Redlining, what is it and why is it a healthy housing issue?
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The Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) was created in 1933 as part of the New Deal. HOLC created maps of cities labeling neighborhoods with colors as follows:
The hazardous neighborhoods were marked with red, thus the practice was called "redlining."
A neighborhood's label was determined by the number of Black or Immigrant families living in it.
In Brooklyn, HOLC used "Colored infiltration, a definitely adverse influence on neighborhood desirability" to describe a neighborhood labelled hazardous.
These maps were given to real estate agents and banks. They were used to determine which neighborhoods would be provided loans and resources for housing. Families in neighborhoods labeled "Best" could easily access loans and other housing services, while families in neighborhoods labeled “Hazardous” were unable to access housing resources.
In addition to being denied resources within the redlined neighborhoods, Black and Immigrant families were not allowed to purchase homes outside of redlined neighborhoods regardless of economic status, job, education level, etc.
Redlining was legalized housing discrimination.
Redlining was banned with the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968,
But it doesn't end there.
Among the impacts of redlining, the denial of resources left homes and families in redlined neighborhoods at high risk for healthy housing issues. Homes in redlined neighborhoods in East Omaha are more likely to face healthy housing issues such as lead contamination, high radon and other environmental hazards.
The first photo is the redlined map of Omaha. The second photo shows the map of the Omaha Lead Site, where high levels of lead are concentrated in the soil from the ASARCO plant.
In order to ensure healthy housing for all families, we must address the harmful effects of redlining and housing discrimination in our community. Policy change is a crucial step, but resource allocation and reinvestment in the community to ensure all community members are living in safe, healthy, affordable housing is crucial to ensure long lasting change.
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The work that we do has helped me realize how a team of a few dedicated people can really impact a community. Because of the work that we do every day, thousands of kids have homes that aren't poisoning them and bright futures centered in a healthy environment.
– Ian Sheets, Impact Coordinator