City Lab: This Is How Hard It Is to Invest in Black Neighborhoods

City Lab, May 13, 2020: This Is How Hard It Is to Invest in Black Neighborhoods

The following is an adapted excerpt from Andre Perry’s forthcoming book, “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.

In 2018, I took a walk through Birmingham, Alabama, with real estate developer Brian Rice. Earlier that year, Rice had purchased nine buildings on 19th Street in downtown Ensley, the largest of the 99 neighborhoods within Birmingham. He was planning to bring them and the commercial corridor they were once part of back to life.

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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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