The History and Legacy of Redlining in Michigan: Tools for Moving from Exclusivity to Inclusivity
Date & Time
Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Researchers and specialists with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension have developed a comprehensive website detailing the history and legacy of racist housing policies in Michigan through former federally-mandated redlining practices. Created through President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) “Underwriting Manual†directed government appraisers to specifically deem neighborhoods with residents of color, or those proximal to residents of color, as “hazardous†to investment. Risk maps following these redlining protocols were created for nearly all cities with populations over 40,000, grading neighborhoods as “best,†“still desirable,†“declining†and “hazardous.†The declining and hazardous designations were often solely based on the race of its residents, regardless of their household incomes or single-family home status. The goal of this website has been to provide factual information to Michigan residents and policymakers in order to start meaningful conversations confronting the injustice and inequality that remains in our cities today, at least in part, as a result of this history. Relatedly, since its creation, zoning has been used to create separation – separation of land uses, separation of activities, separation of individuals. This separation has had many benefits for communities, including public health, economic development, and environmental protection, but it has also resulted in patterns of development that exclude some uses and individuals from areas of our communities. Today, many Michigan communities are more racially and economically segregated than at any point in their history. Mixed-use development patterns are being applied more frequently in communities to provide variety in housing types and to reinvigorate downtowns. However, the single-family residential zoning district remains a pocket of exclusivity. These exclusive single-family neighborhoods have created challenges for communities in providing housing variety that is affordable for the entire range of community socio-economic levels. Given needs in communities for diversity of housing options, both in type and cost, these single-family residential zones may be areas of opportunity for innovative and inclusive land use strategies. This presentation will provide strategies for creating more inclusive zoning.

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