Dubuque admits its housing program discriminated against blacks - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque admits its housing program discriminated against blacks

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The city of Dubuque is admitting its Section 8 rental assistance program for low-income families was negatively impacting African Americans for years.

That acknowledgment comes after a report this week from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Exactly two hears ago, HUD was in Dubuque, reviewing the city's Section 8 program. Its findings didn't emerge in report form until this week and with some dismaying findings.

According to HUD, changes in Dubuque's Section 8 program between 2007 and 2011 resulted in discrimination against African Americans.

Mike Van Milligen, Dubuque's city manager, says the city acknowledges and regrets the "unintended consequences to the things that we initiated, and HUD has pointed that out to us, and we've taken some corrective action."

For example, the report says, Dubuque in 2007 implemented a residency preference that favored people living in the Dubuque area.

HUD says that discriminated against black people moving from places like Milwaukee or Chicago.

"HUD has said that they don't want us to have that system anymore, so we've already eliminated that," Van Milligen said.

HUD also cites the city of Dubuque for reducing its number of housing vouchers at the end of 2009 from more than 1,000 down to 900.

"That was an attempt to create a manageable case load for our caseworkers and provide a better level of service to the customers that we had in the program," Van Milligen said.

However, HUD said the voucher decrease disproportionately affected those at the bottom of the waiting list, which included many black families.

Though the report came out just this week, the city says it has been working with HUD since 2011 to make improvements to its housing program. Improvements include cultivating programs specifically aimed at helping low-income families on Section 8 housing arrive at a place of greater self-sufficiency.

HUD and Dubuque are continuing to work out the city's noncompliance through voluntary actions.

To read HUD's full report on Dubuque's low-income housing program, click HERE.

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