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Redlining: The American Dream, Destroyed​

You may have heard of the term redlining , but what does it mean? Who does it affect, and most importantly why should you care about it? The term redlining refers to any race-based exclusionary acts done in real estate. This started in the 1930's, when the government ranked neighborhoods on a scale of ”A”-“D”, with “D” being the least desirable and often the most “dangerous” neighborhoods, which is also where the most Black residents were likely to live  The government considered the “D” areas as not deserving of inclusion in homeownership, lending programs, and general investment. Thus Black individuals have been the most primarily affected in redlining areas, though other people of color have also experienced similar conditions.  In short, redlining can be viewed as the lasting effect of segregation in the United States today.

Here are some of the startling results of redlining today:

  • The average Black family would need 228 years to build the wealth of a white family today

  • Being born into a poorly graded neighborhood decreases a child’s annual earnings by $15,000 near age 30

  • In 2020, only 44% of Black people were homeowners, compared to three quarters of white home-owning households.

  • Black people who do own homes have the lowest median incomes of all races, and their homes are worth the least. 

  • The impacts of poor infrastructure development, pollution, and other associated consequences have continued to impact the livelihoods of people living in redlined areas.

  • Redlined neighborhoods have an increased climate burden due to factors such as:

    • busy highways

    • large expanses of cement, asphalt, and pavement absorb that trap heat

    • lack of widespread air conditioning in lower-income communities

Though redlining was deemed illegal in the 1968 Fair Housing Act, its effects still weigh in upon American citizens today. Some of these drastic effects include, but are not limited to: higher poverty/vacancy rates, risk of loan denials/subprime lending, and lower economic mobility/homeownership rates. Though these constraints are placed upon people of color more than white Americans, Black citizens feel the burdens of climate change in larger proportions than other races. Among many reasons, redlined areas are often urban heat islands that experience significantly higher temperatures than other areas. This causes residency to be unbearable or drives residents out.. The best way to advocate for these impoverished neighborhoods is by investing in these communities, as they still suffer from economic distress today. Although redlining is illegal, its effects have lasted for decades and will continue to. Taking action upon this issue is vital in combating our climate crisis and furthering human rights. 


Redlining Information:

  • Infographic information (Redlining; The American Dream Destroyed):


  • Infographic information (Redlining’s Climate Impact Today):

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