PROTECTION

Asserting the  rights of tenants and breaking down barriers to access

Housing Justice is about the rights of people to have safe, stable, affordable places to call home in communities of all types. Where barriers exist that prevent people from accessing affordable housing, HJC works with our partners to break down barriers through legal advocacy and policy advocacy.

We do this by:

  • pursuing anti-displacement policies
  • engaging in fair housing impact litigation
  • researching the barrier to access and how to eliminate them
  • challenging illegal rent increases and other violations of federal programs

Mayor Carter has no authority over land use appeals, and his recent veto holds no power

On February 5, 2021, the St. Paul Planning Commission denied a site plan application by Alatus for an apartment development adjacent to the Lexington Station area. Pursuant to § 61.702(a) of the Zoning Code, Alatus appealed to the City Council. At its April 7, 2021 meeting, the Council adopted a resolution denying the appeal, and at its April 14 meeting adopted a resolution memorializing that decision. Before the April 14 Council meeting had ended, Mayor Carter purported, in a three-page document, to veto the April 14 action by the Council.

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HJC supports community call for equity and affordability at Lexington and University

The conversation around the two vacant lots at the intersection of Lexington Parkway and University Avenue is two years in the making, encapsulating the tension between community needs and developer priorities. Housing Justice Center works to protect and expand affordable housing, so a proposed development close to transit with no meaningful, substantiated commitment to affordability was a natural place for HJC to intervene. 

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HJC files class action tenant lawsuit to stop construction harassment in New Brighton

In April 2020, Housing Justice Center represented a group of New Brighton tenants, along with HOME Line, in filing a class-action lawsuit against QT Property Management (QT), its owner Jason Quilling and the City of New Brighton. HJC argued QT engaged in “construction harassment,” a tactic increasingly used by landlords to oust low-income renters by making living conditions unbearable, remodel the building, and bring in new tenants for much higher rents.

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Our Work in this Area

HJC files class action tenant lawsuit to stop construction harassment in New Brighton

HJC files class action tenant lawsuit to stop construction harassment in New Brighton

In April 2020, Housing Justice Center represented a group of New Brighton tenants, along with HOME Line, in filing a class-action lawsuit against QT Property Management (QT), its owner Jason Quilling and the City of New Brighton. HJC argued QT engaged in “construction harassment,” a tactic increasingly used by landlords to oust low-income renters by making living conditions unbearable, remodel the building, and bring in new tenants for much higher rents.

Opening the Door: Tenant Screening and Selection

When an apartment becomes available in the Twin Cities, who gets to move in? And perhaps more importantly, who doesn’t?

To answer those questions, we partnered with Family Housing Fund to publish a new report examining the methods and systems used by landlords to screen and select tenants. We found that the current methods and systems used are often unpredictable and can result in disparate treatment, the consequences of which extend beyond prospective tenants and their families to communities and society as a whole.

Reducing barriers to housing access

In the course of negotiating a settlement with a large property owner HJC was struck with the arbitrariness of the screening criteria being used. As we investigated further the range of screening standards used by many different landlords, several things became clear : as to the standards within those criteria (which criminal violations disqualify, what credit score is sufficient, what income level is adequate, etc) there is no recognized set of best practices, and those standards vary widely among landlords.

HJC contributes to Third Circuit Decision Upholding Tenant Protections

Across the country, many privately owned HUD-financed affordable apartment complexes include partial or 100% project-based Section 8 contracts which provide rent subsidies for the lowest income tenants. When those Section 8 contracts come up for renewal, owners have the opportunity to “opt out” or not renew the Section 8 contracts. In order to protect the low-income tenants from the loss of the project based subsidy, HUD will normally provide vouchers as a substitute, known as Tenant Protection Vouchers (TPVs) and Enhanced Vouchers.