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Public Housing

D. Forbes-Edelen and J. Wright

Subject Sociology » Stratification and Inequality, Urban, Rural and Community Sociology

Key-Topics housing, poverty

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Public housing policy in the United States emerged out of economic necessity rather than to redress a collective housing need. Established in 1937, public housing was a response to ideological, economic, sociopolitical, and demographic forces that emerged during the Great Depression. Some of these forces and their associated controversies included: ideological differences regarding who should provide housing for needy citizens – whether it should be government or the private business sector; discriminatory practices such as redlining and blockbusting among real estate, mortgage, and banking interests whose actions created concentrations of poor, segregated, African American ghettos; demographic changes supported by the suburbanization of America; an increasingly conservative fiscal and political climate, which has contributed to systematic, chronic defunding of public housing initiatives, depletion of the public housing stock, and deterioration of existing units; and the unintentional effects of housing policies intended to help the poor but which functioned as disincentives for transitioning out of social assistance programs including welfare and public housing itself. The first Housing Act of 1934 established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and was designed to resuscitate the real estate and finance markets during the Great Depression. The FHA and later the Veterans Administration ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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