Linking historical discriminatory housing patterns to the contemporary food environment in Baltimore

Richard C. Sadler, Usama Bilal, C. Debra Furr-Holden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Food access literature links disinvested communities with poor food access. Similarly, links are made between discriminatory housing practices and contemporary investment. Less work has examined the relationship between housing practices and food environment disparities. Our central premise is that these practices create distinctions in food environment quality, and that these disparities may have implications for food system advocacy and policymaking. In this paper, we link an objective food environment assessment with a spatial database highlighting redlining, blockbusting, and gentrification in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Standard socioeconomic and housing characteristics are used to control for race, income, and housing composition in a multivariate regression analysis. Our findings highlight that blockbusting—rather than redlining—most strongly shapes poor food access. Redlining and gentrification, meanwhile, are associated with better food access. These findings raise important points about future policy discussions, which should instead be focused on ameliorating more contemporary patterns of housing inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100387
JournalSpatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Blockbusting
  • Food access
  • Food environments
  • GIS
  • Gentrification
  • Redlining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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