Thursday, October 6, 2016

From OffCite: Hazardous: The Redlining of Houston Neighborhoods

For our look at civil rights - and equal protection - in 2305, as well as municipal governments in 2306.

- Redlining "is the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic makeups of those areas."

The process has been argued to be the central reason racially segregated housing patterns persist in the United States - which also maintains de facto racial segregation in public schools despite Brown v Board.

- Click here for the article.

HOLC_Houston_Redlining_Map_Raj Mankad-QO1-283896191

Why are we so compelled to define neighborhoods as “good” or “bad”? Is there one definition of a “good” neighborhood — is it universal? Can a low-income neighborhood be a “good” neighborhood? I often wonder, and frequently challenge, whether these labels accurately depict a place and its people or whether they are self-fulfilling prophecy that makes it easy to invest or divest. The question comes more clearly into focus by understanding the history of neighborhood classification, of “good” and “bad” labels, and why they are too often directly associated with income and ethnicity.
A great deal has been written about “redlining,” which was the practice of denying loans to certain areas of cities based, in part, on race. Not surprisingly, areas that were redlined declined, property values slumped, and for many, the only option was to move. The practice of redlining was institutionalized with the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) Residential Security Maps, though many scholars argue that the maps simply reflected the predominant lending practices of the time — and projected them into the future. Regardless, it is very clear that the maps tell us one part of the story of what went wrong, and how.

Redlining map layered with 1940s census data on race. Courtesy Susan Rogers.

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