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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.

Provisions[edit]

The main elements of the Act included:[1]

  • 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.[2]

In Congress, the bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Robert A. Taft.[3]

Legacy[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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."[6]

The federal government spent $13.5 billion on urban redevelopment and slum clearance projects between 1953 and 1986.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Summary of Provisions of the National Housing Act of 1949
  2. ^ Truman, Harry. 1949 State of the Union address
  3. ^ http://www.mi.vt.edu/data/files/hpd%2011(2)/hpd%2011(2)_editor's%20introduction.pdf, 293
  4. ^ The interstate highway program topped the list
  5. ^ Caro, Robert. The Power Broker. Vintage: 1974, p. 1014.; [1]
  6. ^ 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) [2]
  7. ^ 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.

188 news items

The Advocate

The Advocate
Sat, 30 Apr 2016 20:56:15 -0700

... institutionalizing red-lining; 3) World War II; 4) Tens of thousands of baby boomers; 5) The Federal Aid Highway Act with Interstate-95 bulldozing through, displacing homes, assaulting the fabric of city life; and 6) The Housing Act of 1949 and ...

Salon

Salon
Mon, 18 Apr 2016 02:56:15 -0700

For decades now, these projects, built under the auspices of the Federal Housing Act of 1949, have been permitted by the federal, state and city governments to deteriorate to the point where people are killed by faulty elevators and thousands of ...

The Atlantic

The Atlantic
Wed, 27 Apr 2016 03:52:30 -0700

Whites and blacks once lived in proximity to one another, he said, until the Federal Housing Act of 1949 was passed. That law allowed the city to replace dilapidated housing, and permitted planners to tear down a black neighborhood close to the town's ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Wed, 13 Apr 2016 04:31:33 -0700

The mechanisms were the same in every city, but the outcomes had their own down home spice, like the 9th Ward in New Orleans and Katrina. Crazy coincidence that. You are online. It's all there. Start with the Housing Act of 1949. Really it's gotta be ...

The Huntington News

The Huntington News
Wed, 06 Apr 2016 23:00:00 -0700

According to the BRA's website, urban renewal is a federal government funding program that began with the passage of the Housing Act of 1949. Designed to create housing and promote economic development within the nation's rapidly deteriorating inner ...

News Dispatch

News Dispatch
Sat, 02 Apr 2016 15:52:52 -0700

They organized community members to watch how urban renewal money, stemming from the Federal Housing Act of 1949, was being used. Some of the projects included new curbs, sidewalks and infrastructure. Group members met in church basements and ...

CityLab

CityLab
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 08:33:45 -0700

The Housing Act of 1949, a tentpole of President Harry Truman's Fair Deal, greatly expanded the reach of the public housing program, which was then producing the most popular form of housing (!) in the country. In an effort to kill the bill ...

The Atlantic

The Atlantic
Thu, 22 May 2014 10:56:37 -0700

Before you read this post, read Ta-Nehisi's Coates powerful case for reparations, our cover story this month. In it, TNC (as he is known around here) relentlessly demonstrates the "compounding moral debts" of discriminatory practices, especially around ...
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