In honor of the 45th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME) presents a multimedia exhibition of photographs, stories of HOME's impact, and GIS research maps. The maps, designed by HOME Research Director Brian Koziol, examine the connection between public policy and economic development in the Richmond region through a fair housing lens.
The Mapping RVA: Where You Live Makes All the Difference exhibition is an extension of the Opportunity Map report released in December of 2012. To read the report and learn more about HOME’s housing research click here
Map 1: 1950 Richmond Population and HOLC Neighborhood Boundaries
In the wake of the Great Depression, the Federal government passed the National Housing Act of 1934 as part of the New Deal in an effort to make homeownership more affordable and prevent foreclosures.
A significant part of the Act was the creation of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) to prevent foreclosures and refinance mortgages. Until this time, mortgages were amortized over five to ten years and culminated in a balloon payment. The HOLC greatly extended the amortization period to 20 to 25 years. The program is credited for saving over one million homes from foreclosure. It is also credited with coining the phrase ‘redlining.’ Redlining refers to the practice of denying, or charging more for, services like banking and insurance. In the case of the HOLC residential security maps a red line delineated neighborhoods not fit for investment.
By working with local real estate agents in cities across the country, HOLC created Residential Security Maps based in significant part on the racial composition of neighborhoods. As seen in the map, those areas outlined in red or graded type D by the HOLC, were predominantly African American and found in the inner city. Areas labeled type C were classified as ‘working class’ and contained a larger number of whites. The vast majority of areas graded type A and B, were populated solely by Whites. The underlying racism the HOLC grading system and the resulting lack of investment in predominantly African American neighborhoods is still prevalent today.
Map 2: Brown v. Board of Education, Massive Resistance, and White Flight
Decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1954, Brown v. Board of Education declared state laws which established separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. In Virginia, the strong presence of the Byrd Organization, led by former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd assured that integration was hard-pressed, if not completely prevented. Massive Resistance was characterized by the opening of private segregation academies for white students who refused desegregation. This phenomenon was not widely experienced in the city of Richmond; instead white families retreated into Henrico and Chesterfield Counties in an attempt to resist racial/ethnic integration. This was “White Flight.”
Between 1960 and 1970, the white population in Henrico increased by 29 percent. For the three following decades, until 2000, white population consistently decreased in Richmond. In the period between 1970 and 1980, the percent of whites in Chesterfield increased by 85 percent, and from 1980 to 1990, the percentage increased by 41 percent. During these same periods, the percentage of whites in Richmond decreased by 27 percent and 16 percent, respectively. The increased focus of the white population in the counties surrounding Richmond illustrates the subsequent “White Flight” of Massive Resistance and the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
Map 3: Inner City Poverty, Project Based Public Housing, HCV, LIHTC
As part of Harry Truman’s Fair Deal, the Housing Act of 1949 effectively served to concentrate poverty in the inner city through the construction of public housing. By and large, public housing units were constructed in neighborhoods receiving a D grade by the HOLC. Since that time, the efforts of Federal housing subsidies have been relegated to neighborhoods with the greatest poverty rates, in effect containing poverty to the inner city. This map shows the location of various types of federal housing subsidies: Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) – a housing mobility program for low income residents more commonly known as Section 8, Low Income Tax Credits (LITHC) – Federal tax incentives for the construction of low income housing units, and conventional project-based Public Housing – more commonly known as ‘the projects.’
The map shows the concentration of Federal housing subsidies in the inner city. This focus on providing housing subsidies to the residents most in need of receiving them is not misplaced. However, the unintended consequences of prolonged, concentrated poverty are a serious detriment to the health of the region. This concentration is greatly exacerbated by the lack of a regional public transit system which prevents residents of all income levels from accessing housing opportunities throughout the region, NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) - community opposition to new low-income developments in more affluent neighborhoods, and the spatial mismatch of skill levels and job opportunities for inner city residents.
Map 4: Subprime Lending
The subprime lending spree that precipitated the foreclosure crisis and the near collapse of the U.S. economy had disastrous effects on minority neighborhoods across the country. Touted as a way to expand homeownership opportunities to families that wouldn’t qualify for traditional mortgage products, subprime lending had the effect of stripping any remaining wealth in minority neighborhoods and essentially creating a new landless class.
According to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, from 2004 to 2011, 107,345 home mortgages were originated for 1-4 family, owner occupied home purchases in the Richmond region. Of these, 12 percent, or 12,779 were considered subprime. Comparing these loans against the minority composition of the neighborhoods in which they were made reveals a startling disparity. Subprime loans accounted for just 5 percent (2,064) of the total number of loans (37,641) made in neighborhoods having less than a 20 percent minority population. In contrast, subprime loans constituted 31 percent (2,179) of the total number of loans (7,036) in neighborhoods having greater than 20 percent minority population.
