NextCity: Mapping 80 years of segregation in U.S. cities

NextCity, March 29, 2018: Mapping 80 years of segregation in U.S. cities

It’s no secret that redlining shaped the economic and racial disparities on display in U.S. cities today. But the extent to which the notorious red “hazardous” zones — the source of the term “redlining” — depicted by Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) maps in the 1930s overlap with current neighborhood-level economic and racial data is still arresting. In fact, three out of four neighborhoods marked in red on the federal agency’s maps 80 years ago are still struggling economically, according to a new study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC).

In the words of Jason Richardson, Director of Research at NCRC: “It’s as if time stood still in some of these places, locking people into neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.”

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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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