Report: Decades of discrimination in housing kept areas in Trumbull poor
WARREN — The effects of historical discrimination in certain parts of a city in the housing and home lending markets — often heavily impacting minority populations — are still felt in those neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods have remained poor after lenders refused to help families for decades, fair housing advocates say.
The potential borrowers weren’t denied the ability to obtain a mortgage or a home improvement loan because of his or her credit history, but because of how a neighborhood was evaluated.
The practice is commonly referred to as redlining — referencing maps of a city with sections deemed “bad” areas to lend in outlined and cut off in red ink.
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition defines redlining as “the practice of denying borrowers access to credit based on the location of properties in minority or economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.”
“The racism that led to redlining and the segregation it caused are still issues that we face today,” Meghan Reed, director of the Trumbull County Historical Society said. “It was an inherently unequal policy against primarily immigrant and black communities, and it is important for all residents — those who were directly impacted and those who were not — to understand how such a discriminatory practice became embedded in so many American neighborhoods.
“It is a common occurrence for those who live in the North to not understand that segregation happened here. It did, and housing policies like redlining created a type of legalized segregation that is not often talked of,” Reed said.
The process began in the 1930s when an agency of the federal government, largely using race-based decisions, ranked neighborhoods as best, still desirable, definitely declining and hazardous.
“From 1935 to 1939, government surveyors interviewed local officials and bankers in 239 cities to document what local lenders considered credit risks in different neighborhoods. The surveyors considered a variety of factors, including access to transportation and the quality of the housing. But a primary driver of the grading system was the racial and ethnic makeup of the neighborhood’s residents,” the NCRC study states.
Many of the neighborhoods designated hazardous or declining remain poor with low-to-moderate income households, with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty severely handicapped without access to capital, found a 2018 study conducted by the NCRC. The group compared the maps made by the former Home Owners’ Loan Corporation — a government corporation that was founded to help at-risk homeowners keep their homes from going into foreclosure — to economic data from the last census.
While overt redlining is illegal today, having been prohibited under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, its enduring effect is still evident in the structure of U.S. cities.
Maps used in the study show parts of Warren labeled definitely declining and hazardous — large swaths of the city’s south, west, north and central areas — are still impoverished with a median family income less than 80 percent of the area’s average. The east side of the city, labeled best and still desirable, remains above the poverty level.
The study “shows how policies that influence access to capital and credit can have a lasting impact on housing patterns, the economic health of neighborhoods and who accumulates wealth — for decades. That means new policies to boost access to capital, including in low- and moderate-income communities, can also have a lasting impact,” an NCRC article states.
“What I found truly shocking about this work wasn’t necessarily the finding that redlining existed, but where it existed there are lasting impacts almost a century later,” said Jason Richardson, director of research at NCRC. “It’s as if time stood still in some of these places, locking people into neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.”
In order to further a discussion on how to end the long-lasting effects redlining had on cities, including Warren, several local groups worked together to create a panel discussion and presentation by Jason Reece, an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, an expert in the area.
“Equity for All: Discussion on Redlining, Historical Segregation” is a free event scheduled to begin with a 5:30 p.m. reception Thursday at Packard Music Hall.
The presentation begins at 6:20 p.m. and is followed by a panel discussion with Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich, an associate professor at Youngstown State University and Kayla S. Griffen with the Cleveland branch of the NAACP. Sara Daugherty, director of operation and economic impact for the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center will moderate. Attendees will be able to ask questions and participate in the event that lasts until 8:30 p.m.
“It is important to understand the historical context of redlining, how it has impacted our neighborhoods, and the continued effect it has on our residents and community to this day. This event will provide a platform for our residents to discuss issues they have faced and assist in crafting future fair housing policies,” said Shawn Carvin, land bank program director for Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.
If you go…
WHAT: “Equity for All: Discussion on Redlining, Historical Segregation,” a free presentation and panel discussion
WHEN: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave. NW, Warren.
HOW MUCH: Free
SPONSORS: City of Warren, Trumbull County commissioners, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, The Raymond John Wean Foundation, the Trumbull County Historical Society, the Trumbull County Land Bank, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership and the Warren Area Board of Realtors.