Redlining and Health

Did you know your ZIP code determines your health status? Where you live affects your likelihood of life expectancy, if you breathing clean air or develop a chronic disease.

Redlining was outlawed through the Fair Housing Act of 1968 with the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, but the evidence of this practice is still present. Look at any city map and you can see this practice in full view.

“The power of the maps was to make discriminatory practices visible and provide a verb for the practice of denying loans to certain areas of our cities — an act we now know as “redlining” (Rogers, 2016).

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration created the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, which not only bailed homeowners out of loans they couldn’t afford but set guidelines for determining which loans it would guarantee in which neighborhoods (Middleton, 2020).

Maps were created for more than 230 American cities,  that graded neighborhoods from “A, Best” to “D, Hazardous” to visually represent the security of loans in various neighborhoods and drew red lines around Grade D neighborhoods, where it would not guarantee loans — what we now call “redlining.” (Middleton, 2020).

The guidelines were based on race and ethnicity, land use and housing age. The practice blocked access to credit in neighborhoods where people of color lived.

“In addition to starving neighborhoods of important services and access to credit, systematic segregation depressed land values, making it easy for poorly regulated polluting industries to set up shop or continue to expand in those neighborhoods. Thus poor regulation affects ones health in many ways” (Middleton, 2020).


Middleton, Z. (2020). How racist ‘redlining’ gave rise to cancer clusters and other environmental injustices | One Breath Partnership (

Rodgers, S. (2016). Hazardous: The Redlining of Houston Neighborhoods | Rice Design Alliance

Published by Dr. Marilyn Crosby, PhD, MBA, MSN RN

I am an registered nurse with a variety of nursing experience in many areas of healthcare, including critical care, research, program management, quality, and complementary care. I have a passion for "all things related to health & wellness" and want to share pertinent information. Stay Well!

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