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In 1940, a white developer wanted to build a neighborhood in Detroit.

So he asked the US Federal Housing Administration to back a loan. The FHA, which was created just six years earlier to help middle-class families buy homes, said no because the development was too close to an “inharmonious” racial group.

 

Meaning black people.

It wasn’t surprising. The housing administration refused to back loans to black people — and even people who lived around black people. FHA said it was too risky.

So the next year, this white developer had an idea: What if he built a 6-foot-tall, half-mile-long wall between the black neighborhood and his planned neighborhood? Is that enough separation to mitigate risk and get his loan?

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When he did that, the housing administration backed the loan.

That was 75 years ago, but this type of racist housing policy helped create two divergent Americas

These policies are typically called redlining, in that they drew a bright red line between the areas where black families could and couldn’t get loans.

Redlining poisoned the mortgage market for black people. It meant that black families were systematically forced to live in separate neighborhoods.

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We often talk about increasing wealth inequality, with the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. That’s certainly a problem, but something we should be even more concerned about is what is happening to our neighborhoods. There are now more extremely poor neighborhoods and more extremely rich neighborhoods.

We’re seeing two divergent Americas, one with money, and one without — and the one without is largely black. And the residents of that America are increasingly living in neighborhoods of extreme poverty, where 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line.

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These are neighborhoods that struggle with high rates of crime, unemployment, and community health issues.

As it turns out, living in poor neighborhoods isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a huge factor in what our lives — and our children’s lives — turn out to be.

Research shows it’s like breathing in bad air; the more you’re exposed to it, the more it hurts you. And it isn’t just because of the lack of opportunity. It’s that living in these distressed areas changes your brain — and your kids’ brains.

And that’s what this cartoon is about: why it matters that black Americans have continued to be stuck in the poorest neighborhoods, even decades after the civil rights movement.

Continue Reading at: http://www.vox.com/2016/6/6/11852640/cartoon-poor-neighborhoods

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