Legal Aid Speaks Out On Screening Inaccuracies Affecting Minneapolis Renters

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Luke Grundman, managing attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and other tenant advocates, have been working toward solutions to the affordable housing shortage in Minneapolis. They’re asking policymakers to overhaul the current tenant screening process, which frequently blocks low-income renters from finding an apartment. Inaccuracies about criminal records, credit history and evictions in a tenant’s screening report, for example, can mean the difference between getting an apartment or not. And fixing a mistake with one tenant screening agency doesn’t automatically resolve it with other agencies.

“It puts a lot of weight on the consumer or tenants to dispute reports, and a lot of tenants don’t have the time to do that,” Grundman said. “Their application has been denied and they’re waiting for this investigation to be conducted. … There’s no incentive for tenant screening organizations to get it right in the first place.” Read more in the Star Tribune.

LSAP Plays Central Role in Crafting Landmark Law to Protect Older and Vulnerable Adults

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After nearly two years of tireless work and advocacy, the Legal Services Advocacy Project (LSAP), along with other seniors’ advocates, state agencies, and assisted living providers, crafted landmark legislation that was enacted into law during the 2019 session.  It puts in place strong consumer protections against arbitrary discharges of, and retaliation against, older and vulnerable adults living in assisted living facilities.  It provides for appeals of discharges, and requires extensive planning to ensure necessary moves are conducted seamlessly and residents are transferred to safe and appropriate locations.  It dramatically expands public oversight of the state’s senior care industry by requiring that, beginning in August 2021, Minnesota’s assisted-living facilities must be licensed, as nursing homes currently are. 

"Minnesota is the only state that does not license assisted-living facilities," said Ron Elwood, supervising attorney of the Legal Services Advocacy Project, one of the leaders of a coalition of consumer groups that worked on the 168-page bill. 

The state Department of Health will now engage in an expedited rulemaking process that will add additional regulatory detail to the new comprehensive statute. Read more in the Star Tribune.

Historic MFIP Increase to Take Effect February 2020

Jessica Webster, Legal Services Advocacy Project

Jessica Webster, Legal Services Advocacy Project

For the first time in 33 years, Minnesota’s most vulnerable will see an increase in their Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) benefit. Minnesota was one of 3 states that hadn’t increased its cash assistance benefit to low-income families since 1986 (Oklahoma and Arizona being the others). The historic increase of $100 per month will take effect in February of next year, thanks in part to the long-standing efforts of Jessica Webster and the Legal Services Advocacy Project (LSAP), Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, other community advocates and bipartisan state legislators.

“Minnesota should reform the program with regular cost-of-living adjustments of 1 or 2% so another couple of decades do not pass without an increase,” said Webster, staff attorney with LSAP.

For more about how Minnesota got here and what is sought for the future, read the full article in the Star Tribune: Minnesota's neediest families to see first MFIP cash increase in 33 years.