Bigotry and the glendale real estate board
The National Housing Act of 1934 was enacted as part of the New Deal to reduce the foreclosure rate during the Depression, making housing and mortgages more affordable for low-income workers. HOLC institutionalized the long-term fixed payment mortgage, created the primary wealth generation tool for Americans, and aided one million mortgage holders in its first two years. To ensure mortgage payments didn’t default, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC), a government-sponsored corporation, created a city survey program, which gathered data about neighborhoods across America and created a residential security map. These maps would attach letter and color grades to areas based on the reports on the "quality of life" and where it was considered safe to insure mortgages. Anywhere African Americans lived was colored red to indicate to appraisers that these neighborhoods were too risky to insure mortgages.
A - Green (best) best investment; a neighborhood of white professionals.
B - Blue (desirable) good investment; a white neighborhood of white-collar workers.
C - Yellow (declining) risky investment; a white working class neighborhood in declining.
D - Red (hazardous) bad investment; area of "squalor," immigrants, people of color and white people living in poverty.
The HOLC created maps factored in proximity to noxious uses, such as industrial development, but the primary determining factor for classification was racial composition. Areas deemed as “best” (Green) and “desirable” (Blue) earned this rating based on the presence of racially restrictive deeds and covenants. The more minorities that lived in a neighborhood the lower the grade it was given. Yellow and Red areas were often not eligible for loans, which stifled development and encouraged urban decay. This was particularly damaging to older neighborhoods where even loans for repairs were difficult to obtain. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) would not provide insurance backing for mortgages in Red and some Yellow classified neighborhoods. Without FHA backing, most could not afford the alternative of high down payment, high interest rate, short term loans.
Redlined maps of Glendale, like the one above, indicate risk of lending to particular neighborhoods in south Glendale based on the presence of minorities. The communities in Green and Blue, favored for lending based on their ability to restrict access to these neighborhoods, were most prevalent in north Glendale.
These maps and racially restrictive covenants were legal to use in California until 1963, cementing over three decades of economic and housing inequality. During this period, favored neighborhoods and ethnicities were able to build and accumulate wealth through property ownership, while minorities were restricted in access to neighborhoods and the ability to build wealth. Restricted access to neighborhoods made finding employment more difficult, as well as restricted opportunities to higher quality education. Furthermore, redlined communities based upon race were often located closest to industrial uses and other noxious uses, creating disparity in public health as well as economic disparity.
Today, redlining maps are no longer used, but racial compositions and segregation in cities deeply follow the boundaries of these maps. Research has shown that most neighborhoods that were classified as Green (best) and Blue (desirable) typically have a racial composition of over 75% white today. Neighborhoods classified as Yellow (declining) and Red (hazardous) were majority-minority communities. While outlawed in the mid-20th century, redline maps created racial and economic division lines that have lasted through today.
RACE RESTRICTIONS COMMITTEE
The Glendale Real Estate Board, along with property owners in the area, fought hard to keep Glendale"the white spot of California." They created a successful model of racial housing restrictions, and enlisted help from groups like the Property Research Association and the Building Contractors Association of California, Inc., and Real Estate Brokers to enforce the restrictions on the use and occupancy of their members' properties.
A Race Restrictions Committee was assembled and they formed the civilian defense organization that aggressively fought to keep people of color out of Glendale. Although their main concern was the influx of Japanese residents to the area, the proposed restrictions would also limit access to African Americans and other people of color. The Committee's most effective tool to restrict housing was gathering the signatures of virtually everyone in Glendale, to pledge that they would not sell or lease property to anyone who wasn't white.
In 1963, the California Legislature passed the California Fair Housing Act, also known as the Rumford Act, which legally ended race restrictions. Opponents of the Rumford Act used the tactics learned from Glendale's Race Restrictions Committee to launch a new signature collecting campaign for Proposition 14, which if passed, would effectively nullify the Rumford Act. You can learn more by visiting: "A LEGAL BATTLE"
The Glendale Real Estate Board and the Property Research Association in preparing for their campaign to impose restrictions on real property in Glendale, limiting its use and occupancy to members of the Caucasian race, named Russell O. Cochran Sr. as director of the Race Restrictions Committee.
The article to the right notes that the "Spearhead of the campaign will be the women's auxiliary of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce."
Mrs. Zelma Bogue, vice-president of the auxiliary, pictured above, was the representative at the meeting.
The auxiliary recruited over 300 field workers to canvass property owners seeking signatures to a covenant to maintain race restrictions on their holdings.
Mrs. Zelma Bogue would be a continued presence in Glendale's public and political realm, becoming Glendale's first female Mayor in 1953.
GLENDALE AS A MODEL WHITE CITY
When property owners and city councils in areas like Eagle Rock, Huntington Beach and La Habra sought to keep people of color out of a community, they looked to Glendale as a successful model. Glendale secured the signatures of almost all property owners within the city, on an agreement that they would not sell their properties to any non-white people. The agreements recorded in the county’s records established a permanent restriction on the sale of the property to anyone who wasn’t white. Many Southern California properties had deeds which contained prohibitions against the sale of the property to people of color. While those prohibitions would not stand in a court of law, the “use and occupancy” of a property could be regulated. Under the restrictions proposed, a person of color could buy a property but not live in it. The pledge made by the property owners in Glendale created an effective barrier against what the Glendale Real Estate Board called “the intrusion of undesirable neighbors."
Copyright notice: Any materials under copyright in this exhibit are covered by the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act. Permission and preferred attribution were requested of all copyright holders.
Home Owners' Loan Corporation Residential Security Map, 1939. National Archives and Records Administration. KCET, https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/segregation-in-the-city-of-angels-a-1939-map-of-housing-inequality-in-l-a.
"60 Percent of Holdings Under Ban." Glendale News-Press, 19 Mar. 1942. Microform. Glendale Central Library. Glendale Library, Arts & Culture.
"Contractors' Aid in Race Ban Sought." Glendale News-Press, 6 Feb. 1942. Microform. Glendale Central Library. Glendale Library, Arts & Culture.
"Racial Ban to be Discussed." Glendale News-Press, 4 Jan. 1942. Microform. Glendale Central Library. Glendale Library, Arts & Culture.
Zelma Bogue. Glendale Mayors Collection. Glendale Central Library. Glendale Library, Arts & Culture.
"Realtors Pick Restrictions Drive Leader." Glendale News-Press, 28 Jan. 1942. Microform. Glendale Library, Arts & Culture.
"Would Limit Residents to Caucasian Race." La Habra Star, 22 Dec. 1944. California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, <http://cdnc.ucr.edu>.
"Start Plan to Make Race Restrictions." La Habra Star, 20 Apr. 1945. California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, <http://cdnc.ucr.edu>.