Last night the St. Louis Park unanimously repealed their Crime Free/Drug Free Ordinance. This ordinance forced the displacement of hundreds of renters, evicted from their homes despite not being charged with any crime.
This is the culmination of more than two years of organizing by JCA, the St. Louis Park Housing Team and partners.
Here’s how we got here.
In 2018, KSTP ran a story detailing the City of St. Louis Park's Crime Free/Drug Free Multi-Family Housing Ordinance called "Evicted Before Convicted".
Over 10 years, this law was responsible for more than the evictions of more than 225 tenants. 150 of those tenants—two out of every three—were never actually charged with a crime.
The majority of homeowners in SLP, who are not affected by this law, are White. The majority of Black residents in SLP are renters. This law had a hugely disparate impact on Black residents compared to White residents.
As one landlord who was forced by police to evict his tenant said: “It’s like creating a gated community without the gates”
JCA had already been organizing for housing justice in St. Louis Park for years, and had just won the passing of a 90 Day Tenant Protection Ordinance, becoming the first city in the country to require a grace period for residents after their building had been sold to new ownership.
So after KSTP’s report aired, the SLP Community Housing Team along with HOME Line and other advocate organizations, penned a letter to the city council which outlined our beliefs and demanded the end to this discriminatory law.
Almost immediately, the city halted enforcement on the ordinance until it could be studied further, and formed the Crime Free Ordinance Workgroup. The Workgroup included renters, homeowners, property owners and managers, as well as community members at large. They embarked on an 8 month process to dig into the weeds of the policy, with the goal of coming to a consensus on the future of the policy.
Meanwhile, we organized a “Deep Canvas” of Saint Louis Park. Over six weekends, more than 50 JCA volunteers knocked on nearly 900 doors in St. Louis Park, both single family homes and multi-family apartment buildings, to have conversations with neighbors about the ordinance.
Over 225 conversations later, and we found most of the people we talked to, didn't agree with the ordinance.
This all led up to last night’s repeal. This is a huge win for renters and any resident of St. Louis Park who doesn’t want their neighbors to be forcibly evicted by police.
It’s also a historic victory. Similar laws have been nixed by judicial order for violating federal housing protections. But this is the first time a Crime Free/Drug Free Housing Ordinance has been repealed by the city due to public pressure.
But here’s the thing: over fifty other cities in the Twin Cities metro, and in the US, have similar laws. We’re building on this momentum. Along with our partners as part of the Suburban Hennepin Housing Coalition we are organizing to repeal these laws, protect renters and promote affordable housing.
Want to get involved as we continue advocating for housing justice in the Twin Cities? Contact our Housing Organizer and Certified Mensch™ Aaron Berc at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's keep fighting, let's keep winning.