In a continuing effort to keep the congregation informed on affordable housing issues, your Beacon Housing Committee would like to share a series of articles about the rental discrimination crisis in Minnesota. The following excerpt is from an article in the Minneapolis Star.
Minneapolis to Investigate Landlords for Section 8 Rental Discrimination (Part 1)
For now, the city can enforce its ordinance prohibiting landlords from rejecting tenants because they receive welfare — but landlords are continuing to sue.
The city of Minneapolis has begun investigating landlords for discrimination against renters who receive Section 8 housing vouchers, even as the city continues its legal fight with landlords who have sued to block Minneapolis' income-discrimination ordinance.
Kaela McConnon Diarra, who leads complaint investigations for the city's civil rights department, said the city has received eight complaints in the past year and is now working to inform renters and landlords that the ordinance is in full effect after being temporarily halted by the legal dispute.
It's the latest twist in a legal battle that began in 2017, when Minneapolis tried to expand on state law — which already prohibits housing discrimination by race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and familial status — by making it illegal to exclude prospective tenants solely on the basis that they use public assistance to pay their rent.
One of the sponsors of the ordinance, former Council Member Abdi Warsame, is now executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. On the council, Warsame represented the Sixth Ward, home to a large number of public housing tenants who would complain about the difficulties they faced getting landlords to meet with them.
"Imagine you've been waiting to get this voucher for a long time ... and the landlord just slams the door in your face," Warsame said. "It's something that we couldn't really accept in the modern age."
The ordinance met pushback from the start, with more than 50 real estate companies suing to stop it just three months after City Council approval. The ordinance was held up for years.
Landlords involved in the suit argued the city was forcing them to participate in a program that the federal government considers voluntary, and which they believed would limit their profits and property values. They were also concerned about the "demanding" and "nonnegotiable" contracts they would have to enter into with the MPHA.
Learn what Beacon Interfaith Housing is doing about the housing crisis at beaconinterfaith.org.