Salon: COVID-19 Is Speeding Up White Flight: Now Is The Time To Invest In Affordable Housing

Salon, October 30, 2020, COVID-19 Is Speeding Up White Flight: Now Is The Time To Invest In Affordable Housing

The COVID-19 pandemic has ultimately closed a large portion of the economy down, and the systemic inequalities already affecting the Black and Latinx communities in the US are getting hit even harder. The pandemic has been found to speed up the process of the displacement of colored people already taking place. COVID-19 will further erode the fragile local economies already suffering from decades of divestment, segregation and displacement.

Systemic inequities have particularly crippled Black and Latinx communities’ ability to weather this economic downturn. Decades of disinvestment, segregation and displacement have resulted in deep racial wealth divides between communities of color and their white counterparts. In cities struggling to provide affordable housing, COVID-19 could speed up displacement of communities of color. In areas where disinvestment has plagued communities of color for decades, COVID-19 will further erode the already fragile local economies. Nothing short of both public policy and private investments will ensure these communities aren’t insurmountably set back by COVID-19.The pandemic has triggered the start of what might become a new round of “white flight” in some of the highest cost cities. Highways in the 1950s and 1960s allowed white families to flee integrated cities for new suburbs. Following white families’ departures, public and private investments in the cities faltered. Today, the agent of change is not the interstate highway system, but technological changes and a growing frustration with overcrowding and commuting. The pandemic has greased the wheels of a train that was already leaving the station. While companies and workers are rethinking the necessity of expensive office space, employees are reconsidering the need to live in some of the most expensive housing in the country.

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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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