Minneapolis Housing Activists Hope To Revive 2014 Federal Complaint

A 2014 complaint about segregated housing lodged with the Department of Housing and Urban Development could revive integrationist housing policies to improve opportunities for all residents.

May 18, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


An image of St. Paul, Minnesota and the Mississippi River at nightfall.

Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock

“Although Minneapolis remained over 90 percent white until the 1980s, civil rights activists scored serious victories in the mid-20th century. But as the city, and region, grew more diverse, desegregationist policies were increasingly stymied,” writes Jake Blumgart in Governing. Today, “The majority of the region’s subsidized housing is built in lower-income areas, while over a quarter of Black students go to deeply segregated schools — up from almost none 30 years ago.”

These conditions aren’t unique to Minneapolis. “Last year, a study out of the University of California, Berkeley, found that 81 percent of American metropolitan areas with populations over 200,000 were more segregated in 2019 than they had been in 1990.” Meanwhile, research shows that residents of resource-rich neighborhoods have better economic and health outcomes, making where you live a key determinant of social well-being.

Now, local activists are bringing attention to a 2014 complaint lodged with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that could “reinvigorate more integrationist policies” if HUD threatens to withhold funds. “But, given how long the 2014 case has been left on the back burner, there are legitimate questions of whether this form of pressure will bring relief in a meaningful time frame,” warns Blumgart. Additionally, “The complaint about the Metropolitan Council wouldn’t address housing in Minneapolis and St. Paul (those cities already settled a separate complaint brought by [Michael Allen, a national civil rights lawyer]).”

However, “Prominent leaders in the region, like Minneapolis’ Jacob Frey, also express broad support of the goals of building more subsidized housing in more privileged neighborhoods and municipalities.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 in Governing

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