Dubuque County Streamlines Rent and Utility Assistance for Residents | News from the three states


The Dubuque County Oversight Board recently approved changes to rent assistance and utilities after the county resumed general assistance operations this month.

The changes include a new process for admitting clients, a shorter application, and changes to the amount of assistance applicants receive from county funding.

The Dubuque County Veterans’ Department managed General Assistance, which provides income-based payments to help with rent, utilities, and burial costs, until supervisors contract out the program. to the Resources Unite association from 2019.

Resources Unite took care of it until June 30 this year, after supervisors voted to bring the service back in-house under the supervision of Veterans Affairs.

Now, applicants seeking rent assistance or utilities will be encouraged to call Community Solutions of Eastern Iowa at 833-587-8322. Staff there work with a group of organizations that provide similar assistance to county residents.

“General assistance is a very small player among these different groups,” said Ed Raber, Dubuque County project coordinator. “We’re not case managers either. We are more of a funder than a supplier. So one of those partners would call and say, “We can help them a lot, but they need a little more. “

Community Solutions staff will determine which partner program best matches the needs and qualifications of applicants. If General Help is one of these programs, Community Solutions will call Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs Director Randy Rennison told the Board of Supervisors at a recent meeting that the change will reduce the amount the county pays per claimant by targeting specific general assistance program needs.

“We would handle more short-term aid for people, to help them get through a difficult situation,” he said.

As a result of this change, the new guidelines reduce the maximum annual assistance for a single applicant from $ 1,000 to $ 325 and the maximum annual assistance for a family from $ 2,000 to $ 425. This means that more applicants could potentially receive county assistance.

Applicants to the program will also have a shorter and less complicated application. The previous request was over a dozen pages long, required more than 30 signatures and many documents.

“Because we don’t follow up, we were trying to do all this information gathering up front,” Raber said. “It took forever. People were waiting far too long.

Rennison said he felt some of the information previously requested was unnecessary.

“Why ask a person to sign their name 33 times for different articles? ” He asked. “I don’t think (supervisors) really need how many times they’ve got married, where their family is. We have narrowed it down to what the county really needs. “

Veterans Affairs will continue to handle the burial assistance portion of the general assistance program, as staff there already do similar work with veterans in the region.

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