Cities trying to block poor, disabled from moving to town

We give you, now, the NewsCut News Quote of the Day:

“It’s not a discriminatory thing, it’s an economic issue.”

It comes from South St. Paul City Council member Tom Seaberg in today’s Star Tribune, rationalizing the city’s… well, what should it be called? The city, along with West St. Paul, are attempting to close the door to people who receive state assistance for being both low-income and disabled, the newspaper says.

Those people call the cops too much and there is already enough rental housing for the poor and disabled, city officials say. Enough!

West St. Paul passed an ordinance in November prohibiting people who get government rental assistance and support services, a category the state calls “registered housing with services,” from living in the city’s apartments unless they’re already residing there.

People receiving assistance may be mentally ill, physically or mentally disabled or elderly. The services they get range from transportation and nursing care to help with cleaning or money management.

South St. Paul approved an ordinance last month allowing just one unit, or 5 percent of a multifamily building, whichever is greater, to be occupied by people receiving both rental help and support services.

In both cities, existing properties can retain current tenants who fall into that category, but they can’t add more.

Some Dakota County officials, and some housing experts, think the effort stretches legality.

The county says about five police calls a month go to the five apartment buildings on the registered housing list.

It expects someone will sue the cities over the ordinances.

  • It isn’t hard to divine the intent of Seaberg’s rationalization. No matter what he thinks, we are all in this together and cannot simply ignore those who are less fortunate.

    • Jim in RF

      Pretty transparent. These times…

  • >>The county says about five police calls a month go to the five apartment buildings on the registered housing list.<<

    Without given a baseline, I have no idea if this is a lot of calls or not.

    And yeah, taken at face value, these seem to be discriminatory actions…

  • Kassie

    While a renter would have to disclose they are using Section 8 or other rental help, I don’t see why they would have to disclose they are using supportive services. How would a landlord even know who to discriminate against to comply with this rule?

    And doesn’t it take away the right of the landlord to chose what kind of business it runs? Maybe the landlord finds “those people” are the exact types of residents they want in their building because they are guaranteed rent will be paid and that someone is watching out for their residents.

  • AL287

    Oh. Really?

    I guess they should ban assisted living facilities too because heaven knows those people are disabled and handicapped.

    Wait a minute. All of THOSE folks can pay the $3500-and-up monthly cost of these places so I guess they are the RIGHT sort of people. And they call for ambulances so that’s not nearly as disturbing to the neighbors.

    At my complex we have to call the police. It’s the policy of the management so there are no disputes about what actually happened. Of course, I’m one of those lucky people who don’t live in St. Paul. I don’t get a housing allowance so I guess I don’t fall into the category of “undesirables.”

    One call a month each. That’s really an avalanche of dispatches.

    Stretches legality? Give me a break. South St. Paul is well aware that it stretches legality. When someone files a discrimination lawsuit they will find out exactly how “stretched” their housing policy is.

    Just when I thought America couldn’t sink any lower.

  • TBH

    Sounds to be in violation of 42 US Code 3604(804)(d): “it shall be unlawful…..To represent to any person because of race, color, religion, sex,
    handicap, familial status, or national origin that any dwelling is not
    available for inspection, sale, or rental when such dwelling is in fact
    so available.” There are a couple of “exemptions” to the Fair Housing Act, but I don’t know if those exemptions are called out as applicable in the city ordinance.


    • This doesn’t seem like the type of thing this Justice Department is that interested in policing. I wonder if that factored into the cities’ decision?

      • TBH

        I would agree with that statement. However, the CFPB especially will investigate any and all complaints made through their platform and require a response from mortgage lenders. I will note that they have jurisdiction over mortgage lenders…….I don’t know that anyone but the Justice Department (as you allude to) has jurisdiction over an actual city government.

        Here is a recent example of CFPB/Justice Department joint action:

        Again – this is for a mortgage lender and not an actual city, I’m unsure of how a complaint against South St. Paul would be handled.

        It appears that complaints to the Fair Housing Act are to be directed to It seems that they will investigate all complaints and would require a response from South St. Paul. I don’t know how effective a complaint would be if the complainant did not suffer actual harm i.e. attempted to rent in the city and was told they are not eligible for the property because of city ordinance.

  • Ben

    Didn’t the US Supreme Court ruled on these restricted ordinances back in 2015 in which the disparity impact policies violated the Fair Housing Act of 1968? This sounds like blatant housing discrimination by the cities of West Saint Paul and South Saint Paul to utterly restrict the rights of the disabled and preventing them to move into their own community. I hope somebody in the disabled community sues the cities for violating the US Supreme Court decision on the existing Fair Housing Laws.

  • lindblomeagles

    “Those people call the cops too much.” Golly gee Tom, what are “those people” supposed to do, allow crime to flourish??? Speaking of the cops, aren’t the cops SUPPOSED TO respond to calls and safeguard citizens??? I know you, Tom, think cops should just write speeding tickets along Concord Street so that South Saint Paul can raise money without taxing residents, but “fundraising” is not why people go into law enforcement. And most residents resent speeding tickets. “You already have enough rental housing.” Well gee Tom, South Saint Paul is part of the metropolitan area. Your city isn’t in a rural farm field encompassing a town of 50 people.

  • Andy K.
  • AmiSchwab

    trumpiness everywhere. first off this must be illegal. second is making america great again mean turning social norms back to 1940? shame on these people.

  • Bose

    >> people who receive state assistance for being both low-income and disabled <<

    Here in Phoenix, those are the lucky ones, who have often progressed from being all of that and homeless.

    If it’s hard facing troubled, needy or mentally ill folks as neighbors, it gets harder when they are on the streets, panhandling for survival, or just lying down in an out-of-the-way spot, hoping not to be noticed for a couple of hours.