Formerly Redlined Neighborhoods Linked to Hotter Temps

January 21, 2020

A new study of 108 urban areas nationwide suggests the temperature of a neighborhood could correlate to a disturbing history. Researchers have connected the temperature to a discriminatory, race-based housing practice prevalent in the past.

Higher heat indicated a greater likelihood of redlined neighborhoods, many of which are still struggling economically today from decades of underinvestment, according to the study from Portland State University, the Science Museum of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Researchers say that these formerly redlined neighborhoods were found to be hotter than non-redlined neighborhoods. Redlining was a process through which banks and governments would rate neighborhoods to help mortgage lenders determine which areas of the city were considered risky. Maps were created and neighborhoods shaded based on what was categorized as “hazardous.” NPR reports that risk level was mostly determined at the time by the number of immigrants and African Americans who lived there.

Researchers found the impact in these areas continues to linger, including in the temperature. Nearly 90 years after the maps were created, redlined neighborhoods were found to be hotter by an average of almost 5 degrees, the study finds.

Redlining graph. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

© Portland State University, the Science Museum of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University.

“It was very surprising when we saw that it was a pattern that we were seeing consistently across the country,” Vivek Shandas, co-author of the study and professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University, told NPR. “Those communities are much more likely to face grave consequences in terms of their human health, their financial health, or generally their ability to cope with these effects.”

Shandas told NPR that the heat patterns they observed in the study were likely due to more concrete and fewer trees and green spaces. Past research has shown that formerly redlined neighborhoods tend to have about half as many trees as predominantly white neighborhoods.

“Research on environmental justice has yet to really try to understand how systems are at work that may cause inequities,” Morgan Grove, a research scientist at the Forest Service’s Baltimore Field Station, told NPR. “There are these explanations that require understanding history to understand why we see what we see today in cities.”