Back in 1968, redlining — or refusing to give loans to residents of certain neighborhoods, and a tool of discrimination against blacks — was outlawed by the Fair Housing Act. It was a landmark victory forÂ the Civil Rights movement, but itâ€™s not exactly ancient history. You still find the language from racially restrictive covenantsÂ (banned even earlier) in the deeds to homes. And, among the many harmful outcomes of segregation, itâ€™s worth considering how historic redlining affects residents of those neighborhoods today, researchers suggest in a recent study.
â€œThe legacy of redlining in the effect of foreclosures on Detroit residentsâ€™ self-rated health,â€ published by University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill researchers in the peer-reviewed journalÂ Health & Place, looks at the impact of the Great Recession and foreclosures on Detroitersâ€™ heath. They analyze how mortgage foreclosure rates changed by neighborhood after 2008 and surveys of how residents rated their own health, from excellent to poor. What they found wasnâ€™t exactly simple, and they noted a bunch of other factors (like urban renewal and other kinds of housing discrimination) that weren’t factored in to the data.
But the TL;DR is: in neighborhoods that were slower to recover from the Great Recession, residents were more likely to rate their own health as poor.
Other scholars have also found links between health problems and areas with high foreclosure rates after the financial crisis. This recent study, however, takes a more historical look, and overlaid redlining maps onto their foreclosure data. What they determined: “Redlining history was strongly associated with post-Recession foreclosure rate recovery and self-rated health.”
The authors warn not to take the research as a prescriptive or to view it in a vacuum. But they suggest that itâ€™s important for advocates and policymakers to take this type of history into account for more effective neighborhood health interventions — addressing foreclosure’s effects alone wonâ€™t solve the larger problems. They use the example of the cityâ€™s demolition program, which is dealing with the aftermath of foreclosures by clearing thousands of houses, but doesnâ€™t address health disparities (and in fact has some people concerned that it could cause health problems.)
Hereâ€™s their examples of a more holistic approach, taking historical discriminatory practices into account: â€œcommunity-driven identification of the lenders most likely to foreclose on individual home owners over the last two decades in Detroit,â€ and â€œlitigation to reclaim property and secure reparations related to unjust foreclosures. … Such interventions demonstrate understanding of the historical determinants of racial and socioeconomic differences in foreclosures, and begin to address the combined impacts of discriminatory practices and policies.â€
Get into the nitty gritty with the full article here. And then, revisit Ta-Nehisi Coatesâ€™ article â€œThe Case for Reparationsâ€ for a much more in-depth look at the contemporary consequences of redlining and other housing discrimination.