This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Kathryn Lezlie Babcock,
BBY Chestnut Limited Partnership, et al.,
Filed July 29, 2003
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 0117160
Kathryn Lezlie Babcock, 15318 Trillium Circle, Eden Prairie, MN 55344 (pro se appellant)
Neil Polstein, Esq., Bale Anderson Polstein Randall & Hill, Ltd., #1800, 527 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Kathryn Babcock’s landlord refused to participate in the Section 8 housing subsidy program, and Babcock sued for damages under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. She also alleged common law and federal statutory claims. The district court granted the landlord’s and the property owner’s motions for summary judgment, and Babcock appeals. Because the undisputed facts do not establish a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and because Babcock has not identified any error in the district court’s summary judgment on the remaining claims, we affirm.
F A C T S
D E C I S I O N
The complaint alleges three separate claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). Babcock first alleges that a landlord’s refusal to participate in the Section 8 voucher program constitutes a per se violation of the MHRA’s prohibition of discrimination based on receipt of public assistance. The MHRA provides that it is an unfair discriminatory practice
(1) [f]or an owner * * * or managing agent of, or other person having the right to sell, rent or lease any real property, or any agent of any of these:
(a) to refuse to sell, rent, or lease or otherwise deny to or withhold from any person or group of persons any real property because of * * * status with regard to public assistance * * * .
Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 2 (2002).
The act defines “status with regard to public assistance” to mean “the condition of being a recipient of federal, state or local assistance, including medical assistance, or of being a tenant receiving federal, state or local subsidies, including rental assistance or rent supplements.” Minn. Stat. § 363.01, subd. 42 (2002). Babcock’s claims are based on her construction of that provision and the prohibition in section 363.03. Statutory construction is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. Brookfield Trade Ctr., Inc. v. County of Ramsey, 584 N.W.2d 390, 393 (Minn. 1998).
To contend that a refusal to participate in the Section 8 program constitutes a per se violation of section 363.03 is to disregard the importance of the landlord’s intent under the statute. In its plain terms, the statute requires a showing of both a refusal to rent and a failure to do so “because of [the prospective tenant’s] status with regard to public assistance.” Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 2 (emphasis added). As the district court observed, a landlord might choose not to participate in the Section 8 program for non-discriminatory reasons, such as an unwillingness to bear the cost of satisfying the administrative requirements of the program.
The goal of affordable housing could be significantly advanced if all landlords were willing to participate in the Section 8 program. But the legislature recognized the administrative burdens of the Section 8 program—and, implicitly, its voluntary nature—by adopting a statute that provides tax incentives to landlords who make a minimum percentage of units in an apartment building available to Section 8 voucher holders. See Minn. Stat. § 273.126 (2002). Because participation in the Section 8 program is voluntary, a landlord’s refusal is not a per se violation of section 363.03, subd. 2.
In her second MHRA claim, Babcock contends that a landlord’s refusal to participate in the Section 8 program constitutes an unfair discriminatory practice because nonparticipation disparately impacts women and female-headed households. But the MHRA recognizes “disparate impact” discrimination only with respect to discrimination in employment. See Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 11 (2002) (establishing burdens of proof in cases in which plaintiff alleges an employment practice is responsible for a statistically significant adverse impact on a particular class of persons protected by the MHRA’s employment provisions). Thus the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Babcock’s disparate-impact claim.
Babcock’s third MHRA claim is that Belgarde committed an unfair discriminatory practice under the act when it sent Babcock a letter stating that Belgarde would not participate in the Section 8 program. Babcock based the claim on section 363.03, subd. 2(1)(c) of the act, which establishes that a “record or inquiry in connection with [a] prospective * * * rental * * * which expresses * * * any limitation, specification, or discrimination as to * * * status with regard to public assistance” constitutes unfair discriminatory practice. Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 2(1)(c) (2002). Because we conclude that non-participation in the Section 8 program does not alone constitute an unfair discriminatory practice, a letter stating a landlord’s intention not to participate does not constitute an unfair discriminatory practice under the “record or inquiry” provisions of section 363.01, subdivision 2(1)(c).
Babcock fails to identify any specific error in the district court’s rulings on her remaining claims. We are unable to address issues that are not briefed or adequately identified in the text of the brief. In re Application of Olson, 648 N.W.2d 226, 228 (Minn. 2002).