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A 1936 HOLC "residential security" map of Philadelphia, classifying various neighborhoods by estimated riskiness of mortgage loans.[1]

In the United States and Canada, redlining is the systematic denial of various services by federal government agencies, local governments, or the private sector either directly or through the selective raising of prices. This often manifested by placing strict criteria on certain goods that often disadvantaged poor and minority communities.[2][3] Prior to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, there were no specific laws that protected minority populations from discriminatory practices such as redlining. Businesses were therefore able to exploit these groups in order to increase their profits.[4] Redlining was utilized in the housing industry by mortgage companies to suppress minority populations from receiving home loans. This directly contributed to the spatial isolation of minority communities as they were denied a loan to move out of the neighborhood, while also being denied the funds to improve their current homes.[5]

Neighborhoods with a high proportion of minority residents are more likely to be redlined than other neighborhoods with similar household incomes, housing age and type, and other determinants of risk, but different racial composition.[6] A prime example of redlining occurred in Detroit, Michigan following World War II. Maps of Detroit during this time period clearly show that black neighborhoods were segregated from other white or wealthier communities. As the city was quickly erupting into an industrial and automotive empire, some black resident wanted to move out of their crowded inner city neighborhoods. These homes were often in disrepair and would require extensive and expensive restoration. Without a home loan, they were financially unable to leave. [7]

While the best known examples of redlining involved denial of financial services such as banking or insurance,[8] access to other services such as health care (see also Race and health) or even supermarkets[9] have been denied to residents. Retail businesses such as supermarkets purposefully locate stores impractically far away from targeted residents, resulting in a redlining effect.[10] Reverse redlining occurs when a lender or insurer targets minority consumers in a non-redlined area in order to charge them more than they would charge other white customers.[11][12]

In the 1960s, sociologist John McKnight coined the term "redlining" to define the discriminatory practice of avoiding investment in communities with unfavorable or high-risk demographics, typically with large minority populations.[13][page needed] During the heyday of redlining, the areas most frequently discriminated against were black inner city neighborhoods. For example, in Atlanta in the 1980s, a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles by investigative reporter Bill Dedman showed that banks would often lend to lower-income whites, but they would refuse loans to middle-income or upper-income blacks.[14] Perpetrators of redlining utilized blacklists as a mechanism to keep track of groups, areas, and people that the discriminating party feels should be denied business, aid or other transactions. In the academic literature, redlining falls under the broader category of credit rationing.


Racial segregation and discrimination against minority populations predated the specific process termed "redlining" in the United States that began with the National Housing Act of 1934 and the concurrent establishment the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).[15][page needed][16] The implementation of this federal policy accelerated the decay and isolation of minority inner-city neighborhoods through withholding of mortgage capital, making it even more difficult for neighborhoods to attract and retain families able to purchase homes.[17][page needed] The discriminatory assumptions in redlining exacerbated residential racial segregation and urban decay in the United States.

In 1935, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) asked the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) to look at 239 cities and create "residential security maps" to indicate the level of security for real-estate investments in each surveyed city. On the maps, the newest areas—those considered desirable for lending purposes—were outlined in green and known as "Type A". These were typically affluent suburbs on the outskirts of cities. "Type B" neighborhoods, outlined in blue, were considered "Still Desirable", whereas older "Type C" were labeled "Declining" and outlined in yellow. "Type D" neighborhoods were outlined in red and were considered the most risky for mortgage support. These neighborhoods tended to be the older districts in the center of cities; often they were also black neighborhoods.[15][page needed] Urban planning historians theorize that the maps were used by private and public entities for years afterward to deny loans to people in black communities.[15][page needed] But, recent research has indicated that the HOLC did not redline in its own lending activities and that the racist language reflected the bias of the private sector and experts hired to conduct the appraisals.[18][19][20]

Some redlined maps were also created by private organizations, such as J. M. Brewer's 1934 map of Philadelphia. Private organizations created maps designed to meet the requirements of the Federal Housing Administration's underwriting manual. The lenders had to consider FHA standards if they wanted to receive FHA insurance for their loans. FHA appraisal manuals instructed banks to steer clear of areas with "inharmonious racial groups", and recommended that municipalities enact racially restrictive zoning ordinances.[21][22]

