NCRC launches publishing series on Segregation, Environment and Health

National Findings Affirm Local Experiences

Last week, a team of researchers from NCRC, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Public Health and University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab produced a report with maps and data from 142 cities that showed how historic discrimination in lending and investing in entire neighborhoods correlates with shorter life expectancy today and higher rates of diseases that are risk factors for COVID-19.

While these national findings provide statistically significant context for what we are already hearing from the CDC about greater infection and mortality rates among people of color, we wanted to take a closer look at how exactly long-term and historic disinvestment in communities of color continues to create economic, social, environmental and health disparities, despite current laws and regulations that ban racial residential segregation. 

Today, we’re launching a popup publishing series to add that local context. Over the coming weeks we’ll publish essays from NCRC members and local leaders who can share their insights on segregation, environmental and health legacies in their communities. The series begins with Rita Harris in Memphis, Tennessee. She’s a longtime local environmental activist and a national board member of the Sierra Club.

“In Memphis, when I think of where all the major polluting manufacturing plants have been located, they are indisputably in or near an African American neighborhood. Some people have argued that these residents of Memphis don’t mind living near the railroad tracks or industrial plants. This argument doesn’t go very far if the question is asked, “Why were the African American neighborhoods near these places in the first place?” 

Rita Harris

Keep up with new posts in the series on the NCRC blog, get updates by email or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the rest of the series and all our news and alerts. 

Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

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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: