There were many forms of redlining; for our project we are focusing on housing specifically. This process began with maps created by the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) and later the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that outlined “desirable” neighborhoods for banks to offer loans to and “hazardous” neighborhoods to avoid. Neighborhoods with a “D” or “hazardous” eating were shown in red on these maps, so they were referred to as redlined areas. The desirability of a neighborhood was often determined by the racial makeup rather than income levels or other financial factors. These maps were a tool for banks to discriminate against people of color and maintain racially segregated neighborhoods. This policy was officially in effect from the 1930s until it was outlawed by the Civil Rights Act in 1968, but its effects have been lasting. Affected neighborhoods lacked access to healthcare, retail, banking, and groceries. Also, since homeownership is one of the most significant ways to build wealth, redlining has contributed to a wealth gap between White and Black Americans that persists even today.
Redlining both reflected and reinforced segregation in many American cities, including Los Angeles. For our project, we wanted to explore whether houses in formerly redlined areas are any different than houses in other areas. Specifically, we wanted to see how current house values vary across Los Angeles according to the former redlining status of a neighborhood.
Redlining refers to the systematic discriminatory lending practices that led to disinvestment and restricted home ownership among African Americans and other racial minorities. This creates a vicious cycle of disparate, declining neighborhoods and further damage from denied economic opportunities.
Neighborhoods fell into a circle of decline: the inability to access capital lead to disrepair and the physical decline of a community’s housing stock, which in turn reinforced the redline designation.
First, we used Carto to create a digital map of the formerly redlined areas of LA County. This data is from the University of Richmond’s project “Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America.”
Then, using 5-year data from the 2013-2017 American Community Survey, we created the following map of median house value for each census tract in Los Angeles County. Darker colors represent higher median values.
There appears to be some similarities between the two maps. To explore this, we used the “intersect and aggregate” analysis on Carto to map the current median housing values onto the neighborhoods shown in the redlining map. This is shown in the following map..
As we see on this map, neighborhoods in former “D” grade areas have lower median house values, on average, than do other areas. This suggests that while official redlining has been outlawed, its effects persist today. The old, largely racist HOLC maps have left their spatial mark on the city.
Comparing Educational Attainment, Median Household Income, and Median Price Asked in Historical Districts vs. La County
To follow up these maps we wanted to examine the housing conditions and education demographics of both an A grade and D grade census tract, and how they stack have progressed, or not, in relation to the entire county. We used both ACS 5-year estimates from 2017, as well as SF1 10-year surveys from 2000.
Note on the lack of data seen in the the D-grade census tract, 6506.05, for all years available of the ACS survey, there was a 0 recorded for all price levels. This may be because no homes were sold, but there was a varying margin of error from year to year, equal for all price levels. We even checked surrounding census tracts to no avail.
Otherwise, ere we see, as expected, that the A Grade census tract has much higher numbers in all categories reflecting median income as well as the ratio of residents with a college degree. When comparing the D grade to LA county we were surprised to see that the median income was significantly higher in a previously D grade tract than the entire county. This tract has not seen a continued cycle of decline that has been experienced in other redlining areas, maybe in part because of the explosion of opportunity in Los Angeles, or the fact perhaps this census tract in particular has seen an increase in what was once called a “grade” and found a way to improve despite its historical classification.