Following a National Housing Conference in 1973, a group of Chicago community organizations led by The Northwest Community Organization (NCO) formed National People's Action (NPA), to broaden the fight against disinvestment and mortgage redlining in neighborhoods all over the country. This organization, led by Chicago housewife Gale Cincotta and Shel Trapp, a professional community organizer, targeted The Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the governing authority over federally chartered Savings & Loan institutions (S&L) that held at that time the bulk of the country's home mortgages. NPA embarked on an effort to build a national coalition of urban community organizations to pass a national disclosure regulation or law to require banks to reveal their lending patterns.[23]

For many years, urban community organizations had battled neighborhood decay by attacking blockbusting, forcing landlords to maintain properties, and requiring cities to board up and tear down abandoned properties. These actions addressed the short-term issues of neighborhood decline. Neighborhood leaders began to learn that these issues and conditions were symptoms of a disinvestment that was the true, though hidden, underlying cause of these problems. They changed their strategy as more data was gathered.[24]

With the help of NPA, a coalition of loosely affiliated community organizations began to form. At the Third Annual Housing Conference held in Chicago in 1974, eight hundred delegates representing 25 states and 35 cities attended. The strategy focused on the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB), which oversaw S&Ls in cities all over the country.

In 1974, Chicago's Metropolitan Area Housing Association (MAHA), made up of representatives of local organizations, succeeded in having the Illinois State Legislature pass laws mandating disclosure and outlawing redlining. In Massachusetts, organizers allied with NPA confronted a unique situation. Over 90% of home mortgages were held by state-chartered savings banks. A Jamaica Plain neighborhood organization pushed the disinvestment issue into the statewide gubernatorial race. The Jamaica Plain Banking & Mortgage Committee and its citywide affiliate, The Boston Anti-redlining Coalition (BARC), won a commitment from Democratic candidate Michael S. Dukakis to order statewide disclosure through the Massachusetts State Banking Commission. After Dukakis was elected, his new Banking Commissioner ordered banks to disclose mortgage-lending patterns by ZIP code. The suspected redlining was revealed.[25] A former community organizer, Richard W. "Rick" Wise who led the Boston organizing, has published a novel, Redlined, which gives a somewhat fictionalized account of the anti-redlining campaign.[26]

NPA and its affiliates achieved disclosure of lending practices with the passage of The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975. The required transparency and review of loan practices began to change lending practices. NPA began to work on reinvestment in areas that had been neglected. Their support helped gain passage in 1977 of the Community Reinvestment Act.


Court system[edit]

In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that Associated Bank had agreed to a $200 million settlement over redlining in Chicago and Milwaukee. The three-year HUD observation led to the complaint that the bank purposely rejected mortgage applications from black and Latino applicants.[27] The final settlement required AB to open branches in non-white neighborhoods, just like HSBC.[28]

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement with Evans Bank for $825,000 on September 10, 2015. An investigation had uncovered the erasure of black neighborhoods from mortgage lending maps.[29] According to Schneiderman, of the over 1,100 mortgage applications the bank received between 2009 and 2012, only four were from African Americans.[30] Following this investigation, The Buffalo News reported that more banks could be investigated for the same reasons in the near future. The most notable examples of such DOJ and HUD settlements have focused heavily on community banks in large metropolitan areas, but banks in other regions have been the subject of such orders as well, including First United Security Bank in Thomasville, Alabama, and Community State Bank in Saginaw, Michigan.[31]

The United States Department of Justice announced a $33 million settlement with Hudson City Savings Bank, which services New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, on September 24, 2015.[32] The six-year DOJ investigation had proven that the company was intentionally avoiding granting mortgages to Latinos and African Americans and purposely avoided expanding into minority-majority communities. The Justice Department called it the "largest residential mortgage redlining settlement in its history."[33] As a part of the settlement agreement, HCSB was forced to open branches in non-white communities. As U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman explained to Emily Badger for The Washington Post, "[i]f you lived in a majority-black or Hispanic neighborhood and you wanted to apply for a mortgage, Hudson City Savings Bank was not the place to go." The enforcement agencies cited additional evidence of discrimination in Hudson City's broker selection practices, noting that the bank received 80 percent of its mortgage applications from mortgage brokers but that the brokers with whom the bank worked were not located in majority African-American and Hispanic areas.[34]

