Redlined Communities More Vulnerable To Climate Change
- Urban areas produce 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and poor neighborhoods are more vulnerable to climate change
- Low-income Black communities already have higher rates of many health conditions and take longer to bounce back from natural disasters
Government housing policies such as redlining, have had lasting effects, from concentrating poverty, to stifling African American homeownership. Now, these same redlined neighborhoods are suffering under extreme heat from climate change. Formerly redlined neighborhoods have about half as many trees today as the highest-rated predominantly white neighborhoods. The extra heat generated can have dangerous, and sometimes deadly, health consequences on minority neighborhoods.
Why This Matters: Low-income Black communities already have higher rates of many health conditions and take longer to bounce back from natural disasters, think Hurricane Katrina. High heat patterns in poor urban areas are likely the result of more concrete and fewer trees and green spaces. Studies show that these neighborhoods are often hotter than other neighborhoods in the same city by an average of almost 5 degrees.
Redlined neighborhoods are often hotter than other neighborhoods in the same city by an average of almost 5 degrees
These housing inequalities are only exacerbated by climate change making it even harder for low-income families to accumulate wealth by owning property, which historically has been one of the few avenues for minority homeowners to do so.
Monthly mortgage payments that increase a homeowner’s equity are a form of forced savings, and other benefits of owning a home offer potential long-term financial security. In 2014, a renters’ median net worth was only $2,381 while a homeowners’ net worth was $205,300 and home equity made up $88,000. That same year, white families had a net worth of $130,800, whereas Blacks only owned $9,590 per household. A big reason for this disparity is that whites were more likely to be homeowners. Specifically, homeownership among Black college graduates is 56.4 percent, lower than white high school dropouts at 60.5 percent.
Situational Awareness: Here’s a quick history on the origins of redlining: After the stock market crash of 1929, U.S. unemployment rates were as high as 20 percent. The Federal government stepped in, providing bonds for homeowners to refinance their mortgages and stimulate the economy as part of the New Deal, but these programs were no deal for African Americans. The government drew boundaries between neighborhoods that were eligible and ineligible for the new loans. This process, known as redlining, excluded Blacks and endorsed housing segregation, labeling communities of color as risky and perpetuating neighborhood inequalities.
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