Inclusive Dubuque Workshop Highlights + Poll Results

Inclusive Dubuque Workshop
December 14, 2016, 9-10:30 AM
Roshek Building, McCarthy Center for Nonprofit Learning, 700 Locust St.

On Wednesday, December 14th Comprehensive Plan outreach was conducted with Inclusive Dubuque.  Organizations dedicated to social justice including faith, education, nonprofit, business, and government groups shared their insights on how to use the Comprehensive Plan as a tool to make Dubuque more equitable.   Over 50 network members were in attendance representing organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, Clarke University, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, IBM, Multicultural Family Center, and St. Mark Youth Enrichment.



Mike Hoffman, project consultant with Teska Associates, Inc., and Dave Johnson, project lead with the City of Dubuque, opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and providing an overview of the Comprehensive Plan, its purpose, timeline, and the importance of public participation in guiding the process.

Mike introduced the guiding principles of the plan and how these can work together to create a more equitable Dubuque.  Upcoming workshops focused on Environmental Integrity (February 21), Social + Cultural Vibrancy (April 19), and Equity (June 27) were promoted to the group.  Inclusive Dubuque’s network of local leaders and work with underserved populations will be key to ensuring that Comprehensive Plan outreach is 022117_public_workshop_2_112116representative of the visions of all residents.

Join us! Your city, your plan, your future:


After the presentation, a short voting exercise was completed to generate ideas for roundtable discussions.  Participants were able to vote using their smartphones, and results were displayed in real time.  Questions focused on the strength of diversity in Dubuque, ensuring inclusive outcomes throughout the planning process, and equity challenges related to the economy, health, housing, and transportation.


What are some strengths of our diversity in Dubuque?

The audience was asked how diversity strengthens Dubuque.  The most common answer selected was that diversity creates an attractive environment in which millennials choose to work and live.  Another common answer was attracting and retaining a diverse employee base to help address the skills gap, with 50% of respondents selecting that choice.  Many participants view diversity as an economic asset to Dubuque’s future.  See full results below:


How might we best insure inclusive outcomes with Imagine Dubuque?

Most participants (41%) called for inclusive and tailored community engagement as a means to insure inclusive results as part of the comprehensive planning effort.  Goals and metrics were also cited as one of the best ways to achieve inclusive outcomes, with one-third (33%) stating such.  Another quarter (26%) of participants felt that partnering with Inclusive Dubuque network members for future workshops was the best means to insure inclusive outcomes.


How might we best insure inclusive outcomes within the Inclusive Dubuque network?

As for the Inclusive Dubuque network, monitoring metrics (45%) and joint efforts with non-network organizations (45%) were both considered to be the best way to insure inclusive outcomes.  Community events that bring all sectors of the community together was considered best by 7% of respondents.  Some of these events include: the Multicultural Family Center’s “Taste the World” event, Juneteenth – a commemoration of the end of slavery in the US, and the NAACP’s September barbeque.


What are the greatest challenges to equitable housing in Dubuque?

Participants were asked what the greatest challenges to equitable housing in Dubuque were.  A lack of quality housing for those making less than Area Median Income (67%) and a lack of affordable housing for those making less than 30% of Area Median Income (43%) received the most votes.  A mismatch between the location of jobs and the location of affordable housing was cited by 27% of respondents.


What are Dubuque’s biggest transportation issues as they relate to equity?

The majority of respondents felt that limited evening and weekend service was most detrimental to transportation equity in Dubuque.  A third (32%) of respondents felt that a need for better implementation of complete streets policies and a need for better regional public transportation (i.e. train service to Chicago, the Twin Cities, or Madison) was the biggest issue, respectively.  Other issues raised included: over two-hour commutes due to poor bus route connectivity, and the inability to schedule multiple services in one day due to transit gaps.


What are the biggest health issues as they relate to equity in Dubuque?

Availability of mental health services (75%) was voted as the biggest health equity issue.  Affordability of fresh, healthy food (46%) was also considered the biggest issue on the topic by many.  A few participants raised other concerns: access to healthcare for the Marshallese community, the affordability of healthcare services in general, and the social component of health.


