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'Red-lined' Cleveland neighborhoods are still facing issues decades later, study shows

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 16:57:01-04

It was banned 50 years ago, but the effects of "red-lining" are still felt today.

"They mapped out different parts of the city and determined based on the types of areas whether they were good investments for mortgages or not," said Case Western Senior Research Associate Rachel Lovell.

The folks that were red-lined, or denied mortgages, Lovell said, were mostly immigrants and African-Americans and they largely lived on the east side of Cleveland. Today, those same areas remain riddled with problems.

"We looked at lead poisoning of children, we looked at high-speed internet access, as other types of variables," Lovell said. "We've also since looked at other health-related variables like asthma."

In addition to health-related issues and access to resources, those same historically red-lined areas have a much larger issue: the chance for women being sexually assaulted is significantly higher.

"We coded a great deal of information about the locations of these sexual assaults and then mapped them," she said.

Remember the tens of thousands of untested rape kits that were just sitting on police shelves for decades and were finally all tested earlier this year?

According to the research, most kits were again from those same red-lined neighborhoods.

Lovell thinks the lack of lighting, cameras and east side neighborhoods overrun with abandoned homes increases the risk.

"Some areas have a lot of urban blight which creates risks for people to be moved into that area and sexually assaulted," said Lovell.

A blighted home on Cleveland's east side is where 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze was kidnapped, raped and eventually murdered. Her body was not found for days.

While this Case Western research details critical issues many families are facing every single day, researchers say it also points to the solutions needed for recovery.

"People don't come away with this idea that never go to the east side, the east side is completely dangerous, but instead talk about it in its larger context," Lovell said. "Solutions need to be found to make those areas safer for the residents who live in those areas and are at high risk for being sexually assaulted."

Researchers at Case have been working on the topic for over three years.