Redlining is not an unfamiliar term for most urban areas across the country. Defined as the refusal of a loan to someone based on a neighborhood deemed a "poor financial risk," the term references the literal drawing of a red line on a map delineating where banks will and will not invest financial support. It's a word that was invented in the 1940s, but came to popularity in the 1960s during socialist activist movements.
- "Green areas are 'hot spots'; they are not yet fully built up. They are homogeneous; in demand as residential locations in 'good time' or 'bad'; hence 'on the upgrade.'
- "Blue areas, as a rule, are completely developed. They are like a 1935 automobile still good, but not what the people are buying today who can afford a new one."
- "Yellow areas are characterized by age, obsolescence, and change of style; expiring restrictions or lack of them; infiltration of a lower grade population; the presence of influences which increase sales resistance such as inadequate transportation, insufficient utilities, perhaps heavy tax burdens, poor maintenance of homes, etc. 'Jerry' built areas are included, as well as neighborhoods lacking homogeneity."
- "Red areas represent those neighborhoods in which the things that are now taking place in the Yellow neighborhoods have already happened. They are characterized by detrimental influences in a pronounced degree, undesirable population or infiltration of it. Unstable incomes of the people and difficult collections are usually prevalent."
Conversely, if individuals were denied banks' support in purchasing homes in the 1930s and 40s, they were then unable to benefit from the eventual housing boom. Instead, many were dealt rising rents, decaying urban infrastructure and no property with which to invest. Homeowners in red neighborhoods who were denied loans often couldn't pay for the upkeep of their buildings, resulting in homelessness and abandoned properties, many of which became hotbeds for crime.
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