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Inequality: San Antonio's Silent Crisis

In this map from 1934, green and blue show the "best" and "desirable" neighborhoods where banks would back home loans. Yellow and red show "declining" and "hazardous" areas that were considered riskier investments.

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio is at or near the top of several studies examining inequality across the nation, a distinction no city wants.

We're calling it San Antonio's Silent Crisis. Over the next year, News 4 San Antonio is committed to exploring the problem and finding solutions. We begin by showing you how we got to this point.

San Antonio is one large city, but split it apart - north side, south side, east side, west side - and you get four very different identities.

"They're symbolic in our minds," says Dr. Christine Drennon from Trinity University. "They mean: where do I get a particular kind of food? But they're also racial and ethnic. They're economic."

She traces it back to when the city's first neighborhoods were built.

"So you can see the original boundaries of the city," Dr. Drennon says while showing us a map from 1934.

Green and blue show the "best" and "desirable" neighborhoods where banks would back home loans. Yellow and red show "declining" and "hazardous" areas that were considered riskier investments.

"That was red-lined, in here," Dr. Drennon says while pointing to an area on the north side where residents largely worked in service to homeowners in more affluent neighborhoods.

She says the level of risk is code for race. In the green and blue neighborhoods, the original deeds stated only white people could live in the homes.

"It's declared unconstitutional in 1948, but by then those neighborhoods were built," Dr. Drennon says. "And the housing stock in these different kinds of neighborhoods is very distinct."

Homes north of downtown are typically bigger and better built. Homes south, east and west of downtown are generally smaller, with less investment in infrastructure.

The legacy is still with us today. While the neighborhoods close to downtown are seeing a renaissance, others are still suffering.

"We need to make up for the inequities we built directly into this environment," Dr. Drennon says.

She says the city's equity lens budget is a start. Neighborhoods with the greatest need are now getting more money to fix streets and drainage.

"That housing that was built so long ago is still with us," Dr. Drennon says. "It's still here."

If you have an issue related to the inequality crisis in San Antonio, or a solution to the problem, you can reach out to our team at (210) 366-0711 or email us at silentcrisis@news4sa.com.

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