Mapping Housing Discrimination in Charlottesville

Like many American cities, the site of white supremacist unrest in 2017 has a long history of residential discrimination by race. This mapping project seeks to uncover the roots of today's disparities.

December 30, 2019, 1:00 PM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

Following white supremacist demonstrations that shook the nation in 2017, Zoe Sullivan writes, "the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation created the Heal Charlottesville Fund. In 2018, that fund awarded nearly one million dollars to organizations and initiatives aimed at addressing systemic racism." One of this grants went to Mapping C'Ville, an ambitious effort to chart out just how racial convents discriminated against black homebuyers.

The project's creator Jordy Yager points to economist Raj Chetty's Opportunity Atlas, which ranked Charlottesville low in terms of residents' ability to escape poverty over their lifetimes. That indicates a "structural problem," Yager said. He went on, "your environment, where you live, is the number one predictor of what happens to you in life. If where we live determines what happens to you in life, why do we live where we live?"

Mapping C'Ville has over 100 volunteers reviewing over 300,000 digitized property records and entering them into a searchable database. In addition to revealing the extent and effects of racial covenants, the project is also delving into how residential discrimination dovetails with infrastructural inequities and chronic underinvestment in black neighborhoods.

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