The History of Housing in America and it’s Current Issues

Choose from housing, homelessness, or food policy. Trace historical roots (including at least 3 aspects or discrete pieces of legislation) and at least 2 current issues.

 

Historical Roots

In 1937, the Housing Act was passed, which signified the very first time the federal government introduced any housing policies in the United States. The intended outcome of the Housing Act was to encourage more Americans to become homeowners, which would then, in turn, increase the wholesomeness and connectedness of neighborhoods and communities, as well positively stimulate the economy. The Housing Act was amended in 1949 and 1954. The amendment in 1949 centered around urban renewal – particularly, the introduction of public housing after urban areas experienced slum clearances. The 1954 amendment expanded the urban renewals projects introduced in 1949, however, the building of affordable public housing was being avoided, individuals in low socioeconomic status were being displaced, while individuals with more money were being invited into the areas to “revitalize the inner cities” (p. 337).

The Housing and Community Development Act was passed in 1974. The federal government wanted even more renewal in neighborhoods and communities around the country. This bill included nitty-gritty details involving water and sewer systems, but also preserving quaint little historical roots and beautifying urban areas. Lucky for the low-income individuals of society – communities were expected to address their housing needs as well in their master plan for urban renewal.

In 1998, Bill Clinton passed the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act. Sounds reminiscent of another bill? It’s like the sister bill to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The government wanted less of a responsibility to care for it’s citizens, and wanted the citizens to take that responsibility for themselves to better their own lives. Public housing authorities became in charge of deciding what were the requirements for receiving public housing. These requirements were heavily tied into employment status and public housing authorities heavily favored people who were deemed as hard workers that could act as role models for the rest of the community.

 

Current Issues

A real issue occurring in many cities around the United States is gentrification. Individuals who live in urban areas that are low socioeconomic status are being forced out of their homes by people who either buy older properties in the area and remodel and restore them, or buying businesses and flip them into cute and cultural hotspots. This drives up the market value for the surrounding properties and individuals who are and have called the area home can no longer afford to live there with increased rent prices and property taxes. The costs of relocating can be just as devastating as staying.

A second issue with housing in the United States is overcrowding. Because rent and mortgage prices have increased at a rate that is incomparable to the median income of Americans, many families who have lower-incomes can have trouble affording a place to live. So, many families will share housing in attempt to lessen the burden of housing costs. Furthermore, these houses that are occupied by low-income individuals leave much to be desired and are often riddled with issues like lead paint and other poor living conditions.

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