Legislative action[edit]

In the United States, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed to fight the practice. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, "The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale of a dwelling because of race or national origin. The Act also makes it unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction, because of race or national origin."[35] The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity was tasked with administering and enforcing this law. Anyone who suspects that their neighborhood has been redlined is able to file a housing discrimination complaint.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a United States law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), enacted 28 October 1974,[1] that makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract);[2] to the fact that all or part of the applicant's income derives from a public assistance program; or to the fact that the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The law applies to any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly participates in a credit decision,[3] including banks, retailers, bankcard companies, finance companies, and credit unions.

The part of the law that defines its authority and scope is known as Regulation B,[4] from the (b) that appears in Title 12 part 1002's official identifier: 12 C.F.R. § 1002.1(b) (2017).[5] Failure to comply with Regulation B can subject a financial institution to civil liability for actual and punitive damages in individual or class actions. Liability for punitive damages can be as much as $10,000 in individual actions and the lesser of $500,000 or 1% of the creditor's net worth in class actions.[6]

The Community Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress in 1977 required banks to apply the same lending criteria in all communities.[36]

Community organizations[edit]

ShoreBank, a community-development bank in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood, was a part of the private-sector fight against redlining.[37] Founded in 1973, ShoreBank sought to combat racist lending practices in Chicago's African-American communities by providing financial services, especially mortgage loans, to local residents.[38] In a 1992 speech, then-Presidential candidate Bill Clinton called ShoreBank "the most important bank in America."[37] On August 20, 2010, the bank was declared insolvent, closed by regulators and most of its assets were acquired by Urban Partnership Bank.

In the mid-1970s, community organizations, under the banner of the NPA, worked to fight against redlining in South Austin, Illinois. One of these organizations was SACCC (South Austin Coalition Community Council), formed to restore South Austin's neighborhood and to fight against financial institutions accused of propagating redlining. This got the attention of insurance regulators in the Illinois Department of Insurance, as well as federal officers enforcing anti-racial discrimination laws.[39]

Current issues[edit]

Racial segregation in American cities[edit]

The United States Federal Government has enacted legislation since the 1970s to reduce the segregation of American cities. While many cities have reduced the amount of segregated neighborhoods, some still have clearly defined racial boundaries. Since 1990, the City of Chicago has been one of the most persistently racially segregated cities, despite efforts to improve mobility and reduce barriers. Other cities like Detroit, Houston, and Atlanta likewise have very pronounced black and white neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods that were originally redlined by financial institutions decades ago.[40] While other cities have made progress, this continued racial segregation has contributed to reduced economic mobility for millions of people.

Race wealth gap[edit]

The practice of redlining actively helped to create what is now known as the Racial Wealth Gap seen in the United States.[41]

Black families in America earned just $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. For every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.[42] In 2016, the median wealth for black and Hispanic families was $17,600 and $20,700, respectively, compared with white families' median wealth of $171,000.[41] The black-white wealth gap has not recovered from the Great Recession. In 2007, immediately before the Great Recession, the median wealth of blacks was nearly 14 percent that of whites. Although black wealth increased at a faster rate than white wealth in 2016, blacks still owned less than 10 percent of whites' wealth at the median.[41]

A multigenerational study of people from five race groups analyzed upward mobility trends in American Cities.[43] The study concluded that black men who grew up in racially segregated neighborhoods were substantially less likely to gain upward economic mobility, finding "black children born to parents in the bottom household income quintile have a 2.5% chance of rising to the top quintile of household income, compared with 10.6% for whites." Because of this intergenerational poverty, black households are "stuck in place" and are unable to grow wealth.

