The City of Minneapolis is pleased to offer the new Just Deeds Project. The initiative gives Minneapolis homeowners the chance to learn about and discharge the racial covenants recorded on their properties. It also allows homeowners to reclaim their homes as equitable spaces.
Racial covenants were documents recorded against a home's legal title which banned property owners from selling, renting, or allowing their home to be used by people of certain races. The discriminatory language was not always the same, but most covenants targeted Black people. Racial covenants were recorded on homes in Minneapolis by developers and homeowners starting in the 1910s. The use of racial covenants forced Black community members to live in racially segregated areas of the City. In these segregated areas, Black residents could not get mortgages, buy property, or build wealth.
Racial covenants were outlawed by 1968 and are no longer enforceable. Yet, Black people and other people of color in Minneapolis still experience the harm caused by these covenants. In 2010, Minneapolis’ population included 69% white residents and 19% Black residents. However, in the neighborhoods where racial covenants had been common, the population was still 73-90% white. Similarly, the neighborhoods to which Black residents moved during the years when racial covenants were used had present-day populations of 43-62% Black residents. Racially segregated neighborhoods generally have fewer parks and trees, more environmental hazards, poor access to supermarkets and medical care, and underfunded schools. In 2019, Minneapolis' Black homeownership rate of 25% was the lowest of any metro area in the nation. The Indigenous homeownership rate was 49%, the Hispanic homeownership rate was 50%, and the Asian homeownership rate was 60%. Meanwhile, the non-Hispanic white homeownership rate was 77%.
From 2016 to 2020, the Mapping Prejudice team at the University of Minnesota used technology and volunteers to review thousands of documents looking for racial covenants. They found over 8,000 racial covenants recorded against properties in the City of Minneapolis alone.