digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Sprawling public housing projects like Chicago's Cabrini–Green were one result of the Housing Act of 1949.

The American Housing Act of 1949 (Title V of P.L. 81-171) was a landmark, sweeping expansion of the federal role in mortgage insurance and issuance and the construction of public housing. It was part of President Harry Truman's program of domestic legislation, the Fair Deal.


The main elements of the Act included:

  • providing federal financing for slum clearance programs associated with urban renewal projects in American cities (Title I),
  • increasing authorization for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance (Title II),
  • extending federal money to build more than 800,000 public housing units (Title III)
  • fund research into housing and housing techniques, and
  • permitting the FHA to provide financing for rural homeowners.

Creation of the legislation[edit]

In the State of the Union address unveiling the Fair Deal, Truman observed that "Five million families are still living in slums and firetraps. Three million families share their homes with others." He also presented a policy statement on housing:

The housing shortage continues to be acute. As an immediate step, the Congress should enact the provisions for low-rent public housing, slum clearance, farm housing, and housing research which I have repeatedly recommended. The number of lowrent public housing units provided for in the legislation should be increased to 1 million units in the next 7 years. Even this number of units will not begin to meet our need for new housing.

Most of the houses we need will have to be built by private enterprise, without public subsidy. By producing too few rental units and too large a proportion of high-priced houses, the building industry is rapidly pricing itself out of the market. Building costs must be lowered.

The Government is now engaged in a campaign to induce all segments of the building industry to concentrate on the production of lower priced housing. Additional legislation to encourage such housing will be submitted.

The authority which I have requested, to allocate materials in short supply and to impose price ceilings on such materials, could be used, if found necessary, to channel more materials into homes large enough for family life at prices which wage earners can afford.[1]

In Congress, the bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Robert A. Taft.[2]


The Act was of great importance in that it governed the way the immense financial resources of the federal government would shape the growth of American cities in the post-war era. For instance, in one survey of the top "influences on the postwar American metropolis," the FHA's mortgage financing program ranks second and urban renewal programs rank fourth.[3] The law facilitated a rise in homeownership and the building of huge public housing projects that would become fixtures in many American cities.

The legislation's legacy is mixed, particularly with regard to the success of the urban renewal and public housing elements. The government fell far short of its goal to build 810,000 units of new public housing by 1955, providing little aid to cities suffering from housing shortages. In fact, because of projects like Lincoln Center, a New York City cultural development including 4400 apartments for which 7000 apartments were torn down, the Act's urban redevelopment programs actually destroyed more housing units than they built.[4]

Meanwhile, the massive urban redevelopment efforts prompted by the Act came under fire for poor planning, failings with regard to social equity and fairness, and sometimes corruption (see, e.g., Manhattantown). Urban renewal also came under fire for discriminating against minorities, in that it often resulted in minority-heavy slums being destroyed and replaced with more expensive housing or non-residential public works that were not accommodating to the original inhabitants. The slogan adopted by critics equated "urban renewal" with "Negro removal."[5]

The federal government spent $13.5 billion on urban redevelopment and slum clearance projects between 1953 and 1986.[6]


  1. ^ Truman, Harry. 1949 State of the Union address
  2. ^ http://www.mi.vt.edu/data/files/hpd%2011(2)/hpd%2011(2)_editor's%20introduction.pdf, 293
  3. ^ The interstate highway program topped the list
  4. ^ Caro, Robert. The Power Broker. Vintage: 1974, p. 1014.; [www.fanniemaefoundation.org/programs/hpd/pdf/hpd_1102_edintro.pdf]
  5. ^ Rusk, David. Inside Game Outside Game. Brookings Institution, 1999. p. 90. Clarence Thomas refers to this phrase and writes: "Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; ..." Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) [1]
  6. ^ Rusk, David. Inside Game Outside Game. Brookings Institution, 1999. p. 90.

Further reading[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housing_Act_of_1949 — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
222 videos foundNext > 

Loeb Fellowship Program Lecture: James Stockard, "Affordable Housing: It's Just (A) Right"

The Housing Act of 1949 pledged a decent home for every American family. But the interpretations of what that means and who is responsible for it have varied...

