Housing ordinance dispute goes on

Despite a year-long review, a dozen public meetings and a growing number of calls for repeal, the city of St. Louis Park still has no plan on how to address a controversial housing ordinance first exposed by KSTP-TV. 

That investigation in November 2018 revealed police were forcing landlords to evict people for suspected criminal activity under the city’s crime-free, drug-free ordinance, even when they were never charged or, in some cases, accused of a crime. 

Police and city officials have repeatedly defended enforcement of the ordinance as an effective tool to reduce crime. But others have said the ordinance allows discrimination, including discrimination against people with disabilities. 

However, weeks after that investigation aired, St. Louis Park City Council members passed a moratorium that indefinitely suspended enforcement of the ordinance and directed a work group to study the policy and its impacts. 

Since then, opposition has steadily grown among renters, homeowners and housing advocates who say it is a discriminatory policy. 

The workgroup formally recommended that the city do away with the ordinance. In a presentation to the public, the group gave two options to do so: revise the ordinance to get rid of compulsory evictions or repeal it entirely. Yet city leaders have set no date to act on the ordinance. 

Research from the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law has shown an increase in the rollback of these types of ordinances in recent years. But senior staff attorney Marie Clair Tran Leung says there is still a reluctance to get rid of the policies. 

It’s now up to the city council to decide what happens next. 

Source: KSTP-TV