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U of M study offers deep-dive on evictions in north Minneapolis

Single black women are statistically the most evicted demographic in the Twin Cities, the majority of which come from two ZIP codes — 55411 and 55412 — in north Minneapolis. Minnesota has the fastest eviction rates in the country, via laws making it easy for a landlord to evict a tenant with just 14 days notice.

Those were but a few of the crucial findings of “The Illusion Of Choice: Evictions and Profit in North Minneapolis,” an extensive research project conducted by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University Of Minnesota.

The partial results of the project were presented Thursday evening in a conference room at the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) in the heart of north Minneapolis, which was packed out with a standing-room-only audience of teachers, students, social workers, mental health workers, and housing activists.


“North Minneapolis is a community manufactured to contain undesirable populations through housing discrimination, decades of urban disinvestment, unfair lending practices, and disproportionate evictions,” said Dr. Brittany Lewis, of the deep dive into a housing system “that wasn’t built for black and brown skin” that she and her colleagues conducted over the last few years. “The situation has become further exacerbated by the rise in distressed-property investment. Single black women with children living below the poverty line lead more than 60 percent of the black households in north Minneapolis.”

The research, partial findings, data, and recommendations for change can be found here:

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
An eviction notice and a “Home Sweet Home” doormat greeted attendees of “The Illusion Of Choice" event and the opening of CURA artist-in-residence Nikki McComb’s eviction-themed exhibit “The Moving Walls of Minneapolis” Thursday at UROC in north Minneapolis.
A presentation about the study was made in conjunction with the opening of photographer Nikki McComb’s, “The Moving Walls of Minneapolis,” and an art project created by students from Juxtaposition Arts in collaboration with the CURA evictions research team. MinnPost took in the presentation and opening, in interviews and photos:  

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Dr. Brittany Lewis delivers a presentation on her research to a standing-room-only crowd at UROC in north Minneapolis.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
“The stories of the tenants always stay with me,” said Dr. Lewis. “When we’re talking about displacement or eviction or gentrification, we’re talking about a physical process, not how it impacts the human. Eviction is more about mental health, destabilized family structures, lack of income, job loss, trauma that goes unhealed. People are the walking wounded, trying to navigate crisis decisions every day, often determined by the choices that are available to them, and not the best choices out there. And I feel like when we’re having these conversations, we aren’t talking about the human.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Juxtaposition Arts students engaged in research in collaboration with the CURA evictions research team and created a game, “The Social Service Run Around.”

“Are you experienced with homelessness or housing instability?” said student Taisia Cleveland (second from right). “Or discrimination or red-lining or gentrification? Well, you’re going to understand more about what everybody goes through, because the game is directed to people who haven’t been through it.”


MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
“It was really unlivable situations that people were living in, that I was taking photographs of,” said CURA artist-in-residence Nikki McComb at the opening of her eviction-themed exhibit “The Moving Walls of Minneapolis.”

“They were not being taken care of. There are people living in these conditions, and they’re real, and they’re evicted for reasons they may not have any control over. As Dr. Lewis said, it affects primarily black women and mothers. It’s a very important issue, and it’s becoming really terrible for mothers in north Minneapolis. My daughter is actually one of those people who have experienced this, and so I have some experience with it. I had to do this.”


MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
From Nikki McComb’s eviction-themed exhibit, “The Moving Walls of Minneapolis,” which runs at UROC through August 3rd.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
From Nikki McComb’s eviction-themed exhibit, “The Moving Walls of Minneapolis,” which runs at UROC through August 3rd.

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