ReShonda Young looks at the restrictive covenant placed on homes in her neighborhood, including hers, that prevented Black residents from moving in.

Do you know the history of discrimination in your community?

The Center for Public Integrity delved into Waterloo, Iowa, for a podcast about the country’s racial wealth gap. What we saw included two types of real estate racism that played out coast to coast in the United States. Both erected barriers to wealth-building that still hurt people today, Black families especially, decades after the practices were declared illegal. 

It’s a lot easier than it once was to see the local impact of one of those practices, known as redlining. That means you can go digging, too.

A federal agency called the Home Owners’ Loan Corp. graded neighborhoods in more than 200 cities nationwide during the 1930s, declaring some neighborhoods suitable for mortgage investment and some “hazardous.” The latter were colored red on HOLC maps — for reasons that included the race of the people living there.

“Redlining directed both public and private capital to native-born white families and away from African American and immigrant families,” concluded a team of researchers at four universities, including the University of Richmond, that put these maps online.

To find out if your community was redlined by HOLC, go to the universities’ Mapping Inequality site. You’ll see not just the maps but also the justifications that federal employees gave for their grades.

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