A 2017 study by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economists found that the practice of redlining—the practice whereby banks discriminated against the inhabitants of certain neighborhoods—had a persistent adverse impact on the neighborhoods, with redlining affecting homeownership rates, home values and credit scores in 2010.[44][45] Since many African-Americans could not access conventional home loans, they had to turn to predatory lenders (who charged high interest rates).[45] Due to lower home ownership rates, slumlords were able to rent out apartments that would otherwise be owned.[45]


Brick and mortar[edit]

Retail redlining is a spatially discriminatory practice among retailers. Taxicab services and delivery food may not serve certain areas, based on their ethnic-minority composition and assumptions about business (and perceived crime), rather than data and economic criteria, such as the potential profitability of operating in those areas. Consequently, consumers in these areas are vulnerable to prices set by fewer retailers. They may be exploited by retailers who charge higher prices and/or offer them inferior goods. Critics, however, argue that if such practices were causing retailers to avoid doing business in otherwise profitable areas (due to the racial demographics of these locations), retailers who avoided this practice and continued to do business in these areas would be at an economic advantage over their competition. Therefore, by choosing not to service a potentially profitable area, retailers would be lowering the quantity supplied of their good or service to below the market equilibrium quantity. This would allow any businesses that stayed in the area to make an economic profit. The presence of economic profits for retailers in that area would create a strong market incentive for new firms to move into this area. Because of these economic incentives, critics argue that the businesses discriminating based on race when choosing their customers were doing so for economic reasons in order to maximize their profits. If these businesses were avoiding potentially profitable areas, new businesses would quickly take advantage of the resulting presence of economic profits and decreased competition in the area.[46]


A 2012 study by The Wall Street Journal found that Staples, The Home Depot, Rosetta Stone and some other online retailers displayed different prices to customers in different locations (distinct from shipping prices). Staples based discounts on proximity to competitors like OfficeMax and Office Depot. This generally resulted in higher prices for customers in more rural areas, who were on average less wealthy than customers seeing lower prices.[47][48][49]


Some service providers target low-income neighborhoods for nuisance sales. When those services are believed to have adverse effects on a community, they may considered to be a form of "reverse redlining". The term "liquorlining" is sometimes used to describe high densities of liquor stores in low income and/or minority communities relative to surrounding areas. High densities of liquor stores are associated with crime and public health issues, which may in turn drive away supermarkets, grocery stores, and other retail outlets, contributing to low levels of economic development.[50] Controlled for income, nonwhites face higher concentrations of liquor stores than do whites.[51]

Financial services[edit]

Student loans[edit]

In December 2007, a class action lawsuit was brought against student loan lending giant Sallie Mae in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. The class alleged that Sallie Mae discriminated against African American and Hispanic private student loan applicants.[52]

The case alleged that the factors Sallie Mae used to underwrite private student loans caused a disparate impact on students attending schools with higher minority populations. The suit also alleged that Sallie Mae failed to properly disclose loan terms to private student loan borrowers.

The lawsuit was settled in 2011. The terms of the settlement included Sallie Mae agreeing to make a $500,000 donation to the United Negro College Fund and the attorneys for the plaintiffs receiving $1.8 million in attorneys' fees.[53][54]

Credit cards[edit]

Credit card redlining is a spatially discriminatory practice among credit card issuers, of providing different amounts of credit to different areas, based on their ethnic-minority composition, rather than on economic criteria, such as the potential profitability of operating in those areas.[55] Scholars assess certain policies, such as credit card issuers reducing credit lines of individuals with a record of purchases at retailers frequented by so-called "high-risk" customers, to be akin to redlining.[55]


Much of the economic impacts we find as a result of redlining and the banking system directly impacts that of the African American / Black Community. Beginning in the 1960s, there was a large influx of Black Veterans and their families moving into suburban White communities. As Blacks moved in, Whites moved out and the market value of these homes dropped dramatically. In observation of said market values, bank lenders were able to keep close track by literally drawing red lines around the neighborhoods on a map. These lines signified areas that they would not invest in. By way of racial redlining, not only banks but savings and loans, insurance companies, grocery chains, and even pizza delivery companies thwarts economic vitality in black communities.[56] The severe lacking in civil rights laws in combination with the economic impact led to the passing of the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977.

