The African-American Housing Movement

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In this historiographical essay, I aim to discuss and bring forward issues dealing with the United States’ (U.S.) complex history between African-Americans and housing. Urban social policy and housing are intertwined into the fabric of American history. In the Twentieth-century, the New Deal policies and programs of the 1930s allowed the federal government to adopt wholesale changes to the existing urban landscape. Large-scale federal intervention in housing policy had positive effects and New Deal era housing policies represented a distinct break from previous decades of minimal federal intervention. As the country, the urban poor, and migratory patterns of African-Americans increased socioeconomic tensions in urban spaces, politicians and…show more content…
federal housing policy has its beginnings in the Progressive movement and the Modern Housing movement. The Progressive movement saw publicly-owned housing as a way to ameliorate the basic conditions of impoverished families. Purging slum developments in urban spaces was also another motive. The main emphasis of the Progressive movement was the debilitating and dangerous conditions in America’s most disadvantaged slums. The environment there was seen as detrimental to the poor and especially to children forced to grow up in squalor and disease. Housing reformers of this period highlighted the severe overcrowding, poor sanitation, and the absence of sunlight in many properties. Many of the ills of urban life were seen as being involuntary and almost compulsory for the…show more content…
As embodied in the work and words of Catherine Bauer, this vision of public housing, which came to be known as the Modern Housing movement, followed a European idea that supported a nonmarket sector of housing to provide decent and stable accommodations for the working class. There were important differences between this model and the one advocated by the Progressives. The modern housing movement saw housing more as a public utility than as a social service initiative. The housing reformers wished to target the needs of the working class and build a European style system of government housing for workers that involved a range of union-based organizations, cooperatives, and nonprofit housing associations as well as local government agencies. Affordable housing would be established and run as a type of public utility permanently outside of the profit framework of the private-sector. The vision of the housing reformers was more wide-ranging than that of the Progressives. In other words, housing reform was not solely tied to slum clearance or targeted to the

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