Fair housing and deed covenants

There is a display in the lobby of the Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors (SPAAR) called owning up. The display is based on the “Mapping Prejudice” project that maps racist deed restriction in Minneapolis. In 2018, the SPAAR diversity committee partnered with the Mapping Prejudice Project from the University of Minnesota. This research shows the connection between restrictive covenants and disparities in levels of homeownership.

In some neighborhoods, developers put restrictions on deeds so that homes could only be sold to white people. Here is an example:

“ E. No persons of any race other than the Aryan race shall use or occupy any building or any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.” – from a Hennepin County deed

The restrictions were put in place during the first part of the 20th century.

The mapping project shows that the city is segregated today and that it became segregated because of the deed restrictions. Realtors played a role in that and that is what we are owning up to:

1924 COE
Realtor Code of ethics – 1924

People actually believed that people of certain races, nationalities or religions could harm a neighborhood and bring down property values.

Here in the twin cities we currently have the largest racial gap in homeownership rates in the nation with 76% of white households owning homes compared with 22% of black households owning homes. Owning up explores some of the root causes of those disparities.

Eventually, Ramsey County deeds will be examined too and it is likely that some deed will have racial restrictions in them.  My guess is that they can be found in the newer parts of the city closer to the edges. The center of the city was developed in the 1800s. The neighborhoods with the most expensive housing and the best schools are populated by mostly white people.

As a real estate agent/broker/company I am not allowed to recommend a neighborhood or steer someone toward one neighborhood or another. When I list a house for sale I can not make sure that a certain kind of buyer buys the home. The right buyer for any house is the buyer who can pay for the house.


Owning up on display at SPAAR – 325 Roselawn Avenue E. St. paul.


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