Loan risks may no longer be assessed on color-coded maps that redline minority communities, but the practice of refusing to lend to potential buyers in those neighborhoods is still commonplace.
During their investigation for the 2021 WFAA series Banking Below 30, Jason Trahan and David Schechter (who is now on the environmental beat with CBS) discovered that nearly 20 percent of banks in Dallas routinely refuse to lend to residents in minority neighborhoods below I-30. Trahan will provide an overview of their findings on October 19 as part of a collaboration between Big D Reads: The Accommodation and the Dallas Media Collaborative.
In the 1930s through the early 1960s, banks determined the level of loan risks for mortgages with federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation maps. Neighborhoods with significant minority populations, labeled in red, were identified as hazardous to lenders. Neighborhoods marked green were considered low risk, blue ones were “still desirable,” and yellow ones were “declining.” Redlining may not be as obvious now but it still happens, which is what the WFAA series explains. While 20 percent of banks won’t lend south of I-30, the station’s team found that banks often claim that they’re investing in minority neighborhoods by buying into low-income housing developments (most often apartment complexes) to get government tax credits.
They also use those investments to show bank regulators that they’re reinvesting in low-income communities. WFAA’s investigation found that banks own or have owned at least 50 such developments in Dallas, and that regulators are often complicit in failing to enforce laws that require those apartment complexes to provide safe, affordable homes.
At Wednesday’s event, following his overview of what modern-day redlining looks like, Trahan will lead a panel discussion about other ways redlining is still enforced with The Accommodation author Jim Schutze, SMU professor Barbara Minsker (who recently mapped and studied infrastructure deserts in Dallas), and Southern Dallas Progress president James McGee.
The event starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane. It is hosted by Dallas Media Collaborative, a group of Dallas-area news outlets, universities, and nonprofits that are using solutions journalism to examine affordable housing. (D is a member of the collaborative.) Register here.