Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw


In the 1930s, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) graded urban neighborhoods based on their mortgage investment risk, designating whiter wealthier neighborhoods a grade A for “best” and lower-income non-white neighborhoods a grade D for “hazardous.” Despite the fact that this process was outlawed by the 1960s, formerly redlined neighborhoods continue to have less access to resources, including food. The central premise of this paper is that historical housing policies have shaped inequitable distribution of food destinations in the contemporary food environment, and may have implications for food system advocacy and policymaking. Using geospatial analysis and multiple linear regressions, this study explores the association between redlining and the densities of a broad range of food destinations across Buffalo, NY. Standard socioeconomic and urban area-level characteristics were used to control for race, education level, income, employment, lone parenthood, vehicle access, income inequality, vacancy, and age of housing. Findings show that HOLC grades had significant positive associations with the density of chain convenience stores, discount stores, snack and nonalcoholic beverage restaurants, and urban agriculture, and significant negative associations with the density of gas stations, even after adjusting for sociodemographic and urban area-level factors. These findings emphasize the longstanding impact that housing policies can have on the contemporary food environment, even decades after they were outlawed. They encourage policymakers and advocates to not only address the impacts of historic policies on current inequities, but also to consider the impact that contemporary policies may have on future generations.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access