President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Home Owner's Loan Corporation (HOLC) as part of the New Deal to provide loans that would enable citizens to buy homes. Between 1935 and 1945, the HOLC, in partnership with mortgage lenders, housing developers, and real estate appraisers, assessed and mapped the relative risk of providing home loans to individuals looking to purchase homes in different neighborhoods. Race played a central role in the HOLC's conception of the riskiness of a neighborhood; as a result, white homeowners were able to gain low-interest mortgages from the HOLC that black and Latino homeowners were largely denied. Scholars from the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab, the University of Maryland's College of Information Sciences ("iSchool"), and Virginia Tech, in collaboration with historian N.B.D. Connelly, have collaborated to digitize these maps alongside census information from 1930 and 1940. Visitors to this website can explore how different neighborhoods were "graded" by the HOLC and read area descriptions, authored by HOLC appraisers, for individual neighborhoods. Mapping Inequality currently includes 150 HOLC maps and over 5,000 descriptions. This project offers considerable insight into the history, sociology, and economics of American cities.
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