Discharging Racial Covenants
Discriminatory covenants were once used to keep people of color from buying houses in many Minnesota neighborhoods. The result was a century of segregated communities.
Mapping Prejudice identifies and maps racial covenants, clauses that were inserted into property deeds to keep people who were not white from buying or occupying homes. From our base in the University of Minnesota Libraries, our interdisciplinary team collaborates with community members to expose the history of structural racism and support the work of reparations.
Just Deeds provides free legal and title services to help property owners find racial covenants and discharge them from their property titles. The coalition also provides education opportunities to help communities acknowledge this racist history and pursue reconciliation and anti-racist solutions. Member organizations share responsibility of creating and correcting systemic racism in housing and acknowledging the racist systems that exist in communities.
On June 14, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted to join the Just Deeds coalition in an effort to highlight the importance of discharging and releasing historical racial covenants on property records. The action aligns with the county's plan to build a foundation for more inclusive communities and eliminate future disparities within the county.
The board of commissioners also approved an action to exempt residents from paying a recording fee in order to discharge a restrictive covenant, as stated in Minnesota Statute § 507.18, subd.5. The fee will be covered by the county, using sufficient county funds, to help property owners.
Residents can contact the Just Deeds project for assistance in finding if their property once contained a discriminatory covenant and receive free legal assistance on how to disavow the covenant.