Equity in Place Letter of Support for MPLS Tenant Protection Ordinances

On August 28, 2019, the Alliance submitted the following letter to the Minneapolis Mayor and City Council, supporting proposed tenant protection ordinances. Read more about the issue here.

Equity in Place (EIP) is a diverse group of strategic partners from organizations led by people of color and housing advocacy organizations who believe that everyone in the Twin Cities region deserves access to opportunity wherever they want to live. Every day, our communities experience the legacy and ongoing impact of structural racism in the development and growth patterns of our region, especially as it pertains to access to housing, property ownership, and wealth building opportunities.

As such, we write in support of the tenant protection ordinances being considered by the Minneapolis City Council as a critical step toward not just affordable housing but equitable housing and housing justice. 

Due to racist policies that led to their intentional exclusion from homeownership, educational resources and workforce opportunities, households of color are vastly more likely to be renters than white households. In Minneapolis, for instance, while 80% of Black, 80% of Native American, 75% of Latino and 66% of Asian households in Minneapolis are renters, only 45% of white households are renters. We continue to be deeply troubled by the implicit and explicit racial bias, fear-mongering and stereotyping that surfaces in conversations about tenants’ rights and stand with city leaders and our coalition partners in stating clearly and unequivocally that renter protections are fundamental to advancing both racial equity and housing stability. 

We appreciate city leaders’ intentional approach to this issue and support the key aspects of the current ordinances, including regulating aggressive barriers in tenant screening practices and limiting unreasonable security deposit charges, because:

  • For generations, our communities have been targeted by racist criminal justice, immigration, credit scoring and banking systems that have intentionally marginalized, criminalized and economically exploited households of color. Reasonable, limited lookback policies related to credit and criminal history are critical to removing unjust barriers to housing that disproportionately impact households of color.
  • Especially in neighborhoods that communities of color call home, tenants are exploited with excessive and burdensome security deposits and far higher levels of evictions. Regulating the behavior of unscrupulous landlords through security deposit caps and ensuring families aren’t indefinitely penalized for unlawful detainers are essential steps to reducing exploitation and enhancing housing access and stability.

As Mayor Frey noted in his recent budget address, development in Minneapolis surpassed $1.8 billion in 2018, but the increase in housing supply must be matched with policies that ensure discriminatory screening practices don’t lock out the communities who are most impacted by our housing crisis. As you know, these are reasonable, modest and common sense policies that are already in place in many cities and states — and widely supported by national and local research. These ordinances do not, in isolation, solve the housing issues in Minneapolis or the region, but they will have an immediate and positive impact on the lives of families that are in urgent, dangerous and undignified housing circumstances.

Equity in Place includes organizations based in cultural and geographic communities across the Twin Cities and we know that housing trends, policies, and patterns are inherently regional: what happens in one city impacts people in other cities, as well. As the largest city and economic center of the region, Minneapolis must be a leader on these issues.

We commend the Minneapolis City Council in taking these necessary steps toward equitable housing in our vibrant, majority-renter city — and look forward to continuing to work with you on the many additional policy changes we need to ensure safe, affordable, dignified housing for all, in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities region.

Equity in Place

Equity in Place is convened by the Alliance and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. Members include:
African Career, Education, and Resources, Inc.
American Indian Family Center
Community Stabilization Project
Frogtown Neighborhood Association
Hope Community
Housing Justice Center
Jewish Community Action
Minnesotans Standing Together to End Poverty and Homelessness
Native American Community Development Institute
New American Development Center
Pueblos de Lucha y Esperanza
Urban Homeworks
West Side Community Organization