Minneapolis renters push for new protections for past felonies, bad credit

As a battle is underway, with the Minneapolis City Council considering a new ordinance that would provide more protections for renters, city residents shared stories Thursday of the difficulties some face finding an apartment with bad credit or a criminal record.

Finding a place to live in Minneapolis can be tough especially if you have a felony conviction. Brenda Marcos had a felony conviction for sex trafficking eighteen years ago but now says she has a job, she is a student and runs a non-profit. She says that’s still not enough.

"I live in a small little room that I rent for $750 a month because it’s all I could get," she explains. "And you know guys I worked hard to where I’m at now."

"Just because I have a criminal background and I served my time doesn’t mean I should be punished for the same crime again trying to come into society trying to find affordable housing," argued Chloe Jackson, renter.

Renters held a rally in support of a proposed ordinance that would bar landlords from denying applicants if a felony conviction was more than five years old and if a credit score is lower than five hundred. But property owners say it’s their responsibility to make sure the current tenants stay safe and that the applicant can actually pay the rent.

"When we look at a 500 credit score, which is what’s proposed in the ordinance, the credit score companies tell us that has a 71 percent likelihood of delinquency in the next 90 days," says Cecil Smith, a property owner.

But Smith does agree something needs to change to help those with challenges. He says there needs to be more innovation when it comes to transitional housing.

"There are opportunities in other cities called co-living environments,” he explains. “Where people have shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities. That’s actually becoming a very popular housing option. We don’t have that opportunity in Minneapolis."

But renters Thursday said that idea doesn’t help them get housing right now.

"Every person deserves housing, it doesn’t matter what, when, where, but every human person deserves housing."

The proposal likely won’t come up for a vote until late summer or early fall.