Embattled St. Paul landlord is a social worker

A court has ruled Peggy Chun can’t manage two St. Paul apartment buildings. But is she qualified to be a social worker?

Until today, Chun was listed on the website of New Brighton-based Nystrom & Associates as “a social worker in the ARMHS [Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services] department with a background of working Serious and Persistent Mental Health diagnosis.”

Chun and her husband Randall own a pair of run-down buildings that house some 60 low-income families.

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One of the Chuns’ buildings. (MPR Photo/Jeff Thompson)

Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann ruled yesterday that he would appoint a receiver to take over managing the properties, which city inspectors have cited with about 600 housing code violations. The ruling was part of a foreclosure lawsuit against the Chuns.

Peggy Chun did not respond to an interview request. Neither did Nystrom & Associates, but Chun’s profile on the site disappeared today. Luckily I printed a copy earlier in the week.

Chun was listed as joining the private, Christian counseling firm in 2010. The page said she holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of St. Thomas.

One thing Chun doesn’t have is a license to practice social work in the state on Minnesota. She has applied for a license, but does not currently hold one, according to the Minnesota Board of Social Work.

In general, you can’t even call yourself a social worker in Minnesota, unless you have a license, although there’s an exception for social workers employed by government agencies.

Our NewsCut blog had a fascinating discussion yesterday about whether Chun’s husband Randall should be held to a higher standard because he works as a researcher for the Minnesota House of Representatives. But what are the ethics rules for social workers?

“Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice,”according to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics

Linda Jones, who teaches ethics at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work, says social workers are should hold themselves to those standards, even outside of their professional practice.

“It’s very hard to behave unethically in your business and turn around and behave ethically with people in your professional life,” Jones said.

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