Learning Resources

Not Even Past: Social Vulnerability and the Legacy of Redlining

What are the long-term effects of New Deal housing policies on people’s health today?

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Common Core:
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
C3 Framework:
D2.His.3.6-8. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to analyze why they developed, and the developments they shaped, are seen as historically significant.
D2.His.3.9-12. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.

National Council for Social Studies:

National Geography Standards: 
Standard 1 - How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information
Standard 12 - The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement

EAD Framework
Theme: Institutional and Social Transformation 
Design Challenge: Motivating Agency, Sustaining the Republic

Teacher Tip: Think about what students should be able to KNOW, UNDERSTAND and DO at the conclusion of this learning experience. A brief exit pass or other formative assessment may be used to assess student understandings. Setting specific learning targets for the appropriate grade level and content area will increase student success. 

Suggested Grade Levels: High School (9-12)

Suggested Timeframe: 2-3 class periods of 45–50 minutes each

Suggested Materials: Internet access via laptop, tablet, or mobile device

Key Vocabulary

Census tract - a region defined by the Census Bureau for population analysis

Demographic metrics - statistics that reflect the characteristics of a population

Generalization -  a broad claim arrived at after bringing together specific examples 

Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) - an agency created in 1933 by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal that attempted to prevent foreclosures by refinancing home mortgages in default; created a color-coded grading system that assessed the credit-worthiness of city neighborhoods

Public health - the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, policy-making, and research

Redlining - the practice of mortgage lenders drawing red lines around portions of a map to indicate areas or neighborhoods considered to be high risk for loan default 

Social vulnerability - a community's exposure to  potential  external stresses on human health

Social Vulnerability Index - a measurement of social vulnerability using U.S. Census data

Read for Understanding

Teacher Tips:

 At the time this Learning Resource was published, the COVID-19 global pandemic was impacting schools and communities around the world. Keeping this in mind, the team at New American History embedded language in the body of the text to help adapt to a variety of educational settings, including remote learning environments, face-to-face instruction, and blended learning.

If you are teaching remotely, consider using videoconferencing to provide opportunities for students to work in partners or small groups. Digital tools such as Padlet or Jamboard may also be used for collaboration. Rewordify and WordTuneRead help make complex texts more accessible for those reading at a lower Lexile level while still providing a greater depth of knowledge. 

This Learning Resource uses maps from the research project Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America. The maps capture the color-coded system created in the 1930s by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to determine which city neighborhoods were good credit risks for home loans. The HOLC data helped set the rules for 100 years of real estate practice and helps explain the social and economic inequality that has existed in U.S. cities since the Great Depression. As a companion to “Mapping Inequality,” this resource also uses “Not Even Past,” which is a digital mapping project exploring the connections between redlining and long-term public health outcomes. Prior to teaching this lesson, you may wish to use the learning resource on Mapping Inequality with your students. They will need to be familiar with the concept of redlining as well as with the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) 

This learning resource also uses instructional strategies and resources from Facing History (Analyzing Images), Project Zero (Connect, Extend, Challenge), EduProtocols (Sketch and Tell), Bunk (an annotated collection, “Redlining Is Only Part of the Story”), an image from the Library of Congress collection, and graphic organizers created in Google Docs. Additional strategies including Sketchnotes and creating infographics are also included for data visualization and arts integration.

Note: As is noted in the introductory essay to “Not Even Past,” the historical documents from the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation express racist ideas and contain offensive racist language. 

These Learning Resources follow a variation of the 5Es instructional model, and each section may be taught as a separate learning experience, or as part of a sequence of learning experiences. We provide each of our Learning Resources in multiple formats, including web-based and as an editable Google Doc for educators to teach and adapt selected learning experiences as they best suit the needs of your students and local curriculum. You may also wish to embed or remix them into a playlist for students working remotely or independently.


What is the connection between where we live and our physical health? 

To think more about the connections between where we live and how healthy we are, you will analyze the image below from the Library of Congress collection. Using the Analyzing Images protocol from Facing History, your teacher will lead you in a discussion about the photograph. 

  1. Spend some time carefully examining the photograph. Take note of people, objects, messages, landmarks, etc. 
  2. Write down everything you see without any analysis. Just list what you see. 
  3. What questions do you have about the image that if you knew the answers, would help you interpret the photograph? 
  4. Turn and talk to a neighbor or two to try to find some of those answers. 
  5. Why do you think this photograph was taken and is now in the Library of Congress collection? What do you think was significant about this event?  
  6. In a whole class discussion, share your interpretation of the photo while referring to specific aspects of the image as well as the historical context you know. 

How does this 1967 photograph help us understand the connection between where we live and our physical health?

Your teacher may ask you to record your answers on an exit ticket. 


What is the connection between government policies and long-term health outcomes? 

During the 1930s, the federal government established the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) to help lenders make informed decisions about the creditworthiness of homeowners during the Great Depression. The HOLC created color-coded maps of cities across the country, grading each neighborhood according to how risky it was deemed for banks to offer loans there. Neighborhoods coded red were considered to be the riskiest investment for mortgage lenders. This system effectively disadvantaged areas predominantly inhabited by Black residents, immigrants, and certain ethnic groups. This practice later came to be known as “redlining.” 

