Dubuque Cares Act
Dubuque Cares Act

Dubuque, Iowa (population 57,501), is located on the Mississippi River and is a center of cultural and commercial activity for the tri-state region of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The median household income is $58,000. Home to five higher education institutions, the median age of the population is 37.

Nonprofit Food Assistance to Low/Moderate Income Families

The number of people who are food insecure in Dubuque County grew from 8,500 before the pandemic to 13,455 in October.  One way that Dubuque addressed this problem was to provide a CARES Act grant to Convivium Urban Farmstead. Convivium’s program provides free, healthy, fully prepared take ‘n bake meals for low/moderate income residents of Dubuque, Iowa, who have been negatively impacted by COVID. The program utilized CARES Act funding, produce from Convivium’s garden, and donations from St. Stephen’s food bank to prepare 100 casseroles to be given away each week, for 12 weeks. The meals, with recipes included, were prepared with basic kitchen tools and familiar ingredients to encourage families to recreate the meals at home. Six weeks into the program, Convivium had handed out 1,150 fully prepared casseroles to families with an average household size of 3.3 people, benefitting approximately 2,120 low/moderate income residents of Dubuque. Convivium needs more funding to continue the program in 2021.

Short-Term Assistance Program for Rent, Mortgage, and Utilities

The target recipient for this program is anyone who experienced a significant financial impact because their earned income was impacted by COVID-19. They must fall under the 50% AMI and not receive any other assistance. The recipient needed to be in good standing before the pandemic. Each recipient can receive up to a $1,000 per month for 3 months. These payments are spread over housing costs, as well as utility costs. The Short-Term Assistance Program makes direct payments to landlords and utility companies. Staff have also been able to leverage other resources for the recipient, such as LiHEAP assistance, Christmas giveaway, and food insecurity assistance. The Short-Term Assistance Program was implemented by a team of six within Dubuque’s Housing and Community Development Department.

Total individuals served:  41 (21 adults, 20 children)

  • 39% Black
  • 61% White
  • 50% Female head of household.

Total amount spent: $38,892.49 (average per household, $2,160.69)

  • 13 payments to landlords
  • 5 payments to mortgage companies
  • 26 payments to utility companies.

Examples of recipients who benefited from this short-term assistance:

  1. A single mother of four children who was working at a nursing home when the pandemic began.  She contracted COVID-19 and was sent home. During the time of her recovery, schools and daycares were closed.  She was unable to return to work because she had to care for her children.  She received a total of $2,710 in assistance, allowing her to avoid eviction and having her utilities disconnected.
  2. A veteran was able to remain housed with CARES Act assistance after he lost his retail position due to the pandemic.  The program assisted him with his basic housing needs so he could focus on obtaining a new job.  After three months, he started a new position and is able to afford his living costs. 

Dubuque continues to see the need for financial assistance every day. There has been another surge of the virus in the Midwest, causing many illnesses and shutdowns, which resulted in additional financial hardships. Dubuque is seeing the impact of the eviction moratorium that was lifted and the depletion of people’s “rainy day” funds. To date, this program has had 928 inquiries and 123 full applicants. Front-line staff are inundated daily with phone calls from people looking for financial resources.