The one issue I have heard the most frequently from Camden Community members was easily “problem properties,” (most often) rental properties with chronic criminal activity on the premises, which lowers safety and livability of whole blocks.
While I frequently hear from both homeowners and renters impacted by this issue, I have seen how it has continued to put a significant strain on the relationship between homeowners and renters in our community due to increased negative perception of and frustration at renters.
Currently, the enforcement tool used to address problem properties is the Conduct on Premises ordinance (Code of Ordinances 244.2020). Not only has it been ineffective in addressing chronic criminal behavior in single-family homes, but research has found it has been misused to evict vulnerable, low-income renters, particularly Black women in North Minneapolis.
This ordinance was originally written in the early 1990s. It’s time for it to be updated to our current reality and needs. I am leading an overhaul of this legislation in collaboration with Housing Policy and Development Committee Chair Cam Gordon (Ward 2) and Vice Chair Jeremiah Ellison (Ward 5).
The goal is to ensure that individuals have a pathway out of crime and the criminal justice system and families can access resources so they can have the choice to course correct rather than “evictions first, don’t bother asking questions later.”
Like many of the toughest challenges we face in Camden, the issue of problem properties is inter-woven; making a change in one area can and usually does have an effect in other areas. It also requires me to see the entire picture, particularly the humans impacted by policy change.
I also frequently hear while out in the community is how Camden is a last-stop for many low-income families before homelessness. By clarifying the process to include evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies, in addition to what step-by-step enforcement of the ordinance looks like, the City of Minneapolis can mitigate harm caused to vulnerable folks, as well as connect individuals and families to much needed resources to break cycles of intergenerational poverty and violence.
The intent to introduce this work was already made at a full council meeting and the work was referred to the Housing Policy and Development Committee. The next steps will include creating a stakeholders group of all of the City Department’s that work on enforcing and supporting the work. The team will likely include the Minneapolis Police Department, Department of Health, Regulatory Services, Legal, and the Ward staff of the council offices. A staff direction will be given so that the internal City departments can research and provide recommendations based on what the scope of the work and final desired outcome will be.
As we work through this process, I will keep you updated on milestones and next steps. There will be a community advisory group for those interested in community voice shaping this legislation. Like the Ward 4 Facebook page @CMCunninghamWard4 to stay up-to-date!