11 Alive: What is redlining, and how did it happen in Atlanta?

11 Alive, February 20, 2020: What is redlining, and how did it happen in Atlanta?

One of the most-discussed moments of the Las Vegas Democratic debate was when Sen. Elizabeth Warren critiqued former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg over his past comments on redlining.

In the debate, he was asked to address those comments, and he said it was “well on the record” that he’s against it.

“Redlining is still a practice in some places, we’ve got to cut it out,” Bloomberg said.

So just what is redlining, and how did it affect Atlanta?

“Neighborhoods considered high risk or ‘hazardous’ were often ‘redlined’ by lending institutions, denying them access to capital investment which could improve the housing and economic opportunity of residents,” is how the National Community Reinvestment Coalition describes the effects of redlining.

The University of Richmond in Virginia maintains a database of HOLC maps, and you can see Atlanta’s map on the school’s “Mapping Inequality” website.

Those maps listed the percentage of Black residents in each neighborhood. In all of the neighborhoods classified as “best” or “still desirable,” the population was 0%.

In the third classification, “definitely declining,” all but two tracts were 0%. The two that weren’t, were 5% and 1%.

And of the 32 classified as “hazardous,” 19 were composed of at least 10% black residents.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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