Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Legacy of Redlining

Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal black homeowners were discriminated against through the creation of redlining maps. These maps identified areas with significant black populations and labeled them as too high risk for mortgage support. Black homeowners living in these areas were therefore very unlikely to be successful when trying to refinance home mortgages from the government sponsored Home Owners' Loan Corporation.

Wenfei Xu has released a new interactive mapping tool which allows you to compare the historical redlining maps side-by-side with modern day census data. The Redlining Map tool allows you to explore for yourself if the HOLC redlining maps have had a lasting impact on segregation in your city. Using the modern census data you can view the neighborhoods with a high percentage of black, white or Hispanic people and see if these areas correlate with areas which were deemed at risk or safe for lending purposes in the 1930's.

On the original Home Owners' Loan Corporation redlining maps the areas marked in blue were the neighborhoods deemed desirable for lending purposes. The yellow areas show the neighborhoods which were deemed 'declining' areas. The red areas were the neighborhoods considered the most risky for mortgage support. You can use Wenfei Xu's Redlining Map to see if the areas marked red in the 1930's redlining maps are areas which still have a large black population. You can also see if the blue or 'First Grade' areas are areas which still have a significantly large white population.

The HOLC map from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition also allows you to explore the lasting legacy of the HOLC's redlining maps. This interactive map allows you to compare modern data about income status and the minority population with the HOLC's historical redlining security ratings.

Using the HOLC map you can see if neighborhoods in your city with 'good' HOLC redlining ratings have remained largely white and wealthy or whether your city has become a beacon of social and racial equality. You can also use the National Community Reinvestment Coalition map to see where gentrification has occurred in a city. These are the neighborhoods which received the lowest HOLC redlining ratings but now don't have the stripes from the 'Low to Moderate Income' layer.

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