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Mapping the Continuing Culture of Disinvestment in Baltimore's Black Neighborhoods

If the city seems hardwired for racial strife and segregation, that’s partly because the banks have programmed it that way, finds a new study.
A man walks past a boarded-up row of houses as rain falls in Baltimore
A man walks past a boarded-up row of houses as rain falls in BaltimoreAP Photo/Patrick Semansky

If Baltimore seems hardwired for racial strife and segregation, that’s partly because the banks there have programmed it that way. Baltimore has a long history of redlining, in which financial institutions refuse to offer housing loans or insurance in African-American neighborhoods. That redlining legacy has continued running in the background, like an app Baltimore forgot to close, and as a result “the economic circumstances in Baltimore are an anomaly,” compared to other cities, according to a new report from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC).

Members of this coalition analyzed housing and banking data in Baltimore from 2011 to 2013 and found that lenders were much stingier with mortgage loans for those trying to buy homes Baltimore’s majority African-American neighborhoods. In fact, it’s been easier for people of modest incomes to secure home loans in whiter and wealthier neighborhoods in neighboring counties than it is to get loans to buy homes in Baltimore’s black communities.