On the House: 1930s maps give insight into practice of ‘redlining’

Columbus Dispatch

The maps were created in the mid-1930s to show the level of lending risk in 239 cities, including 14 in Ohio. They were commissioned by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and produced by the Home Owners’ Loan Corp.

The maps, commonly called HOLC maps, carved cities into colors indicating where loans were safest. Blue areas were Type A (most desirable), followed by green, yellow, and finally red (least desirable) — where the federal government would not back the loans.

The benign-looking maps resulted in the insidious practice of “redlining”: denying loans to poor, ethnic and black neighborhoods.

To contemporary eyes, the neighborhood descriptions accompanying most maps (although not the one in Columbus) induce cringes. They include categories to note “foreign-born,” “type” of population, “ Negro” percentage, percentage of families on relief and other “detrimental influences” on property values.

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The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity was established in 2003 as a center for interdisciplinary research at The Ohio State University. The Kirwan Institute works to create a just and inclusive society where all people and communities have opportunity to succeed.