How Segregation Creates Communities of Color in MA

Throughout history, government and industries have neglected investments in some neighborhoods, especially communities of color, who are more likely to have fewer resources.

About this Data Story

Towns where more than 50% of the population are people of color tend to be in the Greater Boston area and in cities like Springfield and Brockton. Throughout history, governments and industries have disinvested in some neighborhoods, especially those with communities of color, through racist practices like redlining and land use planning and zoning policies.1, 2 Manufacturing and disposal facilities have also disproportionately been placed in communities of color.3 Additionally, public housing has historically been in low-income areas with a majority Black population.4 These public housing sites tended to be in areas of increased exposure to toxins. In the 1950’s, homeownership loans in the suburbs were offered to low-income White residents while low-income Black residents were targeted for public housing in urban areas.5

Redlining Maps of Boston

Boston Race Density

Map of Boston showing effects of historic redlining.
Explore redlining maps and learn how the built environment and housing impact where and how people live. Also see "Targeting minority, low-income neighborhoods for hazardous waste sites.”
map of Boston showing race density
Race Density Map from the 2016-2017 Health of Boston Report.
For more information, explore the ArcGIS US Race and Ethnicity Dot Density map.

Massachusetts Towns by Percent of Residents of Color

Zoom is available when viewing map. Hover over each city/town to see percentages.

2020 population estimates from University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. n indicates count of cities/towns.

Additional Information and Footnotes

Hispanic is used to reflect current data collection practices. We acknowledge this may not be the preferred term. Throughout this report, NH refers to Non-Hispanic. People of color refers to individuals identifying as Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Other. Unless otherwise noted, adults are ages 18+. Data are most recently available for the specified data source.

1 Mitchell, B. (2018). HOLC “Redlining” Maps: The Persistent Structure of Segregation and Economic Inequality. National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Retrieved from

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Land Use Planning for Public Health: The Role of Local Boards of Health in Community Design and Development. Retrieved from

3 Erickson, J. (2016). Targeting minority, low-income neighborhoods for hazardous waste sites. University of Michigan News. University of Michigan. Retrieved from

4 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (1995). U.S. Housing Market Conditions Summary. Retrieved from

5 Gross, T. (2017). A 'Forgotten History' Of How the U.S. Government Segregated America. National Public Radio; Fresh Air. Retrieved from

Hobson-Prater, T. & Leech, T. (2012). The Significance of Race for Neighborhood Social Cohesion: Perceived Difficulty of Collective Action in Majority Black Neighborhoods. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, XXXIX(1): 89-109. Retrieved from

Additional Resources

Contact for How Segregation Creates Communities of Color in MA


Population Health Information Tool Information Email Population Health Information Tool (PHIT) at


250 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108

As a publicly available tool, we highly encourage the use of data included in PHIT. Below is an example of how you can cite this webpage to reference any information you find helpful.

[Insert Title of Webpage Here] (n.d.). Population Health Information Tool, Massachusetts Department of Public Health. [Insert URL]

Help Us Improve with your feedback