Listen to this NPR story about how the redlining policies of the past affect the present, and complete this listening guide as you follow along.

Spend some time exploring the history of redlining as depicted in the digital scholarship project Mapping Inequality, and other connections in Bunk.

You may explore the Bunk tag for “redlining” in the connections card view, or search a geospatial view, by selecting “View on Map.”  

  • Do you prefer one view over the other? 
  • How is each of these views the same? 
  • How are they different?
  • Which view helps you understand redlining in a new or different way?

Your teacher may ask you to record your answers on an exit ticket. 


How does access to affordable housing and healthcare improve the overall quality of life from one generation to the next?

  • “Not Even Past” is a digital mapping project exploring the connections between redlining and long-term public health outcomes. It uses the Centers for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), which measures how well a community can prepare for, respond to, and recover from human and natural disasters. Examining this data reveals patterns across communities, which can be the first step toward equitable solutions for various public health problems.

Navigate to the “Not Even Past” project and spend some time reading the introduction. Answer the questions below. 

  • What does the introduction to “Not Even Past” make clear about the effect of racial residential segregation on health? 
  • What data does the “Not Even Past” digital mapping project compare? 
  • When you select a city/town, what map will be on the left side? What map will be on the right side? 
  • What does the diagram between the maps show? 

Revisit the “Operation Breathe Free” photograph you analyzed earlier in the Engage portion of this learning resource. Continue your thinking about the connection between where we live and our physical health. 

Next, below the introduction, you will choose a few cities to learn more about. The cities in this menu correspond to those that were mapped by the Home Owners Loan Corporation and that you previously considered in the Explore section of this learning resource.

Once you have selected 2-3 cities to explore, complete this graphic organizer to further analyze the legacy of redlining on social vulnerability. 

Your teacher may ask you to record your answers on an exit ticket.


What connections might we make between redlining and current public health crises in the present day?

Visit this annotated collection of resources on Bunk that helps explain the long history of housing discrimination.

In the narrative that accompanies the collection of resources, Dr. Julian Maxwell Hayter writes: 

“It wasn’t merely the federal government that segregated America. The real estate industry, private lenders, city planners, and even institutions of higher education also helped reinforce the biases that characterize housing discrimination. Vulnerable communities still feel the impacts of this profitable disinvestment in vast and far-reaching ways.”

Julian Maxwell Hayter, PhD., historian in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond

As you read the narrative by Dr. Hayter, look for the connections between segregationist housing policies and the date you explored on the map using the social vulnerability index. Then, choose one of the articles he includes in the Bunk collection that relates to public health to read and analyze.

When you finish reading the article you chose, complete this Connect, Extend, Challenge graphic organizer to help you process your thinking. 

Your teacher may ask you to record your answers on an exit ticket. 


Now that we know, what do we do about it? 

The reading you have done points to some of the ways that urban environments affect the health of their residents. Richmond, Virginia resident Torey Edmonds was interviewed in the NPR story you listened to about the health effects of housing discrimination. At the conclusion of the segment, she said:

“We talk about it, we research it, and my question is, now that we know… what do we do about it?”

Richmond, Virginia resident Torey Edmonds

What is an issue in your community that affects people’s health? With support from your teacher, search local news outlets for stories about public health in your area. Create an infographic or SketchQuote/SketchNotes that you can share to inform the public about the local issue you select. Canva and Visme are free apps with many templates that may help you get started, or you might design one using Google Slides

We would love to see your work! Share your infographic, SketchQuote, or SketchNotes with us at editor@newamericanhistory.org, or tag us on Twitter @NewAmericanHist or Instagram @newamericanhistory. 

Your teacher may ask you to record your answers on an exit ticket. 


Black, Matthew. The masked "Operation Breathe Free" motorcade prior to departure from South Beach, S.I. / World Journal Tribune photograph by Matthew Black. New York, 1967. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/98515556/.

Digital Scholarship Lab. “Mapping Inequality,” American Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed July 20, 2022, https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining.

Digital Scholarship Lab, “Not Even Past: Social Vulnerability and the Legacy of Redlining,” American Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed July 21, 2022, https://dsl.richmond.edu/socialvulnerability/.

Godoy, Maria. “In U.S. Cities, the Health Effects of Past Housing Discrimination Are Plain to See.” NPR. NPR, November 19, 2020. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/11/19/911909187/in-u-s-cities-the-health-effects-of-past-housing-discrimination-are-plain-to-see.

Hayter, Julian Maxwell. “Redlining Is Only Part of the Story.” Bunk. New American History, October 5, 2022. https://www.bunkhistory.org/resources/10722.

Love, Christina. “What is an infographic?” TechnoKids Blog. TechnoKids, April 16, 2020. https://www.technokids.com/blog/desktop-publishing/what-is-an-infographic/.

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