HUD and Dubuque, IA Settle Voucher Discrimination Allegations
On April 15, HUD announced reaching a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with the City of Dubuque, IA, settling HUD allegations that Dubuque discriminated against African Americans in the administration of its Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) issued a Letter of Findings of Noncompliance regarding the voucher residency preference policies of Dubuque on June 17, 2013 (see Memo, 6/28/13). That letter followed a civil rights review conducted in 2011 that found the City out of compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, FHEO alleged that changes Dubuque made to its voucher program admissions policy had the effect of restricting the ability of African Americans to obtain vouchers and relocate to Dubuque.
In 2007, Dubuque’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) implemented a new residency preference point allotment system because there was an “influx of people coming in and applying from other areas.” The new preference system awarded points on a cumulative basis, giving Dubuque applicants 30 points, County residents 20 points, and Iowa residents 15 points. In other words, a Dubuque resident could automatically have a 65-point advantage. According to the 2010 Census, African Americans comprised 2% of Dubuque County and 2.9% of the State of Iowa.
In the summer of 2009, public perceptions attributed an increase in crime to new African American residents from Chicago, leading HCDD to close the voucher wait list and change the admission policy, effectively allowing only out of state disabled or elderly voucher applicants. FHEO found an internal memorandum indicating that the intent of the policy change was to close the waiting list to out of town applicants in order to address public perceptions on crime.
Also in late 2009, Dubuque implemented a nine-month freeze on issuing new vouchers with the intent to reduce the number of assisted households from 1,076 to 900. Finally, HCDD conducted a significant purge of its waiting list in 2010, resulting in 387 African Americans falling off the list, compared to 168 Whites.
The terms of the VCA will be in effect for seven years. Key provisions of the agreement include:
- Eliminating the residency preference system,
- Submitting any future changes to its voucher distribution system to HUD for approval,
- Increasing voucher lease up efforts in order to award 1,063 vouchers annually by June 2015,
- Hiring or appointing an Agreement Administrator,
- Updating its 2010 Analysis of Impediments (AI) to fair housing choice,
- Amending the voucher Administrative Plan regarding the voucher application process and waiting list purge policy,
- Providing detailed strategies in the 2015 Consolidated Plan to increase housing opportunities for minority populations throughout Dubuque,
- Highlighting in the 2015 PHA Plan’s Mission Statement, “The provision of shelter is a basic human need,”
- Submitting a full PHA Annual Plan, rather than a Streamlined PHA Plan, and
- Developing an outreach plan to ensure that information about the voucher program and any opening of the waiting list reaches minority populations in Dubuque and the surrounding interstate area.
View a HUD media release with a link to the Voluntary Compliance Agreement at: http://1.usa.gov/1jTFKJW
HUD and Nebraska Reach Agreement Regarding Limited English Proficiency
On April 11, HUD announced reaching a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with the State of Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development (DED). The VCA addressed HUD’s charge that DED had not taken reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to federally funded programs for people with limited English proficiency (LEP). DED administers the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships programs.
HUD conducted an on-site compliance review in July 2011, and subsequently issued a Letter of Findings of Noncompliance dated May 31, 2013.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that no one shall, “on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” In order to comply with Title VI, Nebraska must ensure that programs and activities can be accessed by persons with limited English proficiency in order to avoid discrimination based on national origin. An LEP person is someone who does not speak English as their primary language and who has limited ability to read, write, or understand English because of their national origin.
The terms of the VCA will be in effect for three years and include:
1. Applying the “Four-Factor Analysis” in HUD’s LEP Guidance dated January 22, 2007. The analysis must determine:
a) The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by a program,
b) The frequency with which LEP persons come into contact with a program,
c) The nature and importance of a program, and
d) The resources available to carry out a program and the costs of providing LEP services.
2. Developing a Language Access Plan (LAP) to address the needs identified in the Four-Factor Analysis, which shall include (in part):
a. Procedures to identify LEP persons, the size of LEP populations, and the languages of LEP populations,
b. Points and types of contact,
c. Ways in which language assistance will be provided,
d. A plan for outreach,
e. A list of vital documents to be translated,
f. A plan for translating informational material,
g. A plan for providing translated notices, and
h. A plan for providing interpreters for large, medium, small, and one-on-one meetings.
3. Training and monitoring subrecipients (such as local governments receiving CDBG or HOME funds from the state) to ensure sub-recipients comply with LEP requirements.
View a HUD media release with a link to the Voluntary Compliance Agreement at: http://1.usa.gov/1gSmnfJ