REAL ESTATE: Greenlining of America

Mortgage money, like the middle class, has long been moving out of the cities and into the suburbs, where houses are newer, incomes higher and lending risks lower. Abetting this migration is a decades-old practice called "redlining," by which lending institutions map older city districts off limits for loans, mortgages and insurance. Would-be property buyers in redlined territory are denied loans regardless of their income or credit rating, and older city neighbor hoods quickly turn into newer slums.

Now a spirited fight against redlining is mounting across the U.S. by the residents of declining neighborhoods. Their tactic: to...

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