February 01, 2008

Enter the Housing Industry, Stage Right: A Working Paper on the History of Housing Policy

Alexander von Hoffman

W08-1: It is all but forgotten today, but about fifty years ago a movement to prevent and eradicate urban slums spread across the United States. In cities across the country, civic groups and local officials campaigned to implement an array of building and sanitation codes and led drives to clean up yards and renovate homes. These code enforcement and fix-it-up efforts inspired a 1954 federal law, which instituted enforcement and rehabilitation as the national policy of “urban renewal.” Yet they were overshadowed by clearance projects that demolished large areas of America’s urban neighborhoods for new public housing, luxury residences, civic centers, and highways. Despite its neglect, the code enforcement and rehabilitation movement was significant, if for no other reason than it introduced the American real estate and housing industry—hitherto known for its rock-ribbed political conservatism—to the idea of creating social policies…

Category: Working Papers

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