Not only is it clear that minorities were more likely to receive a subprime loan than their white counterparts, they were more likely to be denied a loan in the first place. In 2006, at the height of the lending frenzy, blacks were denied home purchase loans 18.64 percent of the time compared to just 6.36 percent of whites. Minorities in total were denied 15.5 percent of the time. As the population of the United States continues its rapid shift towards a non-white majority, homeownership and economic equality must become a reality.
Map 5: Foreclosures
The subprime mortgage lending industry was, by and large, non-selective when it came to originating inferior mortgage products. However, numerous high-profile examples exist that show subprime lenders purposely targeted minority neighborhoods in communities throughout the country. Moreover, there is little question that minority neighborhoods across the Country have been disproportionately impacted by the foreclosure epidemic of the past several years. Neighborhoods in Richmond are no different. Richmond’s segregated housing patterns, subprime lending, the collapse of the economy, and the resultant foreclosure epidemic disproportionately impacted African American neighborhoods in our region.
For example, neighborhoods with greater than 75 percent African American homeownership rates account for just 12 percent of the total number of census tracts throughout the region; these tracts accounted for 21 percent of the total number of foreclosures or approximately 94 foreclosures per census tract. In comparison, neighborhoods with 25 percent or less African American homeownership rates account for 63 percent of the total number of census tracts in the region; these tracts accounted for 45 percent of the total number of foreclosures, or roughly 38 foreclosures per census tract. Given the fact that there are three times as many white homeowners in the region as there are African American, the concentration of foreclosures in predominantly African American neighborhoods is reason for serious consideration as to the future wealth building opportunities provided to minorities in our region.
Map 6: Childhood Poverty and School Segregation
“Diversity” was measured using an algorithm measuring the racial/ethnic makeup of each elementary school in the region against the racial/ethnic makeup of the same regional cohort; the algorithm was then used to highlight school districts with the lowest levels of racial/ethnic diversity, shown in cross-hatch on the map.
The intention of Brown v. Board of Education have yet to be fully realized in our region due in large part to our segregated housing patterns. The least diverse schools in the city of Richmond and Henrico County are 97 percent African American whereas the least diverse schools in Chesterfield County are 82 percent white. The race and/or ethnicity of the student body bears no correlation to educational outcomes, however in Richmond segregation mirrors poverty, and poverty plays a contributing role in educational outcomes. The least racially/ethnically diverse schools in Chesterfield are found in census tracts that have an average of just 0.8 percent of the school age population living below poverty. The least diverse schools in Richmond and Henrico are located in census tracts where an average of 11.6 percent of the school age population lives below poverty. Five census tracts within these school districts have greater than 20 percent of the children living in poverty.
School performance varies greatly between these different districts. Using 3rd grade Standards of Learning (SOL) data to measure educational outcomes highlights the fact that the children of our region continue to suffer the effects of concentrated poverty. On average, 3rd graders in the least diverse, low poverty schools in Chesterfield achieved pass rates of 93 percent on their SOL tests while students in the least diverse, high poverty schools in the Richmond and Henrico achieved on average, just 71 percent. Advanced pass rates show 48 percent of students in Chesterfield passed their SOL tests at an advanced level while just 18 percent in Richmond and Henrico did the same.
Map 7: Opportunity Map
Where You Live Makes All the Difference: An Opportunity Map of the Richmond Region provides a unique, housing-focused perspective to the socio-economic dynamics of the region. Housing is the centerpiece of opportunity; where you live fundamentally influences your ability to gain access to the resources needed for success. We measured opportunity by equally weighing, and then mapping, 22 wide-ranging socio-economic variables to measure how access to transportation, education, health, and credit is impacted by the geographic location of where one lives.
The majority of the city of Richmond and a good portion of central Henrico County are classified as very low opportunity. As the preceding maps have shown, these are the same neighborhoods that were redlined beginning in the 1930’s. These are the same neighborhoods that were targeted for public housing project developments in the 1950’s and 1960’s and whose residents continue to suffer from the effects of intergenerational poverty. Most recently these neighborhoods were extended unsustainable, subprime loans at a disproportionate rate and subsequently experienced a disparate number of foreclosures.
The vitality of our region is dependent upon ensuring that as many people as possible, regardless of skin color or income level, have access to those opportunity factors that allow them to build their families up, not continue to keep them down. The Richmond region will only be able to move forward by addressing housing as a gateway to opportunity. By adopting a regional perspective that places the quality of life of all of the regions residents first, we believe the necessary linkages between housing, education, jobs, and transportation will emerge.