Spotlight Report

No More Red Lines: Undoing Our Legacy of Urban Segregation

Although disparities between predominantly white and predominantly non-white neighborhoods go back hundreds of years, 20th-century government-sponsored discrimination was a key turning point in segregating our cities, creating the maps we have today. In fact, it all began with maps—maps released during the New Deal era by the Federal Housing Agency (FHA). They indicated which neighborhoods were appropriate for mortgages and which were not, and they overtly discriminated against black citizens by refusing to guarantee loans for homes in the “wrong” neighborhoods. The practice is called “redlining” because the black neighborhoods were delineated in red.

How did we get here? And what can we do to fix it? This report digs into the history of redlining and other unfair real estate practices, considers the effects these practices have had on communities, and offers some steps that building professionals can take to start to correct lingering injustices.

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