“Fair Housing At Its Worst” Report #2

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On February 15, 1974, Education/Instruccion published its second report in a series entitled “Fair Housing At Its Worst.” These reports investigated housing discrimination in Hartford by analyzing Connecticut’s violations of Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. This report in particular discusses the ways in which real estate organizations verbally committed themselves to open housing practices, but then failed to fulfill their promises.

Education/Instruccion writes that although the 1968 Civil Rights Act had good intentions, “equal opportunity postponed is equal opportunity denied” (Education/Instruccion 16). For example, the US Department of Justice hired only 25 lawyers to address the entire nation’s legal issues regarding housing discrimination, leaving the Department extremely understaffed (16).

The report focuses on three major real estate organizations: The National Association of Realtors, Connecticut Real Estate Commission, and The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. At the time, The National Association of Realtor’s marketing tagline was “America is talking and we’re listening” (18). However, despite this promising catchphrase, the Association failed to respond to Education/Instruccion when asked how they were meeting affirmative action requirements (19).

Education/Instruccion’s report also discusses the Connecticut Real Estate Commission, an organization that issues licenses to real estate brokers and salesmen. At the time, all of the Commissioners were white, male, and English-speaking (22). The Commission’s written regulations required salesmen to utilize minority groups and avoid any plans that might result in “discriminatory practices,” yet none of their education courses included any information about residential and racial patterns (21-22).

The report also points to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) as another contributing factor toward housing barriers in Hartford. The CHFA’s job is to make financing a home more affordable for low-income buyers. However, Education/Instruccion wrote that the CHFA sees state requirements for opening housing as “nonchalant” regulations. At the time, none of the private sector CHFA members were black or Spanish-American, and not one employee was assigned to fulfill equal opportunity or affirmative action tasks (26).


1. Kramer, Eward G. “Promises, Promises: A New Day for Open Housing.” NYLF21 (1975): 537.

I found this source on Google Scholar by searching “Hartford open housing” and limiting my search results to items released between 1970-1980. 

2. Peel, Norman D. “Racial Discrimination in Public Housing Site Selection.” Stanford Law Review. 23.1 (1970): 63-147. Print.

I found this source on JSTOR by searching “Connecticut Housing Finance Authority” and limiting my search results to items released between 1970-1980.

3. The Status of Equal Housing Opportunity: A Report of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. Hartford: The Commission, 1978. Print.

I found this source on Trincoll.WorldCat.org by searching “Connecticut housing discrimination” and limiting my search results to items released between 1965-1980.

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you think real estate companies and organizations can successfully promote affirmative action and open housing policies if their own employees are predominantly, or all, white?
  2. Education/Instruccion writes that it is often real estate companies’ lack of action that creates housing barriers. What do you believe is more detrimental toward open housing: active attempts to build barriers or total lack of initiative to tear them down? 

Fair Housing at Its Worst: the flagrant violation of Title VII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act in Greater Hartford, Connecticut, report 6.

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The article I examined was “Fair Housing at Its Worst: the flagrant violation of Title VII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act in Greater Hartford, Connecticut, report 6.” This report speaks about “blockbusting” and “panic selling” and about how mass solicitation of homes and apartments in communities creates an artificial reservoir of sales. Mass solicitation could be desirable for a neighborhood or it can have a negative effect in neighborhoods of minority or low-income concentration. In such situations, perfectly adequate housing goes unemphasized, which then causes leaders who often have significant decision-making power to move from such areas. Usually criticism of public schools increases as well as the poor morale in health recreation and summer programs. Government services are threatened by elimination and there is an increase in news reportings of unpleasantness and negative reaction is multiplied. The result of this is a loss of the sense of confidence, stability, and healthy growth in that area.

The next section explains the lack of racial integration in the state of Connecticut, calculating that in order to achieve a random distribution of blacks and whites 71% of the regions population would have to relocate.

Collective racist action is so clear in the federally established financing program of home-ownership for lower-income families known as section 235. The Federal Housing Administration discriminated against blacks by discouraging investment in racially mixed neighborhoods as well as inner-city neighborhoods. This report gives evidence that from the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, the HUD 235 program was used to reinforce racial segregation in housing and used to further urban economic and physical decay. It is known that mortgage lenders, builders, brokers, and HUD officials understood the racist process but did nothing. The evidence behind this is that it is clear that HUD was aware what was occurring in the 235 program because it issued regulations requiring affirmative action program to integrate the projects which were being constructed and sold. “Although steering was clearly occurring in both the ‘new’ and ‘existing’ home purchase aspects of the program and two-thirds of units being purchased were ‘existing’ homes, HUD affirmative action requirements were only applied to ‘new’ construction. Both HUD and the lenders ‘looked the other way’.”


Gotham, Kevin Fox. “Beyond Invasion and Succession: School Segregation, Real Estate Blockbusting, and the Political Economy of Neighborhood Racial Transition.” City and Community 1.1 (2002): 83-111. Print.

-I went to google scholar and typed in “blockbusting” and “panic selling”

Keating, W. Dennis. The Suburban Racial Dilemma: Housing and Neighborhoods. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1994. Print.

