'A page-turner, chock full of riveting and shocking stories and vivid, unforgettable characters...'
'A blockbuster book, full of memorable characters, dramatic choices, and tragic policy failures...'
'A great, exhaustively researched account...'
During the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration bailed out more than one million homeowners who were in danger of losing their homes. It also prepared real estate risk maps for 239 U.S. cities, with the aim of preventing the exposure of lenders to bad loans in the future. Neighborhoods in those cities were assessed according to the age and condition of housing stock but also on the basis of their residents’ race, ethnicity, religion, economic status and homogeneity.
An interview with Antero Pietila
What is your book about?
It’s about how race shaped the cities in which we live. It looks at a 130-year span of racial change, from early suburbanization in the 1880s to the consequences of the white flight after World War II. It’s an all-American story. It’s real estate history, social history, African-American history, Jewish history, Catholic history.
How is this relevant?
Certain patterns keep repeating themselves. Take subprime mortgages. In the 1990s minorities were targeted for predatory loans on properties they could not afford. The same thing happened from the 1940s onward. Because blacks had no access to conventional financing, they had to buy from speculators known as blockbusters, who provided 100 percent financing at predatory terms. Whole neighborhoods around the country changed color within ten or fifteen years. Speculators intimidated white homeowners to sell cheap, then flipped the properties and sold them to blacks, often doubling or tripling their acquisition price. Millions and millions of white Americans fled the nation’s cities to the suburbs during that white flight.READ MORE...