Single Black mothers face the highest risk of eviction in the United States. North Minneapolis is no different. From 2013 to 2015, about 50 percent of Northside renter households were hit with at least one eviction filing from their landlord.
Single Black women with children living below the poverty line lead more than 60 percent of the Black households in North Minneapolis. As a result, according to University of Minnesota researchers, 67 percent of residents are on some kind of county and federal assistance.
These families are one financial crisis away from losing their homes.
Researchers at the school’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) led by Dr. Brittnay Lewis commissioned a study to figure out why North Minneapolis residents experience eviction filings at a rate almost 25 percent higher than the neighboring 55402 ZIP code.
In the study, “The Illusion of Choice: Evictions and Profit in North Minneapolis,” the researchers say this high rate is especially eye-raising because the region contains only eight percent of all rental units in Minneapolis.
In short, North Minneapolis landlords, the researchers find, bully low-income, largely Black tenants into changing their housing agreement, or completely kick them out, to turn a quick buck.
“North Minneapolis is a community manufactured to contain undesirable populations through housing discrimination, decades of urban disinvestment, unfair lending practices, and disproportionate evictions,” reads the study.
Eviction filings are not typically used to kick people out. Landlords use eviction filings as a tool to threaten tenants into changing their housing agreements. Only 22 percent of the tenants interviewed for the study received a writ of removal.
“There is a fear premium attached to North Minneapolis,” said a 58-year-old White male property manager quoted in the study. “Because what’s the stereotypical image people have of North Minneapolis? I could tell you: bang bang.”
Worse yet, the study states, options for low-income North Minneapolis residents of color are constrained by “power brokers who can aid or disrupt opportunity at any point.” Unlike landlords in other regions, North Minneapolis property owners are nearly unchecked in making decisions driven by profit instead of housing rights and social impact.
Housing stability for tenants becomes “secondary” when decisions are money-driven, the study said of North Minneapolis landlords.
CURA recommends extending the length of the eviction process, creating a “humane and timely approach to emergency assistance,” and ending Hennepin County Shelters requiring people to pay per bed.
Solomon Gustavo was a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.