Environmental Racism: A Tool for Exploring the Enduring Legacy of Redlining on Urban Environments [book]

Communities of color and low-income populations in the United States are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards. Systemic discriminatory practices in past urban planning and housing policies have contributed to the development of cities and are associated with disproportionate environmental burdens in some communities to this day. To examine this issue, we created a tool for exploring spatial patterns of environmental hazards and amenities, along with one historical discriminatory
more » ... ractice: redlining. Redlining was a practice that began in the mid-1930s, when the Federal Home Loan Bank Board asked the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) to create "residential security" maps to indicate the level of security for mortgage lending in cities across the country. The security level was indicated with grades ranging from A (best; colored in green) to D (hazardous; colored in red). We created an interactive online tool to show how present-day environmental indicators vary within cities according to these past spatial delineations. The tool includes data on environmental hazards (e.g., pollution and waste sites) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ambient temperature from Oregon State University, tree canopy cover from the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) consortium, and proportion of housing in flood plains from New York University. This tool can help policymakers and community residents understand the links between historical discriminatory practices and current environmental inequities and identify neighborhoods within their own cities that are disproportionately burdened and therefore could be targeted for environmental improvement efforts. Community Health and Environmental Policy Program RAND Social and Economic Well-Being is a division of the RAND Corporation that seeks to actively improve the health and social and economic well-being of populations and communities throughout the world. This research was conducted in the Community Health and Environmental Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being. The program focuses on such topics as infrastructure, science and technology, community design, community health promotion, migration and population dynamics, transportation, energy, and climate and the environment, as well as other policy concerns that are influenced by the natural and built environment, technology, and community organizations and institutions that affect well-being. For more information, email
doi:10.7249/tla1456-1 fatcat:xmwqdbhxzraanjf2dadk2tdnpe