For many of us, we have choices regarding our health: access to fresh food & clean water, options for household location, and access to green space or nature, for example. But for some communities, these choices of individual and family health are far more limited and create a culture of survival rather than enjoyment or experimentation of a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps not surprisingly, policy decisions can play a large role in these choices. And in some cases, policy from days gone by oftentimes continues to affect communities in present day. To take a closer look at this connection between history and health, let's compare Cuyahoga County’s historical redlining map to a racial density map derived from the 2010 US Census.
“Redlining” is the unethical practice (in this case regarding real estate) of discriminating against residents and refusing financial service, based on where the resident lives. Commonly, residents within a certain area will be subjected to the systematic denial of financial services (mortgages, insurance, or loans) based on address rather than individual qualifications or credit history. The map of Redlining in Cuyahoga County depicts the community sectioned into four security ratings; green areas were deemed the most “safe,” and red deemed the most “dangerous.” The practice of redlining was made illegal through the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
To read the complete blog article, including how community organizations and partnerships are working to create better opportunities and health equity, click here.
|Lauren Vargo is a program coordinator in Cuyahoga County.|