Spectrum News 1: Redlined Areas Have Worse Health And More COVID-19 Risk, Study Finds

Spectrum News 1, December 18, Redlined Areas Have Worse Health And More COVID-19 Risk, Study Finds

Today, neighborhoods across the country are still feeling the consequences of redlining, which often relied on racial profiling to judge investment risk. And, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that decades-old red ink may be a matter of life and death, according to a recent study.

report from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which included work from Wisconsin researchers, found that across the U.S., census tracts with a history of redlining were tied to worse health outcomes for residents.

“Tracts that were subject to greater redlining had higher poverty, greater social vulnerability, were more likely to be majority minority tracts,” says Helen Meier, an assistant professor of epidemiology at UW-Milwaukee who worked on the study. “We also saw associations between greater redlining and higher prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes, COPD, and asthma.”

The findings were concerning on their own, Meier says. But they’re even more striking with the continuing threat of COVID-19, a disease that tends to hit harder when people have underlying conditions.


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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

Complete the form to download the full report: