Iowa Department of Human Rights Newsletter

iowa department of human rights

September 3, 2021

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 Women's Hall of Fame 


The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women invites you to celebrate the 2021 Class of the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. This year's inductees (pictured below) have made significant contributions in the fields of photography, education, humanitarianism, entertainment, and justice. The virtual celebration will be shown via the Department of Human Rights Facebook page: and is open to the public. 


Cornelia Clarke (Grinnell, IA):  Nature Photographer, Academic Contributor, Book Illustrator.  Cornelia Clarke’s photographic legacy appeared in children’s books, scientific journals, newspapers, science magazines and encyclopedias all throughout the nation. Posthumous Award (1884-1936)


Jan Mitchell (Des Moines, IA):  
Educator, 1997 Iowa Teacher of the Year, 2019 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Robert D. Ray Award for Equity and Justice recipient. Over the course of her career, Jan Mitchell has been instrumental in assisting the education and social mobilization of hundreds of Iowa’s Latinx students, championing women's rights, and prioritizing service-led compassion into her work with the community.  


Donna Reed (Denison, IA):  Actress, Academy Award Winner, Advocate for Peace. Donna Reed is celebrated for her successful career in entertainment and as a trailblazer for women in television, as well as a humanitarian who advocated for social justice and world peace. Posthumous Award (1921-1986)

Dr Ryan

Dr. Roxann Marie Ryan, Ph.D. (Cresco, IA): Former Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner, Assistant Iowa Attorney General, Educator & Scholar.  Dr. Ryan is noted for her vast contributions in academia, groundbreaking work in public service, and celebrated leadership among students, colleagues, and citizens across the country.

Disaster Assistance for Additional Counties

Governor Kim Reynolds has issued disaster proclamations for a number of counties in response to recent severe weather:  

The governor's proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to respond to, and recover from, the effects of recent severe weather and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program 

The Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery. The grant application, instructions, and specific deadlines for each eligible county are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website at Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim. 

The Disaster Case Management Program addresses serious needs related to disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with clients to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program; it closes 180 days from the date of the governor's proclamation. For information on the Disaster Case Management Program, contact your local community action association or visit 

Additional Resources

Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program

With the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling ending the CDC's eviction moratorium, help is still available.  The Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program provides aid to eligible households.  For details and eligibility, visit or call the Housing Recovery Help Line 855-300-5885 or 515-348-8813.  There is information for tenants and landlords. 

Note:  Linn County, Polk County and the City of Des Moines will be administering the program locally. Therefore, Iowans residing in  Linn or Polk County or the City of Des Moines will be ineligible to apply for the Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program. More information on the program that may assist Polk County and City of Des Moines residents is available at IMPACT Community Action Partnership or call 515-518-4770 for rental assistance, housing, and other help. 

Information on assistance for Linn County residents can be found here: Linn County Emergency Rental Assistance. The online application is available in multiple languages.

Another resource is the Iowa Emergency Solutions Grant program that helps to prevent households from becoming homeless due to eviction, and assists Iowans experiencing homelessness to quickly regain rental housing.  For more information, call the Housing Recovery Help Line 855-300-5885 or 515-348-8813. 

Iowans are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney to understand their rights. 

Additional resources:

Labor Rights

Migrant workers are crucial and essential workers in different sectors of the workforce, particularly during the pandemic. During Labor Rights Week, the U.S. Department of Labor is highlighting the importance for workers and employers to understand their rights and responsibilities.  All workers in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, have the same right to a safe and healthful workplace and full payment of wages earned. The U.S. Department of Labor is available to speak with you in Spanish and many other languages. To learn more about workplace safety, wages, and protections against coronavirus, visit

Labor Rights Week

Important Change for SSI Recipients and Applicants

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides financial help to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. The Social Security Administration  recently changed their rules about how pandemic-related financial assistance can affect an individual’s eligibility for SSI or monthly SSI benefit amount. Previously, the Social Security Administration had been counting many types of assistance as income and resources for SSI purposes, resulting in individuals having their SSI benefits reduced or suspended, or having their applications for SSI benefits denied. However, due to the severity of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration has decided they will not count most types of pandemic-related financial assistance against SSI eligibility or benefit amount. Read more here.

LaMetta Wynn's Legacy

LaMetta Wynn, the first African-American woman to hold the Office of Mayor in any Iowa municipality, passed away in June 2021. In addition to her service to the City of Clinton, Iowa, Ms. Wynn further shared her leadership by serving on the state's Vision Iowa Board, the Commission on the Status of African-Americans, and the Iowa State Board of Education. Ms. Wynn leaves behind a lasting legacy of leadership and service to the state of Iowa. Read obituary.

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)

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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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