The Redlining Lab is digitizing 

Redlining Maps.

Wilmington, Delaware Real Property Inventory Map: Research Division of the Federal Housing Administration

In his 1955 book Forbidden Neighbors, Charles Abrams stated “the FHA adopted a racial policy that could well have been culled from the Nuremberg Laws.” The above map, from Wilmington, Delaware is one example illustrative of the FHA’s “racial policy;” its red lines marking the boundary between the city’s haves and havenots. The FHA  drafted this and hundreds of other redlining maps immediately after its inception in 1934. The Redlining Lab will feature everything we learn about these maps from around the United States on this website.   

The Redlining Lab was founded by two sociologists (Jacob and Kate), one urban planner (Wenfei), and an historian (Thomas) to fill gaps in our collective understanding of where and how the federal government shaped home mortgage lending during and after the New Deal. Our work builds on a wealth of recent scholarship that expanded our knowledge of the obstacles that potential mortgage borrowers in the middle of the Twentieth Century faced due to their race, ethnicity, nationality, and location. 

Much of this research relies on data from the groundbreaking work of Mapping Inequality, which digitized the infamous Homeowners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) redlining maps. While HOLC operated primarily during a few years of the Great Depression refinancing existing mortgages, the FHA and VA impacted new mortgages and new housing from that time period to the present. Our central hypothesis is that they, the FHA and VA, deserve the lion’s share of the infamy ascribed to HOLC in the popular and scholarly imaginations. 

We are digitizing FHA maps as well as records of mortgages backed by the FHA and the Veterans Administration (VA). We are grateful for generous financial support from the Russell Sage Foundation and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth

We are generously supported by: