ACLU sues City of Faribault

Lawsuit claims housing discrimination and racial bias

Susie Jones
June 14, 2018 - 8:18 am

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the city of Faribault, alleging a local rental licensing ordinance aims to drive minorities out of town.

The lawsuit claims the ordinance is unconstitutional and violates the Fair Housing Act. "We know that in Minnesota people of color are more likely to have a criminal record, to have an arrest on their record,  so if you have a policy that prohibits renters with an arrest, it is discriminatory," said Teresa Nelson. who is Legal Director of the ACLU of Minnesota.

The ordinance also limits the number of family members who can live in a rental property."We know from census records that Somalis have larger families, and some of our clients came home with a new baby and found they were turned out of their homes because they were in violation of the occupancy limit," Nelson said.

The lawsuit alleges a city official said the ordinance was successful in getting rid of quote undesirable people."You know if the city's interest is in having safe communities and preventing crime, the last thing we should do it is turning people out of the homes and disrupting their families.  If you want to prevent crime, don't make people homeless." 

In a letter responding to the ACLU, the Faribault city attorney calls the agency's claims unfounded -- and that it's ordinance is in line with the Fair Housing Act, and is NOT discriminatory to Somali residents, or any other race.