What are Dubuque’s biggest economic issues related to equity?

Many felt that the jobs available are low-skill, low-pay jobs (47%) and the availability of childcare (43%) are the biggest issues to economic equity.  Participants felt equally about a lack of opportunity for advancement with existing jobs (23%) and transportation issues of getting from home to work (23%).


Roundtable Discussions

Next, roundtable discussions were conducted focused on the following topics as they relate to equity: housing, transportation, health, and the economy.  Specific questions asked pertained to the quick-poll voting results, recent successes, comparable communities, and how the Comprehensive Plan might begin to address these issues. Themes of the conversations are shared below.



Biggest issues:

  • The rental housing that is available is concentrated and substandard
  • Landlords do not accept housing vouchers or discriminate among prospective tenants.
  • Realtors and landlords are not showing quality housing
  • This is an exercise in perception
  • Housing issues are felt across income strata
  • Affordable housing is too far from jobs or transportation and not all families have cars
  • Businesses need to be in tune with employee needs
  • More flexible transit with extended service hours is needed

Movement or progress made by Dubuque in the past year, and if this has made a difference:

  • The city is denser, but not sure what effect this has had on affordable housing
  • The City has rehabbed housing
  • Recently arriving residents can offer a fresh perspective

Suggestions for how Dubuque can better address this issue:

  • More accessible data
  • How can the City incorporate rehabbed housing into the Plan?
  • Separate perceptions from facts
  • Explore how housing issues are linked to poverty


Biggest issues:

  • Concerns over bike safety
  • The impact of climate, topography, and aging infrastructure on bike facilities
  • Better regional transportation to locations west as well as from Chicago
  • Transportation service for Marshallese population to better connect with medical services
  • Confusion regarding the purpose of the intermodal transportation facility

Movement or progress made by Dubuque in the past year, and if this has made a difference:

  • Traffic circle

Importance of this topic being addressed in the Comprehensive Plan:

  • How is transportation equity connected to other parts of the Plan?

Suggestions for how Dubuque can better address this issue:

  • Collaborate between Tri-State Area (WI, IL, IA) for better regional transportation
  • Increase bus service evening hours for third shift workers
  • LaCrosse, WI would be an excellent model for a better bus system
  • Van shuttles for facilities or activity hubs


Biggest issues:

  • Access and cost of healthcare for 18-24 year olds
  • Access to affordable and healthy foods
  • Transportation – getting people to the healthcare services
  • Solutions may not be at the local level
  • Mental health services are falling behind
  • Silos in local health care

Suggestions for how Dubuque can better address this issue:

  • Focus on preventative health
  • Advocate on State and Federal Level
  • Collaborate on local resources to bring people to healthcare


Biggest issues:

  • The greatest number of openings are in lower pay jobs
  • High levels of unemployment among minorities
  • An increase in the poverty rate
  • Low participation rate among minorities in job training
  • Employers need a plan to attract minority employees
  • Low number of minority workers in the trades
  • Transportation challenges and childcare access are real issues
  • Residents might stay in low income area in order to maintain housing assistance

Movement or progress made by Dubuque in the past year, and if this has made a difference:

  • Reengagement center
  • Interest in hiring minorities
  • Diverse colleges

Suggestions for how Dubuque can better address this issue:

  • Need ability to improve your status

Enthusiastic discussion followed after the completion of the roundtable discussions.  While the goal of outreach is often to ask the community what the public sector can do to achieve policy outcomes, one participant thought residents could be asked what they themselves could do to benefit the community.

Following the discussion, participants were encouraged to participate in upcoming community workshops: Environmental Integrity (February 21), Social + Cultural Vibrancy (April 19), and Equity (June 27).  In the meantime, additional comments and news can be shared through the project website, , or via the project app.

This is your city, your plan, your future! We want to hear from you.

Click here to RSVP for the February 21st Environmental Integrity Workshop.