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Beacon Housing Update

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 Part 2 from an article in the Minneapolis Star.

 

Minneapolis to Investigate Landlords for Section 8 Rental Discrimination (Part 2)

 

In 2018, a Hennepin County judge sided with the landlords on some of their claims and told the city to throw out the ordinance [that states landlords cannot discriminate on the basis that they use public assistance to pay their rent]. The city got that decision overturned on appeal — affirmed by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2020 — and reduced the order to a temporary suspension of enforcement while the parties continued to argue over the issues.

 

Last December, the district court ruled in the favor of the city, with Judge Patrick Robben writing: "It is simply not the case that the [ordinance] is attempting to commandeer [the landlords'] private property for public use … They are in the business of renting housing. The [ordinance] merely seeks to regulate their treatment of members of the public who hold vouchers."


The landlords appealed, and the legal fight continues. Oral arguments in the Court of Appeals are next month. In the meantime, the city is allowed to enforce the ordinance.


Tenants can file complaints even if there wasn't something as explicit as "no Section 8" advertising at a property, McConnon Diarra said. If they have reason to believe there was implicit income-source discrimination, the city would help them draft a charge to send to the property owner, and the property owner would have to defend against it. The city has had success mediating between renters and landlords to resolve cases, she said.


"The expectation being if it's a part of their process — that they are not accepting folks with Section 8 housing choice vouchers — that process needs to change, or they can expect to receive continued complaints," McConnon Diarra said.


Learn what Beacon Interfaith Housing is doing about the housing crisis at beaconinterfaith.org.


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