Racial and economic redlining sets the people who lived in these communities up for failure from the start. So much that banks would often deny people who came from these areas bank loans or offered them at stricter repayment rates. As a result, there was a very low rate at which people (in particular Blacks / African Americans) were able to own their homes; opening the door for slum landlords (who could get approved for low interest loans in those communities) to take over and do as they saw fit.[57]


Gregory D. Squires wrote in 2003 that data showed that race continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.[58] Racial profiling or redlining has a long history in the property-insurance industry in the United States. From a review of industry underwriting and marketing materials, court documents, and research by government agencies, industry and community groups, and academics, it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.[58] Home-insurance agents may try to assess the ethnicity of a potential customer just by telephone, affecting what services they offer to inquiries about purchasing a home insurance policy. This type of discrimination is called linguistic profiling.[59] There have also been concerns raised about redlining in the automotive insurance industry.[60] Reviews of insurance scores based on credit are shown to have unequal results by ethnic group. The Ohio Department of Insurance in the early 21st century allows insurance providers to use maps and collection of demographic data by ZIP code in determining insurance rates. The FHEO Director of Investigations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sara Pratt, wrote:

Like other forms of discrimination, the history of insurance redlining began in conscious, overt racial discrimination practiced openly and with significant community support in communities throughout the country. There was documented overt discrimination in practices relating to residential housing—from the appraisal manuals which established an articulated "policy" of preferences based on race, religion and national origin. to lending practices which only made loans available in certain parts of town or to certain borrowers, to the decision-making process in loans and insurance which allowed the insertion of discriminatory assessments into final decisions about either.[61]


Reverse redlining occurs when a lender or insurer particularly targets minority consumers, not to deny them loans or insurance, but to charge them more than would be charged to a similarly situated white consumer, specifically marketing the most expensive and onerous loan products. These communities had largely been ignored by most lenders just a couple of decades earlier. In the 2000s some financial institutions considered black communities as suitable for subprime mortgages. Wells Fargo partnered with churches in black communities, where the pastor would deliver "wealth building" seminars in their sermons, and the bank would make a donation to the church in return for every new mortgage application. Working-class blacks wanted a part of the nation's home-owning trend. Instead of contributing to homeownership and community progress, predatory lending practices through reverse redlining stripped the equity homeowners struggled to build and drained the wealth of those communities for the enrichment of financial firms. The growth of subprime lending (higher cost loans to borrowers with flaws on their credit records) prior to the 2008 financial crisis, coupled with growing law enforcement activity in those areas, clearly showed a surge in a range of manipulative practices. Not all subprime loans were predatory, but virtually all predatory loans were subprime. Some subprime loans certainly benefit high-risk borrowers who would not qualify for conventional, prime loans. Predatory loans, however, charge unreasonably higher rates and fees by compared to the risk, trapping homeowners in unaffordable debt and often costing them their homes and life savings.[11][12]

A survey of two districts of similar incomes, one being largely white and the other largely black, found that bank branches in the black community offered largely subprime loans and almost no prime loans. Studies found out that high-income blacks were almost twice as likely to end up with subprime home-purchase mortgages as did low-income whites. Some loan officers referred to blacks as "mud people" and to subprime lending as "ghetto loans."[11][12][62] A lower savings rate and a distrust of banks, stemming from a legacy of redlining, may help explain why there are fewer branches in minority neighborhoods. In the early 21st century, brokers and telemarketers actively pushed subprime mortgages. A majority of the loans were refinance transactions, allowing homeowners to take cash out of their appreciating property or pay off credit card and other debt.[63]

Redlining has helped preserve segregated living patterns for blacks and whites in the United States, as discrimination is often contingent on the racial composition of neighborhoods and the race of the applicant. Lending institutions such as Wells Fargo have been shown to treat black mortgage applicants differently when they are buying homes in white neighborhoods than when buying homes in black neighborhoods.[11][12][64]

Dan Immergluck writes that in 2002 small businesses in black neighborhoods received fewer loans, even after accounting for business density, business size, industrial mix, neighborhood income, and the credit quality of local businesses.[65]

Several state attorneys general have begun investigating these practices, which may violate fair lending laws. The NAACP filed a class-action lawsuit charging systematic racial discrimination by more than a dozen banks.

