S415 Soil Science Building & Zoom
Environmental legacies of racial segregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Research has demonstrated the impact of historic segregating policies, particularly discriminatory mortgage lending (i.e., “redlining”), on the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens. However, the impact of racial covenants—clauses in housing deeds that prevented sale to people of color—remains unexplored. Using a novel dataset of racial covenants in Minneapolis and its suburbs, the first complete map for any US city, we find a significant positive association between historic racial covenant presence and cooler temperatures, increased tree canopy, and reduced impervious surface today. When compared to redlining, we find that covenants have an environmental impact comparable to the two highest HOLC designations (A or B). Further, within each HOLC grade, covenant presence is associated with additional environmental benefits that mitigate the negative environmental impact associated with redlining. Despite being illegal for more than half a century, our results suggest that racial covenants are associated with environmental inequalities today.
Rebecca Walker, PhD Candidate, UMN Humphrey School
Rebecca Walker is a PhD candidate studying urban planning at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Her research considers the intersection of housing, equity, and the environment in American cities. Her research questions and methods are guided by the voices and leadership of environmental justice activists in Minneapolis and beyond. Prior to coming to the University of Minnesota, Rebecca received a BS in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia and an MS in ecology from the University of California, Davis.