The city of Minneapolis signed on to the Just Deeds initiative March 3, creating a free pathway for homeowners to discharge racial covenants that still exist in the deeds to their homes.
Supporters say Just Deeds is an early step in broader discussions about the impacts of racial covenants, which are contracts created in the early 1900s that blocked people of color from owning a property. Seven cities in Hennepin County have decided to take part in the Just Deeds project, and 101 covenants have been discharged so far.
Mapping Prejudice, a University of Minnesota-affiliated group of historians, geographers and community members, partnered with Just Deeds to share its map of racial covenants in Hennepin County. More than 8,000 racial covenants were recorded in Minneapolis.
For homeowners, the process is free and fairly straightforward; they can see on the map if there is a racial covenant on their property and connect with attorneys through the Just Deeds website who help discharge the covenant for free.
Golden Valley city attorney Maria Cisneros, who spearheaded the initiative in 2020, said University students have also volunteered with the project to raise awareness about racism in housing and the lasting effects of these racist policies.
Racial covenants were made illegal with the 1968 Fair Housing Act, but Cisneros said “that was never enough to make the impacts of this go away.”