A look at ‘redlining,’ the discriminatory real estate practice with Chicago roots

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CHICAGO — In the mid 1900’s a group of Chicago academics and real estate visionaries used property ownership and government lending initiatives to steady the markets, build up outlying communities and reinforce segregation.

What resulted was the “suburbs.”

“Redlining” was the bank practice of denying loans to certain neighborhoods. Residents of color, or even in the early part of that century, to European immigrants and Jews, were often denied.

Similarly, practices like real estate steering and restrictive covenants kept African Americans and immigrants out of “desirable” neighborhoods. There would be no regard to the ability to purchase the home and contribute to those communities.

Those same guidelines in Chicago were adopted across the country, as the city was home of the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, and shaped the way the homeownership was achieved nationwide.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 made those practices illegal but there are problems regularly reported.

WGN News reached out to the NAR for an interview to ask how they’re working to improve industry confidence and they provided this statement.

The viability of our 1.4 million members depends on the free, fair, transparent and efficient transfer of property in America, and NAR believes that fair housing protections are vital to advancing our nation’s progress toward thriving and inclusive communities. Beyond our initiatives to address discrimination in real estate transactions, we are engaged in and exploring further policy discussions designed to close racial homeownership and inter-generational wealth gaps.

Last year, NAR worked with NAREB and the Urban Institute to develop a five-point framework to boost minority homeownership, and we continue to support increased discrimination testing in the industry. We’ve also developed innovative new training programs on implicit bias and confronting discrimination in real-life real estate scenarios.

Most recently, NAR has taken concrete steps in effort to secure Realtors®’ industry- leading role in our fight against racial bias and discrimination. In January, we began implementing our new “ACT” plan – which emphasizes Accountability, Culture Change, and Training – designed to ensure Realtors® are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America. We’re also working with our partners to develop a second ACT plan that advocates for housing policy that addresses systemic discrimination and the legacy of housing segregation.

– NAR President Vince Malta

Want to see how your neighborhood was graded? You can find it on the University of Richmond’s “Mapping Inequality” website.

https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=5/39.1/-94.58

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