Black History Month: Housing Justice

Housing Justice Requires Racial Justice

Catholic Charities’ mission is to serve those most in need and advocate for justice in the community. As we advocate for justice, we must acknowledge our shared history that has led us to where we stand today. Here in the Twin Cities, that history includes structural racism that remains embedded in many of our systems—including those that most impact housing and homelessness.

Black Neighbors are Statistically More Likely to Experience Homelessness…

According to the most recent Wilder Foundation Minnesota Homeless Study, 37% of people experiencing homelessness identified as Black or African American. Black Minnesotans make up roughly 6% of the state’s population (U.S. Census), which shows that this demographic is significantly overrepresented amongst those experiencing homelessness.

At Catholic Charities, similar disparities are seen in the demographics of those receiving services through our programs.

…and are less likely to own their own home

Housing security does not necessarily require homeownership. However, owning a home remains one of the fastest and most stable ways of building generational wealth. The national gap between White and Black homeownership rates is wider now than it was in 1960, and Minnesota’s gap remains one of the worst in the country.

“Over the first two-decades of the twenty-first century, homeownership rates among African American households in Ramsey and Hennepin counties fell by more than 10 percentage points.

Jim Crow of the North

Twin Cities PBS premiered this documentary in 2019, which looks at “roots of racial disparities through a new lens and explores the origins of housing segregation in the Minneapolis area”:


Mapping Prejudice

Founded in 2016, Mapping Prejudice is a project based in the University of Minnesota Libraries that is working to identify and map racial covenants—clauses that were inserted into property deeds to keep people who were not White from buying or occupying homes.

“This work was born of community need in Minnesota, which has some of the largest racial disparities in the nation. These inequities are most pronounced in the area of housing, which is foundational to health and well-being. The Twin Cities has the highest gap between black and white homeownership rates for any major metropolitan area in the country. While 78 percent of White families own homes in the Twin Cities, only 25 percent of Black families are homeowners.” – Mapping Prejudice Team

The maps generated through this project “have helped to change popular understandings of structural racism in Minnesota, and the dataset has opened new avenues for researchers seeking to document the harm wrought by racist policies.”




1. Continue to learn about our shared history at upcoming events about Housing and Racial Justice:

Bridging the Faultlines: Stories of Racism, Resistance and Repair — Experience a preview of “Jim Crow of the North Stories,” a new series of documentary shorts from Twin Cities Public Television in a live event that features music, poetry, and food. This will set the table for community conversations meant to acknowledge racism, celebrate ongoing resistance, and move participants to repair harm. Monday, March 6, 2023 at 6:00 pm.

Locked Out: Concepts of Criminality & Housing Security in Our Community — Who gets confronted, who gets caught, and who is convicted all have cascading effects on livelihood, from finding an apartment to building generational wealth. Join Catholic Charities as we explore concepts of criminality, how they impact housing insecurity, and how we might shift the conversation to better untangle criminal justice and housing justice in our community. Thursday, March 30, 2023 at 11:30 am.

2. Sign up for our Action Alerts— the Minnesota Legislative session is moving fast, and we need community members like you to tell lawmakers that Housing Justice matters.

3. Volunteer with organizations working for Housing Justice in your community, like Mapping Prejudice or Catholic Charities.


It will take all of us to create a more fair and just community. We can’t all do everything, but we can all do something.

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