Environmental racism[edit]

Policies related to redlining and urban decay can also act as a form of environmental racism, which in turn affect public health. Urban minority communities may face environmental racism in the form of parks that are smaller, less accessible and of poorer quality than those in more affluent or white areas in some cities.[66] This may have an indirect effect on health, since young people have fewer places to play, and adults have fewer opportunities for exercise.[66]

Robert Wallace writes that the pattern of the AIDS outbreak during the 80s was affected by the outcomes of a program of "planned shrinkage" directed at African-American and Hispanic communities. It was implemented through systematic denial of municipal services, particularly fire protection resources, essential to maintain urban levels of population density and ensure community stability.[67] Institutionalized racism affects general health care as well as the quality of AIDS health intervention and services in minority communities. The over-representation of minorities in various disease categories, including AIDS, is partially related to environmental racism. The national response to the AIDS epidemic in minority communities was slow during the 80s and 90s, showing an insensitivity to ethnic diversity in prevention efforts and AIDS health services.[68]


Workers living in American inner cities have more difficulty finding jobs than suburban workers do.[69]

Digital redlining[edit]

Digital redlining is a term used to refer to the practice of creating and perpetuating inequities between racial, cultural, and class groups specifically through the use of digital technologies, digital content, and the internet.[70][71] Digital redlining is an extension of the historical housing discrimination practice of redlining to include an ability to discriminate against vulnerable classes of society using algorithms, connected digital technologies, and big data.[72][73] This extension of the term tends to include both geographically based and non-geographically based discrimination. For example, in March 2019 the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Facebook with housing discrimination over the company's targeted advertising practices.[74] While these charges included geographically based targeting in the form of a tool that allowed advertisers to draw a red line on a map; they also included non-geographically based methods that did not use maps but rather utilized algorithmic targeting using Facebook's user profile information to directly exclude specific groups of people. A press release from HUD on March 28, 2019 stated that HUD was charging that "Facebook enabled advertisers to exclude people whom Facebook classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility; interested in Hispanic culture; or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes."[74]

Political redlining[edit]

Political redlining is the process of restricting the supply of political information with assumptions about demographics and present or past opinions.[75] It occurs when political campaign managers delimit which population is less likely to vote and design information campaigns only with likely voters in mind. It can also occur when politicians, lobbyists, or political campaign managers identify which communities to actively discourage from voting through voter suppression campaigns.[76][77]

Redlining and Health Inequality[edit]

Health inequality in the United States of America persists today as a direct result of the effects of Redlining. Health in America is synonymous with Wealth. Wealth affords the privilege of living in a neighborhood or community with clean air, clean water, outdoor spaces and places for recreation and exercise, with safe streets during the day and night, with infrastructure that supports the further growth of wealth (good schools, access to healthy food, transportation [roads, sidewalks, buses, subways]), opportunities to connect, belong, contribute, live purposefully, and the stability of a home (free of lead, free of leaks, with proper plumbing, and a working HVAC system to protect from fluctuations of heat/cold). Wealth buys all of those things.[78][79][80][81][82]

Redlining intentionally excluded Black Americans from accumulating wealth. The effects of this exclusion continue to play out daily, generations later, in the same communities. Without wealth there is no health. We see this today in the disproportionate effects that COVID-19 has had on the same exact communities which the HOLC redlined in the 1930s. Research published in September 2020 overlays maps of the highly effected COVID-19 areas with the HOLC maps. It's a match but not a surprise.[83][84][85][86][87][88]

After years of de jure redlining, Americans have a solid system of structural racism blocking the achievement of progress toward health equity for all Americans. As a result, we are stuck with a de facto health narrative that does not inspire belonging, does not compel us to political participation, and does not dictate strategic change towards the social justice model for health equity. If we are going to eliminate health inequality in America, we need a new de facto health narrative dictating our strategy. The delusion that de jure redlining is not a large part of the foundation on which structural racism is based will continue until it is shattered by the vibrations of a new de facto health narrative and by the strike of a new SCOTUS decision that fully backs Section 1 and 2 of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Rothstein 215-217).[89]

