Advocates Push for Policy Reform to Overcome History of Discriminatory Deed Covenants

The debate about police reform in Minneapolis is only one arena for the city's reckoning with systemic racism.

June 11, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Twin Cities

Gian Lorenzo Ferretti / Shutterstock

The protests sweeping the nation started in Minneapolis, a city that has frequently taken the lead on matters of social and economic justice among U.S. cities. But that track record hasn't done enough to overcome the discriminatory underpinnings of the racist housing covenants that stacked the economic deck against Black residents and people of color in the city.

According to an article by Jared Brey, volunteers working for the Mapping Prejudice project, first reported by Next City in 2017, have uncovered evidence of the "deep racial inequalities that contradict the city’s self-image as a bastion of progressive politics."

The city has increased funding for its Affordable Housing Trust Fund since 2018 and approved an innovative comprehensive plan to implement a supply-side approach to housing affordability by legalizing new Missing Middle density in residential neighborhoods across the city. "But housing advocates are still trying to push through tenant protections like just-cause eviction rules and rent control, while acknowledging that housing inequality can’t be undone by housing policy alone," according to Brey.

Led by The Alliance, a coalition of community groups focused on regional equity, advocates in Minneapolis are pushing for the Equity in Place policy agenda, "which would give tenants the right of first refusal when their building owner plans to sell, similar to laws in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco," according to Brey. "The agenda also includes community control of land and housing through community land trusts, reforming tenant-screening processes, and increasing funding for community organizing work."

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