Redlining is a term that refers to a discriminatory practice that has had a profound impact on America's history, particularly in its urban areas. The roots of redlining run deep within our society and can be traced back to the Great Depression when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) as part of the New Deal to help stabilize the housing market. With widespread mortgage defaults and foreclosures, the HOLC was authorized to issue new loans to eligible homeowners, allowing them to pay off their existing mortgages and obtain more manageable loan terms. These new loans were typically for a longer duration and carried lower interest rates, which made them more affordable. To determine eligibility for assistance, the HOLC created maps of cities across the United States, known as "residential security maps" or, "redlining maps." These maps were color-coded, and neighborhoods deemed more stable and low-risk were given favorable loan terms, while those considered higher risk were subject to less favorable terms or denied assistance altogether. These maps were also used by banks and other lending institutions to determine whether or not to provide loans to potential customers, thus excluding certain groups of people from accessing credit and other financial services. The neighborhoods excluded normally had a high concentration of African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups. The HOLC operated until 1951, during which it provided mortgage assistance to millions of homeowners thus playing a significant role in many of the inequities we still see today. This policy ultimately excluded these communities from the benefits of homeownership and had a devastating impact by perpetuating a cycle of poverty and disinvestment that has lasted for decades. 

 

 

In the following years, Civil Rights activists made continuous attempts to address the issue, paving the way for the passing of the Fair Housing Act in the 1960s. This act prohibited discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. However, redlining and other forms of housing discrimination continued to persist into the 20th century. It wasn't until 1994 that redlining began to receive widespread attention from the public when the federal government conducted a study that found evidence of ongoing discrimination in the mortgage market with African Americans and Hispanics being rated more likely to be denied mortgages than their counterparts. This discrepancy was pervasive throughout the study, even when controlling for factors such as income and creditworthiness. 

In 2015, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a rule that requires cities and towns to identify and address barriers to fair housing. This rule was designed to help communities overcome the legacy of redlining and other discriminatory practices but the effects had already had a profound impact on our country. While there have been efforts to address the issues, it is clear that the ripple effects that have cascaded through generations and time may be too big to overcome without swift all-encompassing action. 

With so much being done and so few results, it is easy to become fatigued by the issue at hand. On this historic day, we welcome you to continue to engage, reflect, and learn about our history. 

Happy Juneteenth! 

Written by Down Money Media

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