How South Phoenix's Legacy of Housing Discrimination Impacts Residents Today

Redlined for decades, south Phoenix is experiencing a resurgence that could push local residents even farther out as housing costs spike.

April 20, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Arizona Sprawl

Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock

“Housing discrimination, including disastrous government-supported redlining is hurting south Phoenix neighborhoods more than 50 years after it was struck down as illegal and predatory,” write Catherine Reagor and Megan Taros.

According to the authors, south Phoenix neighborhoods redlined by federal government maps in the 1930s continue to see low homeownership rates among Black and Latino residents. “And by keeping the area’s residents from getting mortgages to buy homes for so long, the discriminatory policies kept many families from building the home equity that translates to savings and wealth.”

Now, the area is “seeing some of the biggest jumps in rents and home prices in the Valley,” making it impossible for low-income residents to afford homeownership there now. Like other urban communities around the country, south Phoenix also suffered the effects of freeway construction and a new airport that broke up neighborhoods and reduced mobility for local residents.

A report from ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy documents the lasting effects of discriminatory policies. “Although some policies have tried to reverse these practices and racial integration has drastically increased, the past still weighs on the present housing landscape of Arizona, the report found.”

The source article details the findings of the report, including statistics and maps that show the correlation between historically redlined areas and current homeownership trends, as well as current efforts on the part of grassroots organizations and policymakers to reverse the effects of historically racist policies, even as property values in south Phoenix rise sharply.

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