NEXT TELLER PLE POSE -+ The wrong side of town By Jeannette Brown and Eric Hartman Austin In the neighborhoods of urban Texas where the houses are relatively old, where the people are relatively poor and a disproportionate number are brown or black, where city services are worst, the mortgage lenders have gone on strike. They have, by and large, simply stopped making home purchase and home improvement loans. The lenders say they have no choice, their business is to invest other people’s money at a profit, these neighborhoods are in decline, and investing in them is a poor risk. The residents say the lenders do have a choice, that systematic discrimination against loan applicants from these neighborhoods is a cause, not .a consequence, of decline, and they have a name for the practiceredlining. Redlining used to be a literal description of the way the ban on loans to certain areas of a city was enforcedloan officers at banks and savings and loan associations were instructed to refuse to lend to people from parts of town marked in red on the city map. Nowadays the practice is subtler, but evidence has been piling up for several years to document the abandonment of older, minority-populated neighborhoods by Texas lenders. And the pattern stands out on the maps of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and other Texas cities just as starkly as if the red pencil were still in use. The evidence has been provided by the lenders themselves under the compulsion of the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975, which requires them to reveal the geographic distribution and dollar amounts of loans made each year. The law was pushed through to enactment by community groups and fair housing activists in the North and East, led by the Chicago-based National People’s Action organization. However, the lending patterns revealed by the law show that Texas’ financial institutions are operating according to the same tried and untrue prejudices that influence their brethren in other states. In January 1977 the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Texas at Ar THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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