The Boston Scope: Dorchester Food Co-op – a model for community ownership in a neighborhood “not for sale”

The Boston Scope, August 5, 2021, Dorchester Food Co-op – a model for community ownership in a neighborhood “not for sale”

At first glance, the Dorchester Food Co-op could be any other business in a wave of gentrification hitting the majority low-income, Black and Brown neighborhood of Dorchester in Boston. But co-op members offer a different backstory.

With its alternative structure and ideals, the co-op has secured its first brick-and-mortar location during a pivotal moment for Dorchester. According to a 2017 study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the neighborhood of Dorchester was in the lower 40th percentile of income and home value and therefore “eligible for gentrification.”

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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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