-I typed in “lack of racial integration in Connecticut” into jstor.

Rotberg, Robert. “Where can a Negro Live?” The Hartford Courant (1923-1987): 1. Aug 20 1956. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2013 .

Discussion Questions:

1) Since this report makes it clear that HUD officials were aware that the 235 program was reinforcing racial segregation because it issued regulations requiring affirmative action but only for “new” home purchases which does not include the “existing” two-thirds of homes, does that mean that “steering” could be a public rather than just a private matter?

2) What is mass solicitation and what are ways in which it can either promote a neighborhood as being “desirable” or have negative effects in neighborhoods of minority or low-income concentrations?

FHA Underwriting Manual

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The source that I looked at was the Underwriting Manual, written by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in 1936.  It contains instructions and regulations governing the procedures to be followed by the Underwriting Departments in Insuring Offices. It also describes techniques used by the FHA to determine whether or not mortgages are eligible for insurance. Insurance eligibility is determined by risk rating. The process of “risk rating” is extremely relevant to our discussion about housing barriers.

The famous term “red lining” comes from the FHA process of risk rating. The basic idea is that the FHA used race of occupants as one of the measurements for the value and stability of a neighborhood. Thus, neighborhoods that contained non-white inhabitants were given a low ranking (red) and thus those who lived there were deemed a risk and refused loans. The Underwriting Manual is a long and dense document, and one must dig through the text to find the few blatant racial provisions. These can be found in Section II under the heading “Risk Rating Instructions” in the subsection labeled “Protection From Adverse Influences”.

  • Paragraph 228: Deed restrictions are referenced as more effective than zoning ordinances in providing protection from “adverse influences”.  Racial occupancy is noted as a type of deed restriction that can have a favorable outcome if it is applied to all properties, including those in adjacent blocks.
  • Paragraph 229: Geographical position is said to afford protection against adverse influences in some cases. The manual states that, “Usually the protection against adverse influences afforded by these means include prevention of the infiltration of business and industrial uses, lower-class occupancy, and inharmonious racial groups.”
  • Paragraph 233: This paragraph contains some of the most racially charged language in the manual. It basically states that the Valuator needs to check out neighborhoods surrounding the property to see if there is the presence of incompatible racial or social groups as they could potentially invade the area. It recognizes that a change in racial or social occupancy leads to instability and reduced value. It is noted that once the character of a neighborhood is established, it is impossible to induce members of a higher social class to move in.
  • The same paragraph mentions that value is hurt if the children of inhabitants must attend school with pupils of a far lower level of society or an incompatible racial element.
  • Paragraph 284: “The prohibition of the occupancy of properties except by the race for which they were intended” is listed as an example of an effective deed restriction to supplement zoning.
  • Paragraph 289: The manual states that schools should be up to the standards of the neighborhood and not be attended in large numbers by inharmonious racial groups.


Secondary Sources:

1) Charles Abrams, Forbidden Neighbors (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955), 162.

– I found this source because in it Charles Abrams cites the FHA Underwriting manual from 1936.


2) John P. Dean, “Only Caucasian: A Study of Race Covenants,” The Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics, vol. 23 no. 4 (1947), 428-432.

-I found this article on jstor by searching the term “FHA Underwriting Manual”.


3) James A. Berkovec et al., “Discrimination, Competition, and Loan Performance in FHA Mortgage Lending,” The Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 80 no. 2 (1998), 241-250.

-I found this article on google scholar by searching the term “FHA Underwriting Manual”.




-Abrams, Charles. Forbidden Neighbors. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955.


-Dean, John P. “Only Caucasian: A Study of Race Covenants.” The Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics. Vol. 23 No. 4, 1947.


-Berkovec, James A., Glenn B. Canner, Stuart A. Gabriel and Timothy H. Hannan. “Discrimination, Competition, and Loan Performance in FHA Mortgage Lending.” The Review of Economics and Statistics. Vol. 80 No. 2, 1998.


Discussion Questions

1) In what way was the FHA’s underwriting process inherently related to race?

2) What role did the FHA play in redefining the notion of real estate as having a market value rather than a use value and how did their use of racialized language in the Underwriting Manual affect what constituted real estate value?

Housing Sources

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Education/Instruccion. Fair Housing At Its Worst: Redlining in Hartford Connecticut, report 9. Hartford, CT, 1977. Available from the Trinity College Digital Repository, Hartford, Connecticut (http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu)

“Fair Housing At Its Worst: Redlining in Hartford Connecticut, report 9” is an article published in 1977 from a series of reports on equal housing opportunity from the Education/Instruccion, an group led by Ben Dixon, Boyd Hinds, and Julia Ramos[1]. The report was submitted in partnership with the Cities, Suburbs and Schools project, namely for the On The Line web-book by Jack Dougherty and colleagues[2].

The article seeks to define and explain the practices of redlining, as well as explicate how this practice has affected the city and the surrounding suburbs of Hartford. Furthermore, this report looks into the procedures for mortgage loans in Hartford’s city and it’s surrounding suburbs, comparing the two and drawing conclusions as to why such practices are different. The report also seeks to outline how anti-disinvestment practices can be modified. In sum, the report offers a plethora of evidence to suggest that the blatantly racist practices of banks have had detrimental effects on the city of Hartford.


