What Redlining Looks Like: City Life/Vida Urbana Takes to the Streets to Outline Housing Discrimination
Part performance art, part public education, the Arts Committee of City Life/Vida Urbana literally drew a line down Washington Street Saturday afternoon to show what housing discrimination looks like. Drawing on the 1934 policy of the Federal Housing Administration not to underwrite mortgages in areas they determined were poor risks, CL/VU recreated the red line that the FHA drew in residential areas marking the boundaries of where they would not grant housing mortgages. In the words of Lawrence J. Vale in his book From the Puritans to the Projects, ( 2000) the FHA "gave federal sanction to a long history of housing prejudice [in which] it enforced the homogeneity of neighborhoods exclusive of [what it described as] undeserved people." Charles Abrams in his 1955 book Forbidden Neighbors stated that as of 1952, "98% of the 3 million home mortgages issued by the FHA went only to white homeowners". This policy created the pattern of urban and suburban life for three generations.