Louisville Magazine

MAR 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/791253

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Page 59 of 112

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.17 57 Dividing Lines Redlining in the late 1930s — and the ugly legacy Louisville lives with today. By Anne Marshall Railroad tracks, a creek, a tree- lined four-lane parkway — those operate as obvious lines marking one neighborhood from the next. For most of us, those stand as satisfactory explana- tions as to how a metropolis can still feel cozy, intimate. is is my 'hood. Urban planners like Joshua Poe need more. e trim 40-year-old with an earnest face and neat goatee may just be kin to the question mark. As a kid, he couldn't take a ride down a one-way street without wondering, Why is it here? Who decided it was a good idea? Poe currently works as project manager at YouthBuild, which teaches construction skills to low-income kids, and before that he studied and worked for years as an urban planner in Louisville. In February, he made the media rounds for a project he worked on titled "Redlining Louisville: e History of Race, Class, and Real Estate," which exposes the city's redlining maps from the 1930s. Metro government helped Poe with funding to finish the project. And as of last month, the Office of Redevelopment Strategies now hosts the report — complete with interactive maps — on its website. Redlining refers to the practice of denying loans in certain neighborhoods based heavily on socioeconomic and racial makeup, rather than strictly physical or structural characteristics. It happened in hundreds of cities, big and small. Poe's project illustrates how many neighbor- hoods that were targeted for disinvestment now still shoulder poverty, low property values and a greater percentage of mort- gage denials than other parts of Jefferson County. Poe's curiosity about redlining dates back to 2011, while he was working on his master's in urban planning. Poe was close to the late J. Blaine Hudson, a longtime University of Louisville educator and prominent voice in the African-American community. Poe recalls how the two would often talk over cigarettes about social jus- tice, segregation and zoning laws that rele- gate most industrial land and multi-family units to poor neighborhoods. Hudson urged Poe to the find the redlining maps. It wasn't easy. Redlining maps were kept private for decades and it has been just within the last few years that scholars have started digitizing them, making them available to the public. e Filson Historical Society, U of L — no- body Poe initially contacted knew where the maps existed. Finally, in 2013, now no longer a student, Poe found them at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. A father of three on a tight budget, and at this point working on the project independently after work hours, he had to borrow the $200 it cost to get copies of the maps sent to Louisville. Redlining is in no way the only discriminatory practice in Ameri- ca's history. But it's a big one. In 1933, the Home Owner's Loan Corporation (HOLC) was created to make home own- ership more widely available to Americans during the Great Depression. HOLC hired local real-estate experts to create "residen- tial securities maps" to assess risk. ose maps are what are now known as redlining maps. e system ranked and color-coded neighborhoods on a four-tier scale — "A" through "D." e lowest-quality areas were shaded in a pinkish-red — the color of flushed cheeks — and almost always

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