Associations Between Historical Redlining and Present-Day Heat Vulnerability Housing and Land Cover Characteristics in Philadelphia, PA

Leah H. Schinasi, Chahita Kanungo, Zachary Christman, Sharrelle Barber, Loni Tabb, Irene Headen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Historical, institutional racism within the housing market may have impacted present-day disparities in heat vulnerability. We quantified associations between historically redlined areas with present-day property and housing characteristics that may enhance heat vulnerability in Philadelphia, PA. We used color-coded Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) maps and tax assessment data to randomly select 100 present-day (2018–2019) residential properties in each HOLC grade area (A = Best; B, C, and D = Most hazardous; N = 400 total). We conducted virtual inventories of the properties using aerial and streetview imagery for land cover and housing characteristics (dark roof color, flat roof shape, low or no mature tree canopy, no recently planted street trees) that may enhance heat vulnerability. We used modified Poisson regression models to estimate associations of HOLC grades with the property characteristics, unadjusted and adjusted for historical and contemporary measures of the neighborhood sociodemographic environment. Compared to grade A areas, higher proportions of properties in grade B, C, and D areas had dark roofs, low/no mature tree canopy, and no street trees. Adjusting for historical sociodemographics attenuated associations, with only associations with low or no tree canopy remaining elevated. Adjusting for present-day concentrated racial and socioeconomic deprivation did not substantially impact overall findings. In Philadelphia, PA, HOLC maps serve as spatial representations of present-day housing and land cover heat vulnerability characteristics. Further analyses incorporating longitudinal data on urban redevelopment, reinvestment, and neighborhood change are needed to more fully represent complex relationships among historical racism, residential segregation, and heat vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-145
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Associations Between Historical Redlining and Present-Day Heat Vulnerability Housing and Land Cover Characteristics in Philadelphia, PA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this