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You are here: Home / Urban Forest Connections Webinars / Redlining's Intensifying Harm: Rising Temperatures, Hotter Neighborhoods, and How Trees Can Help

Redlining's Intensifying Harm: Rising Temperatures, Hotter Neighborhoods, and How Trees Can Help

Historic map of Minneapolis, Minnesota with residential districts shaded by different colors.
National Archives

Redlining's Intensifying Harm: Rising Temperatures, Hotter Neighborhoods, and How Trees Can Help
August 12, 2020

Vivek Shandas, Portland State University
Cate Mingoya, Groundwork, USA

Many are well aware of the inequitable distribution of trees in our urban areas. Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities often face the greatest burden of heat, air pollution, and flooding - all of which urban greening can help to mitigate. These inequitable patterns and the related persistent disparities in human health are an enduring legacy of various forms of housing segregation, which were officially legal through the late 1960s. In this presentation, Dr. Vivek Shandas will provide a summary of one pernicious and federally sponsored urban planning policy officially begun in the 1930s -- redlining -- and the current day implications on the distribution of tree canopy, extreme urban heat, and the quality of life for those historically underserved communities. Cate Mingoya will discuss the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership and how residents are working to intervene in municipal planning systems to ensure a more equitable distribution of climate mitigation resources.


View the webinar podcast »

Sump Pumps, Racism, and Your Electricity Bill: Redlining’s Role in Environmental Injustice and What to Do About it
Cate Mingoya
Director of Capacity Building
Groundwork USA

Undoing Landscape Legacies
Vivek Shandas
Portland State University


Resources Mentioned in the Webinar

Climate Safe Neighborhoods
What does housing discrimination have to do with climate change? Explore how Groundwork communities are using maps and data to build resilience to extreme heat and flooding.

Can we turn down the temperature on urban heat islands?
Using citizen science volunteers, researchers are more accurately measuring temperature differences between city hot spots and their cooler surroundings. With heat waves intensifying, the results are now being used to develop a range of innovative urban planning strategies.

Summer in the City Is Hot, but Some Neighborhoods Suffer More
New research shows that temperatures on a scorching summer day can vary as much as 20 degrees across different parts of the same city, with poor or minority neighborhoods often bearing the brunt of that heat.

Past Racist “Redlining” Practices Increased Climate Burden on Minority Neighborhoods
Such areas face a disproportionate risk of heat-related impacts and exposure to air pollution

How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering
In the 1930s, federal officials redlined neighborhoods in Richmond, VA, marking them as risky investments because residents were Black. Today, they are some of the hottest parts of town in the summer, with few trees and an abundance of heat-trapping pavement.

US Forest Service Resources

Vibrant Cities Lab: Equity
The wealth of a community can often be determined by its amount of tree canopy. Well-intentioned tree planting programs often exacerbate this divide.

The Legacy Effect: Understanding How Segregation and Environmental Injustice Unfold over Time in Baltimore
Legacies of social and environmental injustices can leave an imprint on the present and constrain transitions for more sustainable futures. In this article, we ask this question: What is the relationship of environmental inequality and histories of segregation?

Doing the hard work where it's easiest? Examining the relationships between urban greening programs and social and ecological characteristics
In this paper we examine the performance of formal programs associated with tree plantings in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD to understand the relationships between the implementation of urban greening programs and the social and ecological characteristics of a city.