The ramifications of the Great Depression redlining are still being felt today
A study by the Cook County Treasurer’s Office finds that 80-year-old racist, government-sanctioned housing policies continue to hurt low-income, mostly minority communities across the county.
The bulk of distressed properties in Chicago and its suburbs are in areas demarcated by the US government in 1940, or in areas where black people moved to escape urban blight, the Cook County Treasurer said. , Maria Pappas.
Redlining is the practice of denying loans to buyers of homes in minority areas as a financial risk. The term referred to the red shading on maps of urban areas where the federal government, in conjunction with lenders, discouraged the issuance of mortgages.
“Redlining may be illegal now, but housing discrimination still exists,” Pappas said. “The current problem of abandoned properties and closed businesses is an 80-year-old light bulb that needs to be put out. This study is supposed to be the needle.
Other study findings:
- Homes in demarcated areas were nearly three times more likely to be seriously in arrears with property tax payments.
- These neighborhoods continue to suffer from high crime rates and population loss.
- Similar patterns of discrimination have occurred in Detroit and Philadelphia, cities that are also struggling with urban decay and the departure of black residents.
- The Scavenger Sale – a decades-old auction system intended to restore properties to productive use – is unable to fulfill its mission.
- Latin American communities have also been affected by redlining. More than 6,000 mostly vacant and derelict properties offered at the 2022 Scavenger sale are in areas often bounded by sizable Latin American populations. The 16th Ward on Chicago’s South Side had the highest percentage of vacant and derelict properties listed during the 2022 Scavenger sale. Much of this neighborhood had been highlighted, and 48% of its residents identify as Latino.
The Treasurer’s recommendations for returning deteriorating properties to productive use include the creation of a public database of abandoned properties; replacing the Scavenger sale with a program that allows developers and local governments to receive properties free of financial burdens and to restore them more quickly; and advancing legislation to lower the interest rate charged by the county on overdue property tax payments from 18% per year to 9% per year, easing the burden on property owners trying to repay their overdue taxes for save their home.