Postwar Housing

October 12, 1943

Report Outline
Home Building in Peace and War
Extent and Future of War Housing
Housing Problems After the War
Special Focus

Home Building in Peace and War

Estimates of Accumulated Housing Needs

For the first decade after the close of the war, the Department of Commerce and the United States Chamber of Commerce have agreed in predicting the construction of a million housing units a year in the United States. The Chamber's estimate was made early in the year, and in the light of later surveys some officers of the Chamber now believe the figure too conservative. The National Resources Planning Board, in a pamphlet issued in 1942, made a similar estimate of a million new housing units annually “if they are built in the right places at the right prices.” At no time in its past history has the United States built as many as one million new homes in a single year.

In the postwar decade of the 1920's construction of nonfarm dwellings in the United States averaged over 700,000 units a year. The depression at the close of the decade abruptly reduced this annual volume by 85 per cent and a recovery to the earlier figure has not since been achieved. In the decade ended with Pearl Harbor, which included the worst of the depression years, non-farm home building averaged less than 350,000 units annually. Between the census of 1930 and the census of 1940 the number of non-farm families increased nearly 4,000,000. This would indicate a deficit of 500,000 dwellings accumulated during the decade, without counting necessary replacements of obsolescent structures.

William J. Moll, housing expert of the United States Chamber of Commerce, has calculated that if the average dwelling has a life of 63⅔ years, replacements required for urban families would total about 400,000 units a year. Thus during the last decade the United States would seem to have accumulated, because of increase in the number of families and obsolescence of existing dwellings, a deficiency of 4,500,000 non-farm housing units. While there is some disagreement as to the size of the present housing deficit, all authorities agree that it is increasing steadily under present building materials priorities which confine home building entirely to war housing.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Public Housing
Sep. 10, 1993  Public Housing
May 08, 1987  Low Income Housing
Oct. 28, 1970  Low-Income Housing
Jul. 22, 1964  Public Housing in War on Poverty
Apr. 20, 1955  Public Housing, 1955
Jul. 27, 1948  Public Housing
Oct. 12, 1943  Postwar Housing
Nov. 18, 1936  The Unsolved Housing Problem
Jan. 24, 1935  Low Cost Housing in the United States