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Minnesota"Crime-Free" Housing Program Discriminatory Towards Tenants With Mental Health Disabilities

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Following a comprehensive investigation, the department found that through the city’s “crime-free” housing program, the city discouraged and prevented tenants with mental health disabilities and those associated with them from using its emergency response service.



The violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act by the city of Anoka, Minnesota, was announced today by the Justice Department. It was determined through a thorough investigation that the city's "crime-free" housing program discouraged and hindered tenants with mental health disabilities and their associates from accessing emergency assistance.


Consequently, individuals with mental health disabilities, along with their families or service providers, refrained from seeking help to avoid jeopardizing their current or future housing opportunities.


“Using a so-called ‘crime-free’ housing ordinance to invoke fear and prevent people with mental health disabilities from exercising their right to access housing and seek emergency assistance is discriminatory and runs afoul of our nation's civil rights laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

“This scheme is cloaked as a public safety measure but in reality it callously targets people with disabilities and their loved ones by penalizing them simply for reaching out for emergency assistance in times of need. The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that every person, including those with disabilities, can access emergency services and enjoy access to fair housing without fear of retaliation.” The city's rental licensing and "crime free" housing ordinance allows for penalties to be imposed on landlords for "nuisance calls" to their properties, including disorderly conduct and repeated "unfounded" calls to the police. Failure to pursue eviction after such calls can result in fines and revocation of the landlord's license.


Unfortunately, this puts tenants with mental health disabilities and their associates at risk of eviction, fines, or loss of rental license when requesting or receiving emergency assistance.


In addition, the city has been sending weekly reports to licensed landlords detailing all emergency service calls from rental properties, which often include personal and sensitive information about the tenant's mental health disabilities. These reports are used to encourage landlords to evict tenants who may be deemed a potential nuisance.


The city was informed of the department's findings and the necessary remedial measures in a letter. Specifically, the department requested the city to make policy and procedure changes, appoint an ADA coordinator, and provide staff training. The case was investigated by the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota.


Individuals with relevant information regarding these findings are encouraged to contact the department via email at Anoka@usdoj.gov or by calling the toll-free number 888-473-3940. For additional information on the ADA, please visit ADA.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TTY 833-610-1264).




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