Iowa Department of Human Rights Newsletter

iowa department of human rights

November 25, 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.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

News on the COVID-19 vaccines has been encouraging. The CDC has been working with health departments and partners to develop vaccination distribution plans for when a vaccine is available. The CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health have information on some commonly asked questions about the vaccine.  When will a vaccine be available?  Which groups will be given priority to receive the vaccine?  How does it work?  How long does the vaccine last?  If I've had COVID-19, should I get the vaccine?  How much will it cost?  Responses to these questions can be found on the Iowa Department of Public Health's website, as well as the CDC's.  

Food Insecurity During the Holidays

Holidays can be a stressful time for those experiencing food-insecurity, such as seniors and households facing economic challenges, especially when people are struggling during the pandemic. Families sometimes have to choose between food, utilities, medical care, and other necessities.  Not having access to enough, affordable, and nutritious food can affect an individual's health and well-being and children's development. 

Many families rely on food resources and other programs in Iowa   If you are in need of food assistance, here are some organizations that provide food or other resources:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services -
American Sign Language and Braille Disability Updates

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced enhancements that make its services more accessible for members of the public with disabilities.

A 15-minute video about the naturalization process is now available in American Sign
Language. The video provides information on general eligibility requirements, filing an
application, the naturalization interview, and the Oath ceremony.

For naturalization applicants, USCIS can offer the English reading test in braille.
Hardcopy study materials are also available in braille. To request braille-related or other
accommodations, members of the public should use the online accommodations request
form or call the Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833).

Through the Citizenship Resource Center, individuals can access and print large-print
versions of the Civics (History and Government) Questions for the Naturalization Test,
Civics Questions for the 65/20 Exemption, the Reading Test Vocabulary and the Writing
Test Vocabulary. Individuals can also access text-only versions of these materials for use
with screen enlargers, screen readers, refreshable braille displays, and most other
accessibility products.

For more information about USCIS and its programs, please visit or 
Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and Instagram (@USCIS).

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing appointments at Test Iowa locations are filling up. Before heading to a Test Iowa site, complete the assessment first at and schedule an appointment to be tested at any location. Call Test Iowa with questions about testing: 515-575-2131 or 844-844-1561 (toll free), 8 am - 8 pm seven days a week (except Holidays).  

In addition to Test Iowa locations, coronavirus tests are available at Hy-Vee, select pharmacies like Walgreens, and some medical/health centers.  Call ahead or visit their websites for more information, hours, and to make an appointment. 

The Crossroads of Iowa Eighth Annual Transcending Seminar

Crossroads of Iowa is a non-profit organization that a develops programs for women, including those in jail or prison, with a focus on mental wellness using a holistic approach. Join their next event:

What:  The Crossroads of Iowa Eighth Annual Transcending Seminar

When:: Friday, January 29, 2021

Where: Grand View University Student Center, 2811 E. 14th St., Des Moines, Iowa 

Visit or see brochure for more information on continuing education units, fees, lunch, and parking. 

HUD Awards More than $12.5 Million in Housing Counseling Grants

On October 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded more than $12.5 million in supplemental housing counseling grants. These supplemental grants will support quality housing counseling services to renters and homeowners.  HUD-approved housing counseling agencies help households find affordable rental housing, offer financial literacy training, and provide foreclosure prevention counseling. These agencies also support emergency preparedness and disaster recovery efforts, assist homeless persons in finding transitional housing, and help seniors determine whether a reverse mortgage makes sense for them.  Agencies in Cedar Rapids, Decorah, Des Moines, Dubuque, Muscatine, Sioux City, and Waterloo received a grant.   Read full press release...

COVID-19 Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program-Application Deadline December 4, 2020

The last day to apply for the the State's Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program is December 4, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.  The program will provide short-term relief to income-eligible renters and homeowners who are at risk of eviction or foreclosure.

Available assistance include

  • Rental assistance  for up to four months. This can include up to two months in arrears, beginning with April 1 rent ($3,200 maximum).  
    • includes manufactures home rent and lot rent
  • Mortgage payment assistance (this can include up to two months in arrears, beginning with April 1 rent) ($3,000 maximum) 

For more information and required documentation, visit or call 1-855-300-5885. View the eviction education flyer and legal resources.

HHS/CDC Temporary Halt of COVID-19 Eviction

Living in a safe, stable home is important to personal health and well-being.  On September 4, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/CDC issued a Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the further Spread of COVID-19. The Order temporarily stops residential evictions of covered persons for nonpayment of rent through December 31, 2020.  The Order protects renters who meet certain requirements and who sign a declaration form and give it to the landlord. 

Please note that evictions can take place if certain terms of the lease are broken.  Late fees can still be charged, and the obligation to pay rent remains. The process and requirements around the moratorium and evictions can be complex. For information on how to take advantage of the moratorium, visit Iowa Legal Aid's website

If you are unable to pay your rent, here are some resources on rental assistance, housing, and other help. 

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 application period is November 1, 2020 - April 30, 2021. Customers who qualify for LIHEAP are protected from having their natural gas and electric utilities disconnected from November 1 to April 1.

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, visit, or contact the Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR) at (515) 242-5655 or 1-800-351-4659. LIHEAP information is available in multiple languages on the DHR's website.  

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

November 13, 2020

October 30, 2020

October 16, 2020

October 2, 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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