Redlining Makes Us Sick: How the legacy of redlining contributes to poor health conditions today by Melissa Alexander (MICA)

From the 1930s to 1967, the federal government undertook a comprehensive effort to map perceived lending risk in neighborhoods of more than 230 cities across the US. This practice became known as redlining due to the colors used in the maps: Green (A - Best Neighborhoods), Blue (B - Still Desirable Neighborhoods), Yellow (C - Declining Neighborhoods), and Red (D - Hazardous Neighborhoods). Access to credit in neighborhoods outlined in red ink - populated mostly by racial, ethnic, or religious minorities - was severely limited. The federal government, banking, and real estate institutions all participated in the systematic marginalization of these communities by denying them essential financial services and opportunities. Research consistently shows that these historical injustices contribute to current-day disparities in housing, wealth, education, and environmental pollution.

This project connects the historical implications of redlining with the air we breathe; specifically, how redlined areas have significantly worse air quality, which leads to poor health outcomes for residents. The story of redlining is unveiled using a scrollytelling format that combines maps, data visualization, interactive dashboards, and historical photos to educate the viewer, lead them to research conclusions, and energize a call to action.

Project Goals
• Introduce a general audience to easily relatable concepts of structural inequality
• Raise awareness of the impacts of racist lending practices enabled by the HOLC maps
• Contribute to an important and growing body of research
• Support efforts to improve conditions in redlined neighborhoods.

Tools Used
• ArcGIS Suite (ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Enterprise, R Plug-in, Dashboards, StoryMaps)
• RStudio
• Adobe Illustrator
• Microsoft Excel