What is Redlining? – New York Times

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In recent years, the term “red line” has become an abbreviation for many types of historical race-based exclusion tactics in real estate – from racial control by real estate agents (directing black home buyers and tenants to certain areas or buildings and away from others) … to racial agreements in many suburbs and buildings (a ban on the purchase of homes by black residents). All of this contributed to the racial segregation that has shaped America today.

But what was actually the red line?

The origins of this term go back to government home ownership programs that were created as part of the New Deal of the 1930s. These programs offered homeowners government-insured mortgages, a form of federal assistance designed to stave off a massive wave of foreclosures following the Great Depression.

As these programs evolved, the government added parameters to assess and validate property and homeowners that would qualify. They used color-coded credit cards in more than 200 US cities.

Districts were ranked from least risky to most risky – or from “A” to “D.” IN The federal government identified ‘D’ areas as locations where property values ​​are likely to fall, and these areas have been marked in red – a sign that these areas do not merit inclusion in home ownership and credit programs. It is no coincidence that most of the “D” districts were neighborhoods inhabited by black residents.

Although the cards were internal documents that were never published by the federal government, the implications were obvious to black homeowners who could not get home loans backed by government insurance programs. The use of the term “red line” became more prevalent during the civil rights movement, especially in the era leading up to the Fair Housing Act 1968, which outlawed discrimination in housing, and the Housing Mortgage Disclosure Act 1975, which required exemption data on the loan.

In 1976, historian Kenneth T. Jackson discovered one of these St. Louis government maps. “When Jackson discovered this map, it was a smoking gun,” said Matthew Lasner, assistant professor of urban studies and planning at Hunter College. (Mr. Jackson says he discovered the map somewhat by accident while looking for other housing records.)

Mr Lasner says the areas allocated by the government have changed. In all senses – the age of the houses, the average cost of housing, the proximity to industrial areas – but usually they had one thing in common: Black people lived there. (“Integrated” areas where blacks lived with other racial groups were also marked with a “D” on these maps).

A racist theory of government, based on the popular pseudoscience of the era, was that the presence of any black population was a sign of an impending decline in property values. Soon enough, Mr. Lasner says, private lenders also began using government card lines, effectively depriving black home buyers of the right to secure mortgage loans from many major banks.

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