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On top of wealth and education disparities, neighborhoods that were historically barred from mortgage lending due to redlining practices in the early 20th century continue to face “significantly” higher rates of chronic illness than non-redlined communities. This health disparity makes their residents more vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19, according to a study of historically redlined neighborhoods from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Richmond.

The NCRC study found that rates of asthma, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and obesity were significantly higher in redlined areas when compared with areas that were marked as “best” on the color-coded lending maps. Furthermore, the life expectancy in redlined areas was lower by 3.6 years versus these other neighborhoods.

Those chronic health conditions are believed to make it more likely that a patient with COVID-19 could experience a more severe illness or complications.

“What struck me when we began this study were the stark differences in life expectancy of neighborhoods of the same city only a mile or so apart,” said Bruce Mitchell, NCRC’s senior analyst and one of the study’s co-authors. “The deeper our analysis went, it became more apparent that the segregation and disinvestment imposed by redlining are associated with concentrated disadvantage and terrible health outcomes for communities of color in American cities.”

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