Twin Cities suburbs file housing complaint against state

Three Twin Cities suburbs and an interfaith group have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alleging that Minnesota is violating the Fair Housing Act.

Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Richfield and the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing said state agencies and the Metropolitan Council are intentionally concentrating low-income rental housing in segregated "low opportunity" neighborhoods.

A board member with MICAH says the organization wants the Met Council to apply more pressure on predominantly white, affluent suburbs to comply with affordable housing goals.

Brooklyn Center City Manager Curt Boganey said state and Met Council policies have led to a disproportionate amount of affordable housing in certain parts of the Twin Cities metro area. "Places like Brooklyn Center, places like Richfield, places like Brooklyn Park, places like Minneapolis, places like St. Paul, have continued to absorb more and more of the affordable housing, more and more of the poverty, more and more of the concentrations of segregation," he said. "We think that over the last 15 to 20 years, other policies could have made a difference and we think that new policies could change that."

Libby Starling, manager of regional policy and research for the Met Council, says the complaint comes as the Council prepares to vote next month on its first housing-focused policy since 1985.

"What we are trying to do is propose a set of policies to expand options so that people who are currently living in concentrations of poverty have more options to live elsewhere," she said, "and that those areas that are now concentrations of poverty receive the array of investments, programs and services they need so they are no longer concentrations of poverty."

The Met Council's housing policy plan goes to a vote Dec. 10.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency says it is reviewing the complaint.

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