Feb 16, 2022 - News

Philadelphia's redlining legacy persists

Photo courtesy of FiveThirtyEight.

Philadelphia's "hazardous" red lined zones compared to present-day segregation. Graphic: Graphic: FiveThirtyEight and ABC News analysis

Residential segregation is still a reality in Philadelphia more than 80 years after redlining maps were drawn.

  • But the city's formerly redlined areas no longer line up with where communities of color live.

State of play: More white people are moving into formerly redlined zones in Philly, FiveThirtyEight and ABC News reports.

  • As these areas gentrify, property values increase, and lower-income people, many of whom are Black, can't afford to stay.
  • Philadelphia is among seven cities that account for almost half of all gentrification in the country, according to a 2019 study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Catch up fast: In the 1930s, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation graded neighborhoods with high Black populations as "hazardous" or at a high risk of defaulting on mortgage loans — marking them with red ink on their maps.

  • Philadelphia's legacy of redlining — the practice of banks denying loans to buyers in Black neighborhoods — reinforced de facto segregation despite the Northeast never having legal segregation.
  • Anti-discrimination laws like the Fair Housing Act of 1968 helped, but disparities remain widespread.

Of note: Residential segregation correlates with differences in income, poverty, education and health care.

Between the lines: Black homeownership has been declining in Philly over the past 30 years.

  • And it doesn't help that Black Philadelphians still have a harder time securing loans compared to their white counterparts.

Even if Black Philadelphians secure a loan, they're forced to compete with cash buyers, largely investors.

  • Cash transactions have been dominating the housing market across North and West Philadelphia, where large populations of Black and Hispanic non-white people live.

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