As I look around the neighborhood I live in, I see mostly faces that look like mine. The same is likely true for the neighborhoods you live in. The reality for many of us is that the racial makeup of our neighborhoods continue to be impacted by the legacy of racist housing policies and redlining. More than that however, our streets look different, our schools have different educational outcomes, our taxes are different, our healthcare offerings- many of the things we utilize in our communities are different. Many of us live in communities that have largely remained the same, even after these policies have officially ended. 

Redlining began as an official policy in the 1930s, when lenders decided which investment areas were higher risk (areas with a higher BIPOC population) or lower risk (areas with predominantly white families). Racist housing policy in that time also allowed for neighborhoods to deny Black home buyers from moving into all white communities. Black residents were often relegated to rental properties in certain geographic areas. Resources were then stripped from those neighborhoods; the city didn’t plan for green space or safe traffic ways. This practice continued for over 30 years, ending officially in 1968 but unofficially continuing longer. The white families who were able to purchase homes in those 40 years have passed down generational earnings that have helped lead to a significant gap between white family wealth and Black family wealth. In 2022, the median net worth of white families was $285,000, dividends ahead of Black family median net worth of just $44, 900.

We are now more than 50 years past the introduction and passing of the Fair Housing Act, a 1968 policy which officially ended redlining and other forms of racial segregation in housing. However, our communities in the U.S. largely still reflect the racial makeup of the 1940s.  Formerly redlined neighborhoods in Kansas City are still more likely to be inhabited by Black families, have more vacant properties, and have less value per acre. The practice of racial steering means some realtors will discourage Black homeowners from viewing homes in predominantly white areas, and vice versa. Black mortgage applicants are denied at twice the rate of white applicants. Individuals living in formerly redlined areas even have a shorter lifespan expectation, losing 3.6 years on average and experiencing asthma, high cholesterol, strokes, and other negative health outcomes at higher rates.

Our February Friday Forum will dive deeper into the practice of redlining, and the lasting consequences to our communities. Register now to join our speaker, Marquiea Watson, Executive Director of the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness, as she explores the legacy of redlining in Missouri and across the U.S.

If you can’t join us live, registrants will also receive a link to the recording of the Friday Forum the following week.

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