The City of Minneapolis offers free services to help property owners remove racial covenants from their properties’ legal title.
The City of Minneapolis is pleased to offer the new Just Deeds Project. The initiative gives Minneapolis homeowners the chance to learn about and discharge the racial covenants recorded on their properties. It also allows homeowners to reclaim their homes as equitable spaces.
Racial covenants were documents recorded against a home’s legal title which banned property owners from selling, renting, or allowing their home to be used by people of certain races. Racial covenants were recorded on homes in Minneapolis by developers and homeowners starting in the 1910s. The use of racial covenants forced Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (“BIPOC”) members of our community to live in racially segregated areas of the City. In these segregated areas, BIPOC residents could not get mortgages, buy property, or build wealth.
Racial covenants were outlawed by 1968 and are no longer enforceable. Yet, BIPOC members of our community still experience the harm caused by these covenants. In 2010, Minneapolis’ population included 69% white residents and 19% Black residents. However, in the neighborhoods where racial covenants had been common, the population was still 73-90% white. Similarly, the neighborhoods that BIPOC people had been forced to move to still had populations of 43-62% Black residents. Racially segregated neighborhoods generally have fewer parks and trees, more environmental hazards, poor access to supermarkets and medical care, and underfunded schools. In 2019, Minneapolis’ Black homeownership rate of 25% was the lowest of any metro area in the nation. The Indigenous homeownership rate was 49%, the Hispanic homeownership rate was 50%, and the Asian homeownership rate was 60%. Meanwhile, the non-Hispanic white homeownership rate was 77%.
From 2016 to 2020, the Mapping Prejudice team at the University of Minnesota used technology and volunteers to review thousands of documents looking for racial covenants. They found over 8,000 racial covenants recorded against properties in the City of Minneapolis alone.
In 2019, Minneapolis Senator Jeff Hayden and Minneapolis Representative Jim Davnie successfully championed legislation that enables Minnesota homeowners to formally respond to racially restrictive covenants on their home titles. In 2020, the City of Golden Valley developed the idea for the Just Deeds Project and organized the Just Deeds Coalition – a group of community stakeholders committed to acknowledging and addressing systemic racism in housing in Minnesota.
The Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office will continue this important work through its Just Deeds Project. Participation in the City’s Just Deeds Project is free to eligible applicants. Properties must be in the City of Minneapolis and must be shown in red on the Mapping Prejudice Map. All owners of the property must sign the application and take part in the Project. Applications will be reviewed and approved in the order they are received, subject to staff availability.
If we approve you for the Project, we will give you resources so you can learn about racial covenants and other discriminatory housing practices, the lasting harm of those practices, and the City’s ongoing work to repair the harm. The City will assist you by getting a copy of your racial covenant, drafting a discharge form, and filing your form on your property’s legal title. There is no cost for these services. Hennepin County has also waived document access and recording fees for Just Deed Project participants. As a result, the Project is free for eligible applicants.
Information above copied from the City of Minneapolis Just Deeds information page