Redlining is Denying Someone a Home Based on Exterior Circumstances

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Updated: Mar 27, 2023
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“The American real estate industry believed segregation to be a moral principle”. They believed that separating people based on factors that were outside of their control was acceptable. When segregation happens in real estate, it’s called redlining. It can happen in many forms, such as denying loans, refusing service, and building infrastructure to keep people separated. Redlining is discrimination and has physically separated America.

Redlining is denying someone a home based on exterior circumstances. In this instance, exterior circumstances mean their skin color.

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They denied black people homes only because they were black. They tried to justify this by saying, “If a neighborhood is to retain stability, it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes.” They believed that if you allowed black people into a white neighborhood, chaos would come with them. Today, this idea would be preposterous, but back then, it was considered to be sound logic.

There were a few ways that they were able to accomplish this absurd practice. One way was to prevent them from getting mortgage loans from a bank. That was, they would not have any money to afford a home. Another way that they were able to do it was to prevent them from getting insurance on their homes. This way would prevent them from getting approved for a home loan. Either way, they ensured that black people would not be able to financially afford a home.

But how did they make sure that black and white neighborhoods weren’t expanding toward each other? The way they deemed to be the best way to build a highway around the black neighborhoods. This made it a government issue instead of a housing issue. Passing the responsibility to local governments instead of on the banks or Federal Housing Association. Some cities weren’t as discreet in their ways that they separated the two races. Detroit built a six-foot-tall cement wall to help segregate the black community. Donald Trump would be proud of them.

When people are forced to live somewhere that other people don’t want to go, a lot more is affected than just where they live. One of the most important side effects of red lining is the lack of education in these areas. Cities will be more likely to spend tax dollars on schools filled with white children they deem to be more promising than black children. Another important side effect was businesses did not want to go to these areas, making it hard for black people to get jobs. Also, public transportation was limited in all-black neighborhoods, making it even harder for them to have jobs. Which helped build the wage gap between white people and black people.

This unreasonable practice finally lasted for over thirty years. It started in 1934 and ended in 1968 with the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act made it illegal to deny someone the sale or renting of a home based on their social status or race. But, by this time, the damage that had been done would take decades to fix. Whether it be the wage gap, unavailable transportation, poor education, or lack of job opportunities, the odds were stacked against the black community.

Americans may think that something so clearly discriminatory and racist as redlining couldn’t possibly exist in today’s society, but they would be completely wrong. Last year in Jackson, Mississippi, on September 9, a discrimination complaint was filed against RE/MAX real estate for not helping their black clients. They would take their white clients and show them only all-white neighborhoods and would ignore black people who wanted to buy a house. Then on September 24, the U.S. Justice Department made a court settlement with Hudson City Savings Bank after finding out they were avoiding doing home loans with black people. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman was quoted as saying, “If you lived in a majority-black neighborhood and you wanted to apply for a mortgage, Hudson City Savings Bank was not the place for you.” Redlining is still prominent in America and just as discriminatory as it was in 1934.

Redlining is a terrible part of American history, but it doesn’t have to be a part of the future. If anyone feels like they have been discriminated against in the real estate industry, the government has set up ways to report it. One of the ways the government has helped was by setting up the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees ways to increase homeownership, help build community development, and increase affordable housing, all without discrimination. Additionally, the government set up the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, which enforces fair housing and compliance activities. If someone believes they have experienced any discrimination, they may file a claim with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity toll-free. Redlining is discrimination and has physically separated America.

Works Cited

  1. Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic. 2014
  2. Federal Housing Administration, “Underwriting Manual: Underwriting and Valuation Procedure Under Title II of the National Housing Act,” April 1, 1936, Part II, Section 2.
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Redlining is Denying Someone a Home Based on Exterior Circumstances. (2023, Mar 27). Retrieved from