Undesign the Redline

Where a person lives matters—a zip code can provide a shockingly accurate prediction of a person's likely economic, health, education, and life outcomes. The Fair Housing Act of 1968, officially known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, made it illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities, based on a person's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Yet 50 years after the passage of this landmark legislation, housing remains segregated by race and income in many neighborhoods across the United States. Racial minorities and people with lower incomes disproportionately live in neighborhoods that lack basic amenities and pathways to economic mobility, what many people think of as the American dream.

Why is this the case? Why do neighborhoods of racially concentrated poverty persist? Many people believe that today's residential patterns are inevitable. They posit that this "de facto segregation" reflects private market forces and personal choices at play, not something intentional or nefarious. However, in his 2017 publication, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, author Richard Rothstein provides extensive and compelling evidence to the contrary. His rigorous analysis leads him to conclude that the residential segregation that persists today is the direct result of decades of explicit government policies designed to target African Americans specifically.

To learn more about the history of housing segregation in the United States, come visit the Atlanta Fed's Monetary Museum to see a special, interactive exhibit called Undesign the Redline. The temporary installation, designed by designing the WE, features powerful stories of individuals and communities affected by redlining and its legacy.

Undesign the Redline will travel to cities across the country. The Atlanta Fed exhibit was installed in conjunction with a fair housing event the Bank cohosted in November 2018. The Monetary Museum will host the exhibit through Friday, January 3, 2020.

The Monetary Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.