It is impossible to understand racial segregation, intergenerational poverty, and the continued wealth gap in the US without knowledge of the history of redlining.


Redlining began in the 1930s as part of the New Deal policies created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. In 1934, the Roosevelt administration set up the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Its aim was to make it easier for low-income people to afford homes by introducing 30-year mortgages and low-fixed interests rates.

At the same time, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) was created to let banks know where it would be safe to invest their money.


Throughout the 1930s, the HOLC created residential security maps of 239 cities, where they color-coded neighborhoods according to their "creditworthiness and risk." Neighborhoods were colored:

  • green for “best”

  • blue for “still desirable”

  • yellow for “definitely declining”

  • red for “hazardous”


One of the most defining features of the "redlined" areas was the presence of "foreign-born people” "low-class whites,” and “negroes.” Residents were denied home loans and redlined communities were denied investments.

Click on the links on the left for HOLC Maps on New York City and New Jersey neighborhoods.