October 19, 2017 10:39 PM
A class-action lawsuit, alleging housing discrimination by an apartment complex in Richfield, has been settled for $650,000.
The complex was formally known as "Crossroads at Penn." New management renamed the units when it took over in the fall of 2015.
The rental units, owned by MSP Crossroads and Soderberg Apartment Specialists, came under fire in 2015 when they announced they would no longer accept federal Section 8 housing vouchers.
The move forced dozens of residents out.
Housing advocates say it's a first-of-its-kind settlement in the nation. And it could set a new precedent for affordable housing fights.
U.S. District Court judge Ann Montgomery approved the preliminary settlement. The final settlement could be approved in January of 2018.
Former tenant Linda Soderstrom said the settlement is the culmination of more than two years of heartbreak and hard work.
"I think it's really welcome," Soderstrom said. "Now tenants who really wanted to put this behind them can move on."
The settlement will be divided between several entities and tenants who qualify for class status under law.
Eric Hauge, the public policy director for HOME Line in Minnesota, said the outcome of the lawsuit is a "symbolic measure."
"Treating folks this way - it's not what we do in Minnesota," Hauge said. "This was a very unique application of Fair Housing laws. We knew that the population of the apartment complex was mostly people of color and people of under-protected classes."
Jim Soderberg, president of Soderberg Apartment Specialists, sent a statement via email after the settlement announcement:
"In regard to the settlement of the class action lawsuit involving the Concierge property, MSP Crossroads and Soderberg Apartments Specialists deny that any of our conduct regarding the Concierge property violated the law, and stridently maintain our belief that we would have ultimately prevailed in the litigation.
"However, due to practical considerations, including the unique characteristics of this property, we believed that a resolution was appropriate."
Updated: October 19, 2017 10:39 PM
Created: October 19, 2017 08:51 PM
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