The Residual Effects of Redlining

How would you feel if you couldn’t buy a house in a certain area because of your race? Imagine going to buy a house and the seller is giving excuses and trying to talk up a house in a different neighborhood and later finding out that it was because of your skin color or religion.  Redlining is the refusal to give someone insurance or a loan because they live in an area that is labeled a financial risk. The use of redlining existed in the 1930’s and still exists in some cities today. Redlining was an issue in the 1930’s that peaked in the 1950’s that still has residual effects on towns and cities today such as racial segregation and diversity issues regarding economics.

Jim Crow created laws that enforced racial segregation in the South between 1877 and the 1950’s. The Jim Crow laws began almost right after the 13th Amendment was approved which freed four million slaves. After that, Black codes were created which essentially put them back into slavery. Newly freed African Americans needed to find a place to live and a place to work so what their old slave owners did was offer to give them supplies to build a house as long as they work for it. “These codes worked in conjunction with labor camps for the incarcerated, where prisoners were treated as slaves. Black offenders typically received longer sentences than their white equals, and because of the grueling work, often did not live out their entire sentence” (history.com). The Klu Klux Klan was a group of white supremacists  that targeted African Americans and violently attacked them, their schools, and their communities. This group also tortured and murdered countless families and fear of being next forced families off their land. Jim Crow laws still existed in the 20th century. After World War I, lynchings got so bad that someone was sent to investigate. As time progressed, lynchings got worse and so did race riots. As soldiers came home from serving in World War II, they often were met with violence. This continued racism has lasted and is still prevalent in the 21st century (history.com).

“Redlining refers to a discriminatory pattern of disinvestment and obstructive lending practices that act as an impediment to home ownership among African Americans and other people of color” (blackpast.org). This means that that banks and other government facilities can refuse or reduce the amount of loans given out to the homeowners that live in these neighborhoods. Because of Redlining, some of the neighborhoods that banks had considered unsuitable for their business to invest in were typically left unfinished or underdeveloped. Any effort to try and improve the neighborhoods were shot down by government institutions which gave the excuse that it was “too risky or simply rejected them outright” (blackpast.org). Businesses would fail and new businesses weren’t allowed to take their place which left entire areas of the neighborhood deserted. During the Depression, lower middle class families couldn’t afford to keep their homes. As a result, many families lost their homes but along came the Public Works Administration that created the first public housing unit. It was mostly made for white families but a few housing units were built for other races. The first suburban town created in the United States was Levittown. It was created by Bill Levitt who only sold houses to Caucasians and strictly exemplified African Americans from buying a house in his town. The racist propositions that Levittown had imprinted on all suburban areas influenced neighborhoods in the years following. Since almost all suburban towns are modelled and shaped after Levittown, the laws were also adopted to most towns which led to further racism.

The residual effects of redlining are still affecting some cities and neighborhoods today. Supposedly the government had outlawed redlining using the Fair Housing Act of 1968. “Case in point: This week the Department of Housing and Urban Development settled with the largest bank headquartered in Wisconsin over claims that it discriminated from 2008-2010 against black and Hispanic borrowers in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. The bank, Associated Bank, denies wrongdoing in the settlement, but HUD itself is declaring victory in “one of the largest redlining complaints ever brought by the federal government against a mortgage lender” (Washington Post). No matter how the banks act now, families are still being denied loans because of their relativity in the town. In the 1930’s the lines were drawn to separate the “good” parts of town from the “bad” parts. As a result, the area that was dictated “bad” was refused money to make the area any better and got progressively worse over time. Redlining “fed white flight and rising racial segregation” because none of the rich white families wanted to be stuck in a town that over half of the neighborhood was declining.

Redlining is the blatant refusal to give a family home or life insurance or a loan because of the neighborhood they live in. Some banks label these neighborhoods as a financial risk and sometimes refuse to give homeowners insurance. The use of redlining existed in the 1930’s and peaked in the 1950’s that caused discrimination issues and extreme segregation among towns. A part of El Dorado Hills called Lakehills still stated in their homeowner contracts that a buyer must be Caucasian to live there. Last year, Oak Ridge students had help from Mr. Hodgins joined together and created as well as signed a petition to get that section taken out of the paperwork. Open enrollment for schools should be considered a possibility for students everywhere. Students living in Sacramento should be allowed to enroll at Oak Ridge High School because of the better education given.

Article by Olivia Helbling & Video by May Graellos

Works Cited

Badger, Emily. “How Redlining’s Racist Effects Have Lasted for Decades.” New York Times, 24 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/upshot/how-redlinings-racist-effects-lasted-for-decades.html. Accessed 17 Apr. 2018.

—. “Redlining: Still a Thing.” Washington Post, 28 May 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/28/evidence-that-banks-still-deny-black-borrowers-just-as-they-did-50-years-ago/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ab60ee4788e3. Accessed 17 Apr. 2018.

Gaspaire, Brent. “Redlining.” BlackPast, www.blackpast.org/aah/redlining-1937. Accessed 17 Apr. 2018.

Nodjimbadem, Katie. “The Racial Segregation of American Cities Was Anything but Accidental.” Smithsonian Magazine, 30 May 2017, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-federal-government-intentionally-racially-segregated-american-cities-180963494/. Accessed 17 Apr. 2018.

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