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The lasting impact of 'redlining' on communities of color

Posted at 7:37 AM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 10:37:19-04

As the push for social justice and equality marches on, the housing market is one area where there continues to be a major gap between communities.

The housing market is strong right now, surviving remarkably well and better than expected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Right now, the market is pretty hot," said Patricia Garcia Duarte, President and CEO of Trellis, a non-profit aimed at guiding low-income and minority families into sustainable homeownership.

"Buying a home is a very stressful process, and we want to make sure that people do it the right way," she said.

But Duarte points out there is a still a significant disparity in homeownership between communities of color and their White counterparts.

In fact, in a recent study conducted by Redfin, it shows the disparity in Phoenix in the first quarter of 2020, of just 33% Black homeownership compared to 70% White homeownership. This is one of the largest margins for major cities.

So why such a large gap? Duarte says systemic practices of the past are still impacting minority communities today.

"It was actually intentional policies set by government that didn't allow African Americans to get a mortgage," she said. That includes policies like redlining.

"Redlining was really created in the years right after the second world war, when soldiers came home and they had access to the G.I. Bill," said ASU professor Rashad Shabazz.

He says the government created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide low-interest loans to veterans allowing easy access to homeownership.

But Black veterans, he says, were either denied these loans, forcing them to rent, or cities would section off -- often with a red line -- the most desirable suburban areas for Whites, leaving Black and Latino families in less desirable areas with lower property values.

"What the federal government did, is that it's subsidized White communities and White suburbs all across the nation," Shabazz said. "About 95% of all loans went to those White communities."

Alex Cequea is a Senior Producer at Act.TV. He's gotten millions of views on an animation video he created, breaking down redlining and the lasting impacts of systemic racism.

"Just look at a property value map how much houses cost in a city. You will see what looks like lines," he said "You will see neighborhoods, you will see clusters, and if you overlay an old redline map on top of that, they correlate a lot."

So what is the lasting impact of redlining?

Cequea says because Whites were given loans to purchase a home in the suburbs, the wealth from their houses, a great investment, could be passed down to their children. An engine, he says, to create generational wealth. It's a wealth communities of color were denied.

It also includes college education, internships, connections to jobs -- access communities of color were systemically locked out of.

"Sometimes wealth doesn't mean you just get money," Cequea said. "A lot of times it just means you get access, access that you wouldn't otherwise have."