MN court rules in favor of Minneapolis in Section 8 housing ordinance

Marcus McEwen
Marcus McEwen applies for Section 8 housing vouchers in North Regional Library in Minneapolis in June 2008. In 2018, a district court judge struck down the city ordinance that bans landlords from discriminating against prospective renters solely because they receive Section 8 vouchers.
Brandt Williams | MPR News 2008

The city of Minneapolis has won the latest round in a court battle about landlords and Section 8 rental subsidy vouchers.

The city is hailing a state appeals court decision allowing the city to ban landlords from discriminating against prospective renters solely because they receive Section 8 vouchers. A year ago, a district court judge struck down the ordinance.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said the appeals court ruling is a significant victory in the effort to advance affordable housing.

"The is a very strong affirmance that the city was acting appropriately, that it had a rational basis for pursuing this ordinance," she said.

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Tom Fletcher, one of the landlords who sued the city over the ordinance, said he expects an appeal to the state Supreme Court. Landlords contended the ordinance was unlawful and violated the state constitution .

"I'm not saying at this point that we will appeal to the Supreme Court," he said. "But I would consider it very likely that we will appeal the decision."

Meanwhile, Segal said the city could start enforcing the ordinance.

Eric Hauge, executive director of HOME Line, a tenant advocacy organization, praised the appeals court ruling. "What the city was doing by enacting this was an attempt to really support renters and address systemic historical patterns of segregation throughout the city," he said

Minneapolis provides about 3,900 Section 8 vouchers to renters. But the demand for the vouchers far exceeds the supply. Families pay 30 percent of their income toward rent and the housing authority pays the rest, for eligible apartments. A family of four with $30,000 in income, for instance, could get a rental voucher worth $850 a month.