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Residential Security Maps and Neighborhood Appraisals: The Home Owners' Loan Corporation and the Case of Philadelphia

  • Amy E. Hillier

Abstract

At the request of the Home Loan Bank Board, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) created color-coded maps for cities across the country between 1935 and 1940 that indicated risk levels for long-term real estate investment. Involvement in this City Survey Program marked a departure from the original mission of HOLC to provide new mortgages on an emergency basis to homeowners at risk of losing their homes during the Depression. This article considers why HOLC made these maps, how HOLC created them, and what the basis was for the grades on the maps. Geographic information systems and spatial regression models are used to show that racial composition was a significant predictor of map grades, controlling for housing characteristics.

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