Homes In Redlined Areas Face Greater Flood Risks From Climate Change: Study

The discriminatory practice known as redlining is having a lasting impact on predominantly Black homeowners and residents who live in these districts. According to a new study by the real estate brokerage firm Redfin, homes in redlined areas face a greater risk of flooding as a result of climate change. 

The study, released Monday (March 15), says the homes in these areas are worth a combined total of $107 billion and are 25% more likely to be flooded than homes that are not in redlined areas. 

The practice of redlining emerged during the 1930s and beyond as a way for banks to keep Black Americans in particular areas. They did this by denying Black people loans for homes outside of particular areas that were deemed less desirable considering they were homes built in higher flood risk areas. 

According to a report by CNN, climate change has increased the sea level to rise and as a result put homes in redlined areas at greater risk. 

“The discrimination that happened in the past may seem like it happened a long time ago, but it compounds,” Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said in an interview with CNN Business. “It’s not like the historical practices that were discriminatory diminished in effect. It seems like they actually increase in effect.”

The firm’s study found that homes not located in redlined areas had $85 billion worth of homes at risk for being damaged by flooding resulting from climate change. That’s $22 billion less than redlined neighborhoods. The study found that 58% “of households in neighborhoods that were once designated undesirable for mortgage lending are non-white.” 

The aftermath of storms like Hurricane Katrina, and ongoing environmental racism Black neighborhoods and communities face, the study found, is not by chance; redlining continues to play a role in who is impacted in times of emergencies. “History has shown that when storms hit, communities of color in these formerly redlined areas often suffer the most,” the report said. 

Just last month in Texas, Black neighborhoods were hit with power outages first and for longer periods of time compared to other neighborhoods. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey also had a disproportionate effect on Black neighborhoods, several reports found. 

Fairweather believes the implications of the study’s findings could further widen the wealth gap between white and Black households without help from the private or public sectors. “It would set us back for sure,” Fairweather said. “It really does depend on what the policy response is.” 

The study’s recommendations included funding for homeowners in redlined areas to better protect their homes from extreme weather, as well as provide financial assistance to homeowners in places where additional waterproof protection might not suffice for current climate change weather patterns. 

“When we do provide assistance for people to move,” Fairweather added, “we should encourage them or insist they move to places that won’t be as affected by climate change.” 

Photo Credit: Getty Images 

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