Disabilities and a Client Assistance Program?  We help individuals, as well as businesses, schools, and other organizations that have questions or concerns related to service animals.

Disaster Recovery Resources

FEMA makes assistance available to public entities in 7 additional counties and the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa

Governor Kim Reynolds announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made assistance available to public entities and nonprofits in seven additional counties as well as the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa that were impacted by the August 10 derecho.

Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, and Washington counties have been added to a Presidential Disaster Declaration issued by President Trump on August 17, 2020, which made public entities and select nonprofits in 16 counties eligible to apply for the federal Public Assistance Program. The 16 counties that were approved for Public Assistance funding in the August 17 declaration are: Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama.

The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa received a separate Presidential Disaster Declaration from President Trump on September 10, which made the tribe eligible to apply for the federal Public Assistance Program.   

Public Assistance funding may be used for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.

Did you know that the Iowa Department of Human Rights has an Office of Native American Affairs?  The Office advocates for and serves the needs of Native Americans to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life of the state.

State Disaster Recovery Website

The state has a 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 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 Behavioral 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. 

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 1-800-244-743, or visit 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 Benton, Boone, Cedar, Jasper, Linn, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama Counties 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 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. 

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  

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

Previous Newsletters

September 4, 2020

August 21, 2020

August 7, 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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