We propose to develop a GIS-based method for identifying areas historically subject to redlining, blockbusting, and other discriminatory housing practices to understand the long-term impact of these public policies and practices on current day community availability of alcohol (CAA). We will build on our earlier research by deriving and validating such areas through archival research for our study cities of Flint, MI, and Baltimore, MD?two distinct but alcohol-saturated and heavily redlined communities. We will explore social and built environmental data that may confound the association to CAA by using both contemporary and historical datasets. In contrast to research that only associates CAA with violence, crime, and various health outcomes, we move back temporally to determine how unhealthy environments persist over time via the landscapes created by discriminatory housing practices. We also explore the potential mediating role of other structural neighborhood factors, including housing vacancy, concentrated poverty, racial segregation, and presence of community amenities, which may mediate the relationship between historical housing policy and contemporary alcohol outlet density. Lastly, we will evaluate contemporary evidence-based policy interventions to address inequities in CAA and violence. We will specifically evaluate the impact of recently passed legislation? ?TransForm Baltimore??on the CAA and the inequitable distribution of alcohol outlets in Baltimore, as well as changes in violence associated with enforcement of the policy. We will also examine the potential of comparable legislation for Flint to correct historically persistent built environmental disparities. The proposed research is extremely relevant to NIAAA?s funding priorities because no comprehensive inquiry has been made into historical antecedents to community availability of alcohol (and we therefore have little direct scientific evidence of the effects of these antecedents). Knowing the extent to which redlining, blockbusting, and other discriminatory or racist housing practices have influenced the current form of the built environment (including via the distribution and density of alcohol outlets) will give policymakers and researchers a better view into how to intervene on such matters. This research is poised to make substantial contributions to literature on urban planning and alcohol abuse because of the nascence of research at the intersection of these topics. With evidence gained from this work, we anticipate that communities will be emboldened in their efforts to correct the ongoing negative effects of housing disinvestment, including on CAA, and will be able to replicate our design to highlight how disinvestment has specifically affected their communities.

Public Health Relevance

Our understanding of discrimination and community availability of alcohol are commonly leveraged separately to address public health issues. By combining these two often separately considered elements into one analysis, we will deliver some of the first insights into the outcomes of historical housing discrimination on contemporary alcohol availability. This will be of great importance to ongoing policy evaluation to determine how we might improve our built environments to be more naturally conducive to good health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
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Bloss, Gregory
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Michigan State University
Family Medicine
Schools of Medicine
East Lansing
United States
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