Minneapolis Association Apologizes for Past Discrimination, Vows Corrective Action

Promising to work harder for housing equity, the Minneapolis Area REALTORS®—which once supported racial covenants and denied membership to Blacks—issued a public apology for its historical role in perpetuating the homeownership gap in the Twin Cities. Now the association has a plan of action to help level the playing field.

The Minneapolis Area REALTORS® issued a public apology Wednesday for its past discriminatory practices, acknowledging that they resulted in unequal access to housing. Minneapolis has one of the widest racial gaps in homeownership in the country, and the association vowed to take four specific steps to remove future barriers to housing.

“Our apology and efforts to engage in policy change are overdue and are important steps for us because of the deep and lasting impact our actions have had on people of color in Minnesota, especially Black Minnesotans,” MAR president Denise Mazone said at a press conference Wednesday. “Not only do we regret the industry’s role in that but we also know we must do something to change that.”

The Black homeownership rate in Minnesota is more than 50% lower than that of Whites, according to MAR data. MAR CEO Carrie Chang said the association’s past policies, including supporting discriminatory property covenants and excluding Black members, helped to perpetuate housing inequality.

Better education for MAR members is part of the association’s goal to effect positive change in the future, said Jackie Berry, board director and chair of the association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “We clearly have not done enough to rid the real estate industry of the systemic issues that are preventing us from staying true to our commitment to fair housing for all,” Berry added. “As both a REALTOR® and a real estate instructor, I have seen firsthand the lack of awareness around the tremendous housing disparities we have today, and I strongly believe education is a crucial piece of the solution.”

MAR’s Board of Directors issued the following corrective policy changes, saying the association hopes to partner with other REALTOR® associations to spark greater change throughout the industry.

  • Update the association’s classes on the state’s purchase agreement forms to connect the removal of language regarding down payment sources to the issue of racial discrimination.
  • Educate all incoming members about racism in real estate and the association’s responsibility to reduce the racial gap in homeownership.
  • Expand MAR’s contributions to the state association’s Pathway to Achievement scholarship, which helps racial minorities chart their success in the real estate profession.
  • Support the adoption of a public policy for the development of a Federal Down Payment Assistance program for first-time and first-generation home buyers. 

MAR’s apology follows that of the National Association of REALTORS®, which acknowledged in 2020 that its past policies contributed to segregation and racial inequality in America. “We can’t go back to fix the mistakes of the past, but we can look at this problem squarely in the eye,” Charlie Oppler, NAR’s 2020 president, said at the time. “And, on behalf of our industry, we can say that what REALTORS® did was shameful, and we are sorry.”

NAR said its apology stemmed from the association’s initial opposition to the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 and a past policy denying membership based on race or sex. NAR has since implemented a number of policies, including a fair housing action plan encouraging REALTORS® to lead the fight against housing discrimination and an implicit bias training video to help real estate professionals better recognize prejudice.

Today, fair housing laws and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics ban discriminatory practices in housing based on race, sex and other protected classes.