The words are startling to modern eyes.
Negro area. Shifting or infiltration: Jewish and Negro Negro homes all through the industrial area. Mixed poorer class Russian, Bohemian.
These are U. African Americans and other minorities have long faced discrimination in the housing market — from real estate agents, landlords and sellers. The federal government became an active part of that discrimination in the s when it began to explicitly use race and ethnicity to determine whether homebuyers were eligible for government-backed loans, in effect keeping some neighborhoods white and confining blacks and other minorities to less desirable areas of American cities. During the post-World War II boom in housing — and the wholesale creation of the suburbs — blacks received just 2 percent of all loans — despite representing 10 percent of the population — and typically only in areas where other blacks lived.
HOLCcreated to save a housing market wracked by Depression-era foreclosures, helped deepen segregation in nine Michigan cities.
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We then show modern maps of those cities, to show to what extent the legacy of government-sanctioned segregation remains today. Winling and others argue that HOLC maps, along with decisions by its New Deal cousin, the Federal Housing Administration, help explain the location of predominantly black neighborhoods that remain in many Michigan cities today. Blacks were largely blocked from federally-backed mortgages, not because of their incomes or credit scores, but because of their race. The language of government-sanctioned racism was perhaps most blunt in Flint.
In one north Flint area, where 60 percent of residents were African-American and 40 percent foreign born in the s, the HOLC appraisal made it crystal clear why it redlined the neighborhood:.
HOLC was created with the lofty purpose of helping lenders and borrowers crushed by the foreclosure crisis of the Depression by buying failing loans and extending the terms out over 10 to 15 years. Driving around the neighborhood along Oakland and Winchell streets in Kalamazoo, you can see what the HOLC appraisers found attractive: nice homes on wide lots amid gently rolling hills. In the s, it had something they also liked: it was all-white.
The use of deed restrictions was first struck down by the U. Supreme Court in a decision.
Today, the neighborhood is more integrated — roughly 10 percent of the population is black and a total of 20 percent non-white. But long-term investment in the neighborhood is telling, as are the schools. At Winchell Elementary, just a third of students qualify for a subsidized lunch, compared with 62 percent across the entire Kalamazoo school district.
Alien and negro labor. Today, the Lincoln neighborhood is overwhelmingly African-American and poor. As he drove around the city recently, he pointed out the good neighborhoods and the struggling ones in a tour that could have been predicted by year-old maps.
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A professor of political science and public administration at Central Michigan University, she recalls being shocked at the segregation in the North when she came to Ohio to attend graduate school. An African American, she learned quickly it was a myth that only the South was segregated.
But it was years later, when researching a book on the landmark Milliken v. Bradley school desegregation case out of Detroit, in which the U. Supreme Court overturned a plan to bus students between Detroit and its suburbs, that Baugh saw the HOLC maps and read the neighborhood descriptions for cities across the country, not just the South. And even when separate, those neighborhoods with blacks were almost always considered the highest risk for investment and thus held the lowest value.
One neighborhood of Grand Rapids, just east of downtown, had several favorable factors, according to HOLC, including good access to transportation and good schools.
Neighborhoods across the country that lacked local zoning, paved ro and other urban infrastructure were downgraded. But while those things could change — city and rural leaders enact zoning regulations and improved infrastructure to secure higher FHA ratings and investment — people could not change their race, and the rules largely did not change in their favor. In almost every area with even a handful of black families, the Home Ownership Loan Corp. While private loans at the time traditionally had to be paid off in five to six years, HOLC extended it to 10 and 12 years, an experiment that worked.
Ultimately, the FHA would push the limit to 30 years and popularize the long-term mortgage we know today. In Flint, the FHA insured tens of thousands of home loans for white families but only a couple dozen for blacks, many of whom had similarly good-paying jobs in the GM factories in town, said Andrew Highsmith, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who studied Flint for his dissertation at the University of Michigan.
It has created neighborhoods that have consistently been eligible for millions in government support — and others that have not. The policies, Freund argues, created a country in which whites gained access to the wealth-generating effect of homeownership that largely eluded blacks. Altering long-term segregation has proven difficult.
And others are enacting and enforcing fair housing ordinancesoffering home purchase assistancepromoting regional solutions to housing requiring communities to set aside land for affordable housing and experimenting with scattered site public housing, which has shown positive effects. We live in the communities that we create. For most that means neighborhood block parties and attendance at the local PTA meetings. But it also means the policies that government enact.
Fixing segregation by creating the cities of tomorrow may also take political action.
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Topic: Michigan Government. August 8, Mike Wilkinson. Michigan Government.
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Share this article via. Print this article. Negro homes all through the industrial area Mixed poorer class Russian, Bohemian These are U. How 'redlining' from the s impacts housing patterns in 9 Michigan cities today: African Americans and other minorities have long faced discrimination in the housing market — from real estate agents, landlords and sellers.
Kalamazoo, then and now Driving around the neighborhood along Oakland and Winchell streets in Kalamazoo, you can see what the HOLC appraisers found attractive: nice homes on wide lots amid gently rolling hills.
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