Fighting Housing Discrimination Will Take All of Us
Homeownership is for everyone, right? Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case. Discriminatory practices like redlining have prevented generations of minorities from achieving the dream of homeownership. Here’s how this ugly practice came to be, what it looks like today, and how you can join the fight for equity in homeownership.
What Is Redlining?
Redlining is the discriminatory practice of withholding financial services from residents of designated areas, most often minority neighborhoods, based on the applicant’s racial or ethnic identity. Redlining is most often observed in the systematic denial of home loans, insurance policies, and other services regardless of the applicant’s objective qualifications or eligibility.
Unfortunately, this unsavory financial practice originated right here in the Windy City. In the mid 1900s, a group of local academics and real estate professionals convened to invigorate nearby communities and reinforce segregation. Their project resulted in the formation of the suburbs to the systematic disadvantage of minority neighborhoods.
Banks soon began denying all loans to specific neighborhoods, and the term “redlining” was coined for the theoretical red lines drawn around the portions of a map that were not to receive financial assistance. Coupled with similar discriminatory housing practices, like racial steering, people of color, immigrants, and other minorities were systematically barred from many “desirable” neighborhoods.
As Chicago was home to the National Association of REALTORSⓇ (NAR), similar guidelines were implemented across the nation before long. While the Fair Housing Act eventually outlawed redlining in 1968, the damage was already done. Generations of potential homeowners were affected, and discriminatory practices are still regularly reported today.
How Is Redlining Addressed Today?
To combat the ugly aftereffects of redlining, banks are now offering grants aimed at raising minority homeownership rates, individuals across the nation are standing up in their communities, and NAR is working to provide their members with the tools for change.
“Last year, NAR worked with [The National Association of Real Estate Brokers] and the Urban Institute to develop a five-point framework to boost minority homeownership,” said NAR Vice President Vince Malta. “We’ve also developed innovative new training programs on implicit bias and confronting discrimination in real-life real estate scenarios… In January, we began implementing our new “ACT” plan – which emphasizes Accountability, Culture Change, and Training – designed to ensure REALTORSⓇ are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America. We’re also working with our partners to develop a second ACT plan that advocates for housing policy that addresses systemic discrimination and the legacy of housing segregation.”
How Can Illinois Real Estate Agents Fight Redlining?
With change on the horizon, there’s no better time to become an advocate in your community. Explore your market’s history of inequity, then volunteer, donate, and be sure to report any discrimination you may come across in the field. After all, securing universal equity in homeownership will take all of us!