Vulnerable adult forced from group home under controversial city ordinance

December 14, 2018 06:16 PM

A recovering addict living in St. Louis Park was kicked out of his group home for violating a controversial city ordinance.

The ordinance was the focus of a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation that found police are ordering landlords to evict people who aren't convicted, charged or even accused of a crime.

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The investigation also prompted criticism of the ordinance. City leaders in St. Louis Park are now considering passing a moratorium that would stop police from enforcing the law while the city studies its impacts.

RELATED: Evicted before convicted: St. Louis Park police order landlords to force people from their homes

Charlie Metz is a vulnerable adult, who was seeking treatment for chemical dependency, according to his father, Matthew.

According to court records, Charlie punched a fellow client at the group home. The police were called, but Charlie was not arrested.

"I didn't think anything was going to come of it," Charlie said during an interview.

Matthew Metz said Charlie went into rehab right after the incident. That's when they learned that Charlie had been charged with assault and was losing his housing.

"Halfway through treatment, he learned that he was being evicted from his home," Matthew said.

St. Louis Park police ordered Charlie's landlord to "immediately terminate the lease," because he had violated the crime-free/drug-free ordinance. Even though the notice was eventually rescinded, Matthew said it was too late for Charlie because he had already lost his home before he was ever charged with a crime.

RELATED: 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation has St. Louis Park considering moratorium on crime-free, drug-free ordinance

"I was actually so angry," Matthew said. "How can you evict somebody who hasn't been convicted of anything?"

Matthew decided to speak out about what happened to his son after watching the investigation into how this ordinance is being used in St. Louis Park.

City records show from 2013 to 2018, more than 150 people were forced from their homes, even though they were never convicted or charged with a crime.

"I was just flabbergasted that so many people were impacted by exactly the same, the same ordinance," Matthew said. "I'm not sure what public good comes of that."

RELATED: Housing attorney says 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation exposes 'troubling' evictions

Charlie landed on his feet and ended up in another group home in the Twin Cities, but he said while he was in in-patient therapy, he lost hope.

"Honestly, I thought about leaving treatment," Charlie said. "I found out I couldn't go back to St. Louis Park and I was like, 'Oh well, I might as well just leave now.' I mean, I'm not going to have a spot to go to anyways."

Both Matthew and Charlie say the ordinance needs to change.

"It seems like it's a one-size-fits-all approach," Matthew said.

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Kirsten Swanson

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