Map Divvying Up Cleveland Resembles Redlining Maps of the Past

Cleveland neighborhoods were coded to help real estate investors, but the result is a map that harks back to old discriminatory housing practices, say critics.

November 16, 2018, 2:00 PM PST

By Camille Fink

Cleveland Vacant Home

edkohler / Flickr

Brentin Mock reports on recent controversy over a 2015 blog post about a map of Cleveland that looks much like redlining maps from the last century. The map, produced by a local real estate developer, graded the city’s neighborhoods, ostensibly to provide investors with a guide to where they might get the best return on investments.

But, says Mock, the grades highlight race and class segregation throughout the city:

The red “F” category is called the “Warzone” in [James] Wise’s blog, and consists of the African-American East Cleveland neighborhood and several zip codes that have majority black populations, and most of which have incomes below $22,000. The D category, also red, consists of just three neighborhoods, each of which have sizable black and Latino populations, all located in the city and with majority renter populations. 

The Home Owners Loan Corporation redlining maps of the 1930s divided the city based on similar metrics, and designations of “neighborhood desirability” drove investment and home loan decisions. “Desirability was defined by the neighborhood’s household incomes, the percentage of homeowners, and by 'homogeneity'—whether white people made up the majority of the neighborhood,” reports Mock.

Some housing advocates wonder if the more recent map could actually help residents in lower-income neighborhoods over the long run. Investors looking to flip properties and make a quick buck might be motivated to steer clear of Cleveland’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, says Mock.

Friday, November 9, 2018 in CityLab

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