Just Deeds Project
With guidance from the Just Deeds project, Richfield homeowners can now easily disavow and renounce the restrictive covenants found on their property records.
- To start, check the interactive map at Mapping Prejudice to see if your address shows a restrictive covenant.
- If a covenant is found on you property, submit an online Just Deeds Request Form. Richfield staffers will walk you through the process of discharging the racial covenant on your property. You will be connected to a volunteer expert who will help draft the documents necessary to acknowledge and disavow the restrictive covenant.
Show your support for this important work with an "Evict Racism" lawn sign, even if you don't have a covenant on your property. Pick up signs at the Community Development desk at City Hall. Suggested donation of $10 per sign, to the City's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
During the forming of the Twin Cities, discriminatory covenants were used to keep people of color from buying houses in certain Minnesota neighborhoods. The result is a century of segregated communities and huge disparities in wealth, health and well-being. Overall, Richfield is home to 3,714 of these covenants. Below, an example of a restrictive covenant:
On Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the Richfield City Council took action to support the work of the Just Deeds project. Richfield residents have the opportunity to acknowledge the historical discrimination caused by these covenants and to discharge them from their property records. Read the staff report here. Since April, over 140 property owners have signed up, and our volunteer lawyers have been working to remove the covenants. The whole process cane take up to several months.
During the post-WWII housing boom, many Richfield homes were constructed on the agricultural lands that used to make up Richfield. As these properties were subdivided for housing development, racial covenants were placed on the new parcels to segregate communities and restrict home ownership along racial and ethnic lines. For decades, this allowed white homeowners an opportunity to build wealth at the expense and the exclusion of the Black community and other Communities of Color.
As you can see in the map below, created by the Mapping Prejudice project, racial covenants were clustered in Richfield neighborhoods as they developed. While some areas of the community were not developed with racial covenants, they are still widely spread throughout the city.
- WATCH Jim Crow of the North: Minnesota Experience/PBS. This documentary charts the progression of racist policies and practices in Minnesota from the advent of restrictive covenants after the turn of the last century to their final elimination in the late 1960s.
- WATCH The Disturbing History of the Suburbs: Adam Ruins Everything. Comedian Adam Conover uses inventive storytelling that’s funny and serious at the same time to inform viewers of the hidden truths behind redlining in suburban housing.
- EXPLORE the interactive map at Mapping Prejudice. This project is based out of the Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota. They used Hennepin County records to create the first-ever comprehensive visualization of racial covenants for Hennepin County.
- READ The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein. This book explains how segregation and inequality in America is partially the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal levels.