Neighborhoods that were redlined in the past—meaning that racist, government-backed maps marked them as “high risk” for home loans because people of color lived in the area—often still struggle with poverty today. They also tend to be different from richer neighborhoods in another way: They have vastly fewer trees.
“If you look at a map of most American cities, you’ll find that tree canopy cover tracks along income lines,” says Sarah Anderson from the nonprofit American Forests. “Wealthier communities have more trees, and lower-income communities have fewer trees. And this is the result of decades of discriminatory housing and planning purposes.”
Among other programs, the nonprofit works on tree equity—bringing more trees to the areas that most need them in cities, with the benefits of helping clean the air, keeping neighborhoods cooler during heat waves, lowering air-conditioning bills, reducing flooding, and improving mental health. Now, the nonprofit is partnering with the company Tazo Tea to work on the problem, creating the “Tazo Tree Corps” to plant and care for trees in targeted neighborhoods in Detroit; Minneapolis; the Bronx; the Bay Area; and Richmond, Virginia.