National Museum of Public Housing exhibit explores land sale contracts and Englewood segregation

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An interactive NPHM exhibit opening Feb. 18 in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood examines a practice that stole property from many would-be black home buyers in the 1950s and 60s.

CHICAGO, February 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A groundbreaking exhibition sponsored by the National Public Housing Museum, the nation’s premier cultural institution devoted to interpreting the American public housing experience, sheds new light on an unsavory situation Chicago real estate practice in the 1950s and 60s: selling homes to black families using land sale contracts, which imposed excessive monthly payments on buyers, many of whom lost their properties. LSCs spawned segregation and redlining, defrauding families of the equity accumulated through home ownership.

“Inequity for Sale,” an interactive exhibit from the National Public Housing Museum, opens Feb. 18 in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. (PRNewsfoto/National Museum of Public Housing)

“Inequity for Sale” was created by visual artist and artist NPHM 2021 as instigator

Tonika Lewis Johnson to tell the often ignored story of land sale contracts, which emerged as alternatives to traditional loans in Chicago when banks refused loans to black families and prevented them from buying property. Even mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration were unavailable to potential black buyers.

Due to land sales contracts, an estimate $3.2 billion at $4.0 billion was expropriated from the black community between 1950 and 1970, according to a 2018 report duke university to study. The study “The Looting of Black Wealth in Chicago“, found that 60,100 homes had been purchased through LSC by black buyers during this period.

“Inequity For Sale” kicks off in Chicago Englewood during Black History Monthlaunch February 18 to coincide with Black History Month, “Inequity for Sale” will feature sculptural concrete and metal markers, each over five feet tall, in front of Land Sale Contract homes in Englewood, Illinois. one at 6823 S. Aberdeen St. and the other at 7230 S. Green St. Additional property markers will be added in the spring, and a walking tour of Englewood Land Sale Contract homes is scheduled for using the VAMONDE interactive telephone application. It will link the history of the area to present-day conditions in Englewood.

“Many of these once magnificent homes are now dilapidated or abandoned, visible evidence of the sordid legacy of land sale contracts,” Lewis Johnson noted. “Having people walk through Englewood and see these properties allows them to interact with the destructive nature of Chicago history of redlining and segregation. It’s a powerful experience.”

“The ‘Inequity for Sale’ project is exactly the kind of landmark exhibition that can be a catalyst for real change at the 21st century”, executive director of NPHM Lisa Yun Lee, Ph.D. mentioned. “By documenting the intersection of racial injustice with property rights, the exhibit tells a vivid and poignant story that has been largely overlooked for decades.”

Shameful Legacy of Land Sale Contracts Stole Black Community Billions of Dollars

Land sale contracts were offered to future black owners who were unable or unable to qualify for traditional mortgages. The contracts allowed them to rent the houses in the hope of buying them, but came with excessively high monthly payments. When black families could not make payments, which was usually unavoidable due to prohibitive loan rates, they were evicted by non-recourse sellers and lost homes and payments. As a result, contract holders have not been able to build equity in the properties or own them entirely.

Land sale contracts executed in the 1950s and 1960s gained momentum amid a postwar American housing boom, when many white families bought homes in predominantly white neighborhoods with the VA home loan assistance provided by the GI Bill. These VA loans did not exclude black borrowers, but the loans were administered by banks that often practiced redlining, which limited access to mortgages in black neighborhoods.

This practice ended with the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex. However, the impact of land sale contracts continues to be felt today in Chicago still-segregated neighborhoods and the large wealth gap between the city’s black and white residents.

Lewis Johnsonco-founder of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), is widely known for her Folded Map Project, which involved residents on the south and north sides of Chicago to explore the impact of segregation. The project paired residents on one side of town with residents with matching addresses on the other side to compare and document their experiences of growing up and living in their respective neighborhoods. The stunning discrepancies between each group’s results made the project a seminal and iconic work on redlining and segregation.

Lewis Johnson is also co-host of a three-part podcast series based on the project, with NPHM’s arts, culture and public policy program director, Tiff Beatty, titled “Legally Stolen”, which was launched in December 2021. The first two episodes can be downloaded here.

About the National Museum of Social Housing: The NPHM is the first cultural institution in United States dedicated to interpreting the American experience in public housing. Its mission is to preserve, promote and propel everyone’s right to a place where they can live and prosper, a home. Using art, oral histories and material culture, the Museum will archive and share social housing stories of hope and personal achievement, as well as stories of struggle, resistance and resilience. These stories create opportunities for visitors to understand and engage in innovative public policy reform to reimagine the future of our communities, our society, and the places we call home. Its physical structure is currently under development and will be an adaptive reuse of the last remaining building of the old Jane Addams Houses to Chicago Close to West Side. Upon completion, visitors will encounter fascinating and historically significant exhibits and engage with the provocative ideas of internationally acclaimed contemporary artists.

Media Contact:
Beshanda Owusu
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National Museum of Public Housing (PRNewsfoto/National Museum of Public Housing)

National Museum of Public Housing (PRNewsfoto/National Museum of Public Housing)



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