A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against MSP Crossroads Apartments, LLC and its managing agent, Soderberg Apartment Specialists (SAS), claiming the companies are discriminating against low-income and disabled tenants of their recently acquired apartment complex. Crossroads at Penn Apartments, located in Richfield, Minnesota, is one of few affordable housing options in the area, according to the suit. The defendants have allegedly purchased the complex, renamed it “Concierge Apartments,” and begun a renovation project that markets to “young professionals” by installing luxuries such as granite countertops, a pet spa, and a golf simulator.
According to the suit, “Crossroads has been home to…a group of largely low income households, with disproportionate percentages of disabled residents, and Latino and other minority residents, as well as significant numbers of tenants using rent vouchers through the Minnesota Group Residential Home (GRH) Program and the Housing Choice Voucher Program.” The defendants have discouraged these tenants from continuing to live at the apartment complex by raising the rent as much as 31% and employing a new screening process that most of them would fail, the complaint says. The complex now requires that residents maintain an unusually high minimum income and credit score, “despite the fact that plaintiffs have generally had a positive rent payment history at Crossroads,” the suit argues.
Many Crossroads residents will be forced, or have already been forced, to move because they can no longer afford to live there or do not qualify under the new requirements, the suit alleges. The Mayor of Richfield estimated that 267 families may be forced to find new housing and could possibly become homeless due to a lack of affordable housing in the area, according to the complaint.
Counsel for the plaintiffs allegedly suggested to the defendants an alternate proposal that would allow them to accomplish their plans “in a less discriminatory way, through financial incentives,” but their ideas were apparently rejected.
The suit argues that the defendants have violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against what they perceive as “undesirable” residents and seeking to house an entirely new tenant population.