Education/Instruccion. Fair Housing At Its Worst: Redlining in Hartford Connecticut, report 9. Hartford, CT, 1977. Available from the Trinity College Digital Repository, Hartford, Connecticut (http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu)


 The three other resources I located were:


Urban Decline or Disinvestment: Uneven Development, Redlining and the Role of the Insurance Industry. Gregory D. Squires, Ruthanne Dewolfe and Alan S. Dewolfe. Social Problems , Vol. 27, No. 1, Policy Processes (Oct., 1979), pp. 79-95. Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Article DOI: 10.2307/800018, Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800018

I located this resource by utilizing the JSTOR resource online. I searched for articles, books, etc. pertaining to, “Redlining in Hartford.” The article covers all of the material expressed in the main source I was observing:

“The findings suggest—as its critics have charged and the insurance industry has generally denied—that redlining of man urban communities and discrimination against the poor and minorities are facts of insurance life, and contribute to the deterioration of those communities. We offer some policy recommendations for eliminating redlining and for the stimulating reinvestment in urban neighborhoods.[3]


Lawsuit Accuses Travelers Of Redlining, By DIANE LEVICK; Courant Staff Writer, The Hartford Courant, July 08, 2000 http://articles.courant.com/2000-07-08/business/0007127403_1_travelers-property-casualty-corp-minority-areas-market-share

I found this article by going to courant.com, the website of the daily paper for Hartford. I searched for articles about redlining practices, and found this very interesting report about women who are suing Travelers for their racist practices.


Why Banks Go Bad—Understanding a Banking Crisis in Transition
 Professor William K. Black, author of 
”The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One.” Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report
. National Edition
. Produced by Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg. 
27 minutes. Internet Archive, http://archive.org/details/BuildingBridgesRadioWhyBanksGoBad

This last resource I found using the Internet Archive. I searched through a plethora of medias searching for archives relating to “mortgages in Hartford” and “redlining in Hartford” and “1977.” And I’m very excited about this resource because it is “untraditional” in terms of the media I usually utilize. This is a half an hour podcast, originally aired on the radio. It discuses banks and their correction, and the processes that lead to such corruption.



How did the redlining procedures from the 1970’s contribute to the current racial and economic make-up of both the city and suburbs Hartford?

What can be concluded about the practices of banks in the 1970’s in terms of racism? Were the banks racist…? Did anyone try to stop the redlining process?



[1] Education/Instruccion. Fair Housing At Its Worst: Redlining in Hartford Connecticut, report 9. Hartford, CT, 1977. Available from the Trinity College Digital Repository, Hartford, Connecticut (http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu)

[2] Education/Instruccion. Fair Housing At Its Worst: Redlining in Hartford Connecticut, report 9. Hartford, CT, 1977. Available from the Trinity College Digital Repository, Hartford, Connecticut (http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu)


Where Can A Negro Live?

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“Where can a Negro Live? A study of Housing Discrimination in Hartford Part II” is a short article written by Robert Rotberg. This article sheds light on some discriminatory practices that African Americans living in Hartford faced during the 1950s. This article, published on August 20, 1956 by the Hartford Courant shows housing barriers existed and affected affluent African Americans as well as those lower class African Americans. The article describes some of the experiences faced by African American men who were looking to buy or rent a home in a predominantly white neighborhood in Hartford. These men were denied of buying or renting due to redlining, an act that makes it difficult for people living in low income areas (or slums) to move out into a more prestigious neighborhood.

Redlining is not new in Hartford neighborhoods; many real estate agents used redlining to outcast African Americans of all socioeconomic classes. The Hartford Courant, one of Connecticut’s most renowned newspapers, has spoken on the effects of redlining for decades. An article from the Hartford Courant called “Neighborhoods Gain on Redlining” by Neal R. Pierce, further explains the issue of redlining as it pinpoints the very issues that the men in “Where can Negros Live?” face. A second article from the Hartford Courant that explains how African Americans take actions on the barrier set before them is “Negro Group Asks Policy On Housing”. And lastly, part VII of “Where can a Negro Live” by Robert Rotberg explains how African Americans take a proactive stance amidst their struggles with redlining and other housing barriers.


Questions for Seminar:

  1. It is clear that from the 1950s-1970s redlining was a discriminatory practice many people of color faced, is there still evidence of redlining today?
  2. How do you think African Americans living in Hartford battled some of these discriminatory practices (not only redlining but blockbusting and zoning as well)?


Works Cited

“Negro Group Asks Policy on Housing.” The Hartford Courant (1923-1987): 4. Nov 30 1940. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2013 .

Peirce, Neal R. “Neighborhoods Gain on Redlining.” The Hartford Courant (1923-1987): 19. Jan 12 1979. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2013 .

Rotberg, Robert. “Where can a Negro Live?” The Hartford Courant (1923-1987): 1. Aug 20 1956. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2013 .

Rotberg, Robert. “Where can a Negro Live?” The Hartford Courant (1923-1987): 16. Aug 25 1956. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2013