Democracy In America by de Tocqueville includes an analysis and warning by way of naming the American conditions of freedom, “Individualism”.[90] In 1985, a group of social scientists wrote Habits of the Heart, Individualism and Commitment in American Life, where they state “We are concerned that this individualism may have grown cancerous – that it may be destroying those social integuments that Tocqueville saw as moderating its more destructive potentialities, that it may be threatening the survival of freedom itself. We want to know what individualism in American looks and feels like, and how the world appears in its light.” (Bellah, vii).[91] Habits of the Heart beautifully explains the benefits and costs of our American individualism and brings to light how our individualism plays into the Market Justice Model (Beauchamp, 1975).[80] The de facto health narrative playing in our hearts and minds since the 1970s rests on our individualism. It is what ruffles people's feathers in just the right spot so that they don’t wear a mask in a pandemic, despite knowing logically that wearing a mask is a simple, cost effective, expedient solution. American individualism is the loner mythic, the cowboy who succeeds despite his hardships, for the benefit of the little guy, and does it all alone, it’s the respect we have for those who have achieved the American Dream, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, against all odds, and made a fortune. This narrative is false, especially where it intersects with health equity. In her book The Good Citizen, The Markers of Privilege in America, Dr. Joann Myers reminds us of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement, “Socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor” (160) and argues that we have created two groups, good citizens and not good citizens. Good citizens are healthy; they make healthy choices and are responsible with things like family planning. The opposite goes for those in the not good citizen group. These groups, maintained by structural racism, perpetuate health inequality and feed the current de facto health narrative, which Dr. King summarized as rugged individualism for the poor. In her recommendations for working toward equality, Dr. Myers states, “The key is to realize that we all belong, we the people all have a stake in this expanding multipolyglot of a democracy. We need to work to ensure all have the equal opportunity to be good citizens and to be part of the whole.” (157).[85]

The Blueprint For Belonging B4B Program of the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California – Berkely has started a solid discussion around the needs for a new de facto health narrative and the need to make the new health narrative structural in order to eliminate health inequality in America (Powell and Livingston).[92][93]

Strategies to reverse effects of redlining[edit]

Redlining has contributed to the long term decline of low-income, inner city neighborhoods and the continuation of ethnic minority enclaves. Compared to prospering ethnic minority areas, historically redlined or other struggling black communities need targeted investments in infrastructure and services in order to prosper.[94]

Some of these strategies include:

  • Targeting planning resources to improve employment, incomes, wealth, the built environment, and social services in struggling communities.
  • Recognize the importance of public transportation as a means for low-income communities to access jobs and services.
  • Provide jobs near the labor supply through targeted economic development.
  • Invest in the housing stock through neighborhood revitalization programs.
  • Utilize inclusionary zoning (IZ) ordinances to improve amounts of high quality housing.
  • Equitably distribute hazardous waste sites so they are not concentrated in low-income and minority areas.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The HOLC maps are part of the records of the FHLBB (RG195) at the National Archives II Archived 2016-10-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Gross, Terry. "A 'Forgotten History' of How the U.S. Government Segregated America". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  3. ^ Harris, Richard; Forrester, Doris (2 July 2016). "The Suburban Origins of Redlining: A Canadian Case Study, 1935–54". Urban Studies. 40 (13): 2661–2686. doi:10.1080/0042098032000146830. S2CID 154651681.
  4. ^ Hillier, Amy E. (1 May 2003). "Redlining and the Home Owners' Loan Corporation". Journal of Urban History. 29 (4): 394–420. doi:10.1177/0096144203029004002. ISSN 0096-1442. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  5. ^ Sugrue, Thomas J. Origins of the urban crisis : race and inequality in postwar Detroit. New Jersey. ISBN 9780691162553.
  6. ^ Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. p. 560. ISBN 9780415252256.
  7. ^ Sugrue, Thomas J., 1962-. Origins of the urban crisis : race and inequality in postwar Detroit. New Jersey. ISBN 978-1-4008-5121-8. OCLC 878919151.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Zenou, Yves; Boccard, Nicolas (September 2000). "Racial Discrimination and Redlining in Cities". Journal of Urban Economics. 48 (2): 260–285. doi:10.1006/juec.1999.2166. S2CID 13944269.
  9. ^ Eisenhauer, Elizabeth (2001). "In poor health: Supermarket redlining and urban nutrition". GeoJournal. 53 (2): 125–133. doi:10.1023/A:1015772503007. S2CID 151164815.
  10. ^ How East New York Became a Ghetto by Walter Thabit. ISBN 0-8147-8267-1. Page 42.
  11. ^ a b c d Ehrenreich, Barbara; Muhammad, Dedrick (September 13, 2009). "The Recession's Racial Divide". The New York Times.
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