5 -Part

Video Series

Explore the history of redlining and systemic racism in housing with the Polk County Housing Trust Fund's new 5-part video series. 

This series explores

  • the history of past racial housing policies,

  • the history of Des Moines and the State of Iowa in regard to these past policies and others and, 

  • look at how that history has impacted our developing city and what we can do about it. Mark Marturello-Artrist.jpg
* Thank you to Artist Mark Marturello for the incredible Movie Poster for the series!


What is Redlining?

In the 1930s, the United States was devastated by the Great Depression. President Roosevelt and Congress needed to help bring America out of this financial crisis, so they developed the New Deal Programs. These were social safety net and wealth-building programs to provide better opportunities for Americans to get out of their financial stress. One of those ways was through the mortgage lending and home ownership system. The New Deal programs positively impacted families across the country, however, they only helped white households. During this time, Jim Crow Era segregation was still in effect throughout the federal government. So Congress wanted to bake into all the new deal programs systemic ways to cut out people of color from benefiting. With the creation of the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC), a system now known as Redlining came into existence. This home valuation and mortgage risk assessment system embedded Jim Crow-era segregation and inequality into cities across the United States. Maps of cities were developed to show which neighborhoods were best for investment and mortgage loans and which were not. These maps, known as Redlining maps, told banks where and to whom they should provide money. This practice is how structural racism and inequality were designed into our cities and the built environment. The impact and consequences of this system have never been undone.

Why is this topic important to understand?


We still have realtors assume white families don't want Des Moines Public Schools . . . implicit bias exists everywhere.

I found it so shocking about how the cycle seems to continue today.

Big government seem to facilitate these practices, but glad to see the importance of community involvement and action for change

We keep repeating the same mistakes. Historical disinvestment must be considered!!

I enjoyed learning about the history and how redlining affected Des Moines.

Indebted to all those who worked to bring the exhibit together. Thank you. We need to all work together to change the inequality in Des Moines.

What is the City of Des Moines doing about this/to redesign ?

Thank you for opening this exhibit so others in the community come come! Appreciate it very much!

Systematic and institutional racism needs to be addressed through practice + policy change. We need more political advocates.



Wells Fargo

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Mid Iowa Health Foundation

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The Director's




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