St. Paul, Minn. – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz today signed into law legislation to enable Minnesota homeowners an opportunity to formally respond to racially restrictive covenants on their home titles. Racial covenants are clauses in housing titles that were used by real estate developers in the 20th century to discriminate against and prevent people of color from buying, owning, or even residing in certain property.
In response to the racially restrictive covenants that many in South Minneapolis inherited on their home titles, Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis) sponsored legislation this year to create a streamlined process for homeowners to respond to racial restrictions in their housing contracts. Although restrictive covenants are already prohibited and have been ruled as unconstitutional, they remain on residential titles and help explain the patterns to housing segregation in Minnesota.
“This is a historic day for Minnesotans,” Rep. Davnie remarked. “While the covenants no longer have any force of law, they still are a moral injury to the current homeowner. This also provides a way for our community to have a conversation about the history of racial discrimination in housing in Minnesota and how it impacts our families and communities today.”
Rep. Davnie’s legislation will allow residents to fill out a form related to the title of the property to clarify the restrictive covenant is ineffective, and legally discharged it from the property.
The law goes into effect August 1, 2019, making Minnesota the third state after California and Washington to enact such a law.
You can learn more about Minneapolis’s housing history from the Mapping Prejudice Project, which is aimed at compiling research related to Jim Crow laws in northern cities.