Newsmakers: Plymouth Joins Just Deeds Project Coalition
Plymouth has joined the Just Deeds Project coalition, which means residents will be able to remove any discriminatory covenants at no cost to the homeowner.
The Just Deeds Project is a group of real estate professionals, lawyers, advocates and community members in Minnesota working together to acknowledge and address systemic racism in housing.
In the early 20th century, real estate developers included discriminatory covenants in deeds to prevent a property from being sold, leased or occupied based on race, religion or ethnicity. Although this is legally unenforceable following the Fair Housing Act of 1968, many of these covenants remain on property deeds.
Plymouth Joins Just Deeds
The Plymouth City Council passed a resolution for the city to participate in Just Deeds at the Oct. 24 meeting.
“Recently we developed some strategic themes around being a city of choice. That includes creating equitable and inclusive policies and generally creating a welcoming community for all people,” explained Paul Johnson, organization development and equity partner for the city of Plymouth. “We want to make sure that anyone moving into the city of Plymouth feels welcome and if a family moves in and sees this on their deed, it’s not going to feel welcome.”
Johnson says by publicly condemning and discharging covenants, it sends a message to current and future residents that Plymouth is a welcoming community.
“It also really starts the conversation around the history of systemic racism,” added Johnson.
According to data by Mapping Prejudice, a University of Minnesota research project, there are more than 24,000 racial covenants included in property deeds in Hennepin County, including 245 in Plymouth.
“We’ve sent out postcards to 245 identified households, so if you received a postcard, it will have step by step directions with what to do next to discharge the covenant,” said Johnson. “We’ve had 11 households identify that they are interested, so we’ve already had a really positive response.”
Residents can also check out PlymouthMN.gov/JustDeeds for step-by-step directions or an application form. After that, Just Deeds will pair a homeowner with a pro-bono lawyers who will help the homeowner through the process.