The HOLC used neighborhoods’ racial and ethnic makeup as one of its factors for determining where to help finance homes. The more people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized peoples in an area, the lower its overall score.
On the HOLC’s maps, the lowest-ranked neighborhoods were literally outlined in red.
Anyone who was not northern-European white was considered to be a detraction from the value of the area.
Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Over time, the inability for certain neighborhoods — particularly those populated mostly by people of color — to secure housing loans meant entire communities were effectively blocked from home-ownership, one of the key factors in building generational wealth.
The Fair Housing Act effectively ended the practice of redlining, making it illegal for sellers and landlords to discriminate based on race, among other factors.
The damage, however, had already been done.
It’s as if some of these places have been trapped in the past, locking neighborhoods into concentrated poverty.
Cavan Images/Cavan/Getty Images
Decades of stunted economic opportunities in formerly redlined areas ossified a host of poverty-related ills in 2021, including chronic health issues, increased risk of certain disease like COVID-19, poorer air quality, and even urban heat bubbles. Since redlining largely fell across racial lines, communities of color often bear the brunt of those issues today.
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Richmond have created a series of interactive maps to show how redlining corresponds with poverty-associated health issues in 140 communities today.