In U.S. Cities, The Health Effects Of Past Housing Discrimination Are Plain To See

The lingering harms of racist lending policies known as redlining are apparent today. Researchers created a set of interactive maps allowing you to explore the current impacts in your city.

Enlarge this image

Torey Edmonds lived all of her life in the house that her father built in the East End of Church Hill in Richmond, Va. Over the years she says she has witnessed the detrimental effects of redlining on her neighborhood and community.

Max Posner for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Max Posner for NPR

Loading…

But it’s not just Edmonds’ neighborhood. In city after city across the U.S., from Milwaukee to Miami, researchers have found a disturbing pattern: People who live in neighborhoods that were once subjected to a discriminatory lending practice called redlining are today more likely to experience shorter life spans – sometimes, as much as 20 or 30 years shorter than other neighborhoods in the same city.

Researchers from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the University of Richmond and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee analyzed historic redlining maps from 142 urban areas across the U.S. — these maps, created in the 1930s, classified Black and immigrant communities as risky places to make home loans. They compared the maps to the current economic status and health outcomes in those neighborhoods today and found higher rates of poverty, shorter life spans and higher rates of chronic diseases including asthma, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and kidney disease.

These once-redlined neighborhoods are also more likely to have greater social vulnerability, meaning they’re less able to withstand natural and human disasters because of their more limited resources.

The researchers published interactive versions of these city-by-city maps online for the public to explore their own communities. If your neighborhood was mapped back in the 1930s, these graphics allow you to see how it ranked back then and how it fares today.

Enlarge this image

Researchers from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the University of Richmond and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee analyzed historic redlining maps from urban areas across the U.S., including Richmond, Va.

Max Posner for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Max Posner for NPR

Enlarge this image

A federal government map of Richmond in the 1930’s outlined neighborhoods considered risky (red) for mortgage lenders to offer loans to.

University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab


hide caption

toggle caption

University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab

Enlarge this image

Redlining made it difficult, if not impossible, for communities of color and immigrants to buy or refinance. A lack of investment meant houses fell into disrepair.

Max Posner for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Max Posner for NPR

Loading…

The findings come as no surprise to Edmonds. «Trust me, I know,» she says.

The average life expectancy in her neighborhood is just 68 years. That’s 21 years less than in a well-off predominantly white community a few miles away in the West End of Richmond — a community that got the highest rating on those government redlining maps back in the 1930s. At one point in the pandemic, Edmonds’ zip code — 23223 — also had the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Richmond.

Dr. Lisa Cooper, a health disparities researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was not involved in the research. She says that people often think of health as the result of individual choices. But she says the redlining study’s findings show how health is also a result of a lack of choices baked into the very fabric of American cities by racist policies made long ago.

«If you just happened to be born in that neighborhood, who’s to say you wouldn’t be in the same predicament?» Cooper says.

Cooper notes that there’s a large body of research linking residential segregation to negative health effects. It’s less about who your neighbors are than about the concentration of disadvantage.»

Structural racism, illustrated

Redlining played a major role in shaping the demographics of modern American urban areas, says Robert Nelson, a historian at the University of Richmond who focuses on urban housing policy and race. And the racism underlying those redlining decisions is undeniable, he says. He’s a co-author of the study on redlining and modern health outcomes.

Enlarge this image

Once-redlined neighborhoods are more likely to have greater social vulnerability, meaning they’re less able to withstand natural and human disasters because of their more limited resources.

Max Posner for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Max Posner for NPR

Enlarge this image

The average life expectancy for the formerly redlined Fairfield neighborhood in Richmond is around 68 years old. Several studies have found links between redlined communities and health outcomes today.

Max Posner for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Max Posner for NPR

The average life expectancy for the formerly redlined Fairfield neighborhood in Richmond is around 68 years old. Several studies have found links between redlined communities and health outcomes today.

Max Posner for NPR

Krieger, who was not involved in the study from NCRC and its partner universities, says its findings are important because they offer the first nationwide look at the links between redlining and a range of public health outcomes. They also emphasize the ways in which racist policies of the past have ongoing ramifications.

«History never really says goodbye,» Krieger says, quoting the Uruguyan writer Eduardo Galeano. «History says, see you later.»

  • health inequities
  • race and health
  • redlining

admin

Добавить комментарий