Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Editorial, 10/24: Applaud city for new push to fix past ills of redlining

Editorial, 10/24: Applaud city for new push to fix past ills of redlining

  • 0
Redlining map

In 1916, Sheridan Boulevard became the first area in Lincoln to introduce race restrictions, with a covenant stipulating only “those of the Caucasian race” could buy homes there.

In 1924, race clauses were introduced in Piedmont, and the Brownbilt area south of Randolph School at 37th and D streets had purchase agreements that banned the sale of properties to “Africans, Chinese or Japanese” from the 1930s through the 1950s.

By the mid-1930s, maps divided the city into sections, rating the level of risk for real estate agents, deeming the part of the city where Black families lived as “hazardous.”

That practice, known as “redlining” and other housing discrimination, such as landlords not renting to undesirable tenants -- who just happened to be Black -- continued well into the 1980s, and its systemic racism still lingers in the city.

“When we review the redline map of the 1930s and recent minority population and poverty trends, we see, almost 100 years later, it’s the same map,” reads the city’s 2050 planning document. “The redlining of other people of color is still visible today.”

To that end, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey found that median income for households of color in Lancaster County is 15% to 47% less than white households and that fewer than 23% of Black families and 38% of Latino households own their homes, compared to nearly 64% of white households.

To put it directly, the effects of the racist development policies of the past cannot be overlooked or brushed aside and must be acknowledged by the citizenry and addressed by city development plans and policies, now and into the future.

The Planning Department is doing just that, using history to inform decisions as it drafts the Lincoln-Lancaster County 2050 Comprehensive Plan.

Addressing that history means it is imperative that the plan includes affordable units in as many housing projects as possible in all areas of the city and finding ways to create mixed housing options, particularly in areas where, without any zoning ordinances requiring it, only single-family homes are built.

The history-based planning should attempt to create “complete neighborhoods,” with mixed-housing options and nearby services, such as grocery stores and banks, along with schools, parks and swimming pools with easy access to all neighborhood residents, regardless of their income or housing status.

Those kind of plans will likely meet with some resistance from those who want to continue to develop new, single-family neighborhoods on the edges of the city and consign multi-family units and commit few development resources to the center of the city, essentially continuing to redline without the maps and explicit policy.

That resistance, however, must be overcome for Lincoln to move equitably into the future and begin to put away the institutional racism of its past.


Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News