The Tragedy of Urban Renewal: The destruction and survival of a New York City neighborhood

In 1949, President Harry Truman signed the Housing Act, which gave federal, state, and local governments unprecedented power to shape residential life. One o...

Multiple Choice Answers

http://subjecttutors.blogspot.in/2013/09/multiple-choice-answers_3852.html 1. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a Supreme Court decision that 2. Jose...

Harry S. Truman signs the Housing Act in presence of the Housing Administration m...HD Stock Footage

Link to order this clip: http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675069315_Harry-S-Truman_signs-Housing-Act_Housing-Administration-members_seated-at-a-desk Histo...

Growing Up & Being British: English Children: Life in the City 1949 EB Films

more at http://news.quickfound.net/intl/england_news.html Pre-TV England: "Typical events in the daily life of an English urban family just after World War I...

Better Housing 1935

This 1935 news flash, which typically would have circulated as an add-on to films of the day along with a cartoon or two, is the American National Housing Ac...

Supreme Court Hears Defense Of Marriage Act Arguments-Full Hearing-March 27, 2013

The US Supreme Court hears arguments for striking down the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) that is preventing same-sex couples from getting federal benefits.T...

Homes For Veterans (1946)

A municipal emergency housing council discusses the problem of housing returning veterans and methods of constructing new dwellings in spite of building mate...

Meet New Zealand - The People (1949) 4 of 4

A survey of present-day [1949] New Zealand - its people, scenery, industries, communications, sports and social services. This film is split in to four parts...

Welfare Reform Act: Facing up to it (1 of 4)

Newydd Housing Association tenants and staff have, together with Spectacle Theatre, created hard-hitting films to explain the changes to welfare benefits. Th...

222 videos foundNext > 

67 news items


Sun, 25 Jan 2015 07:56:15 -0800

The Act further provides that applicants in communities that have a current rural area waiver under section 541 of the Housing Act of 1949 (42 U.S.C. 1490q) shall be treated as living in a rural area for purposes of section 502 guaranteed loans. This ...
Tue, 13 Jan 2015 15:10:31 -0800

Since the Federal Housing Act of 1949, American families have been promised a decent home and a suitable living environment. Sadly, Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami and the CRAs have not lived up to this 65-year-old promise. Whether it is with ...
Targeted News Service (subscription)
Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:59:55 -0800

... Substantial Rehabilitation, State Housing Agencies, New Construction financed under Section 515 of the Housing Act of 1949, the Loan Management Set-Aside Program, the HAP Program for the Disposition of HUD-Owned Projects, and the Section 202/8 ...

The Breeze

The Breeze
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 20:12:29 -0800

Urban renewal got its start in the early 1950s when the Housing Act of 1949 gave federal funding to cities to purchase land and buildings they considered to be in poor condition. Following changes made in the Housing Act of 1954, more and more cities ...
Daily Press
Sat, 23 Aug 2014 12:07:30 -0700

When he signed the Housing Act of 1949 into law, President Harry Truman believed it would establish "as a national objective the achievement as soon as feasible of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family." The United ...

Novogradac Company LLP

Novogradac Company LLP
Mon, 03 Nov 2014 09:06:21 -0800

Similarly, HERA allowed volume cap LIHTC-financed developments in rural areas as defined by section 520 of the Housing Act of 1949 to use the higher of local AMI or the national nonmetro median income as the income qualification standard. Extending ...
Columbia Heart Beat
Tue, 02 Dec 2014 05:55:19 -0800

In concert with city ordinances and state statutes, three federal laws codified Urban Renewal as national policy: The Housing Act of 1949; the Housing Act of 1954; and the Federal Highway Act of 1956. Black Americans in Columbia as elsewhere still ...
Kewanee Star Courier
Sat, 19 Jul 2014 16:14:06 -0700

The Housing Act of 1949 marked the second large wave of housing initiatives. Rent subsidy was established as well as income and rent restrictions. It was at this point that priority selection criteria included targeting the very low-income households.

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight