Slum Clearance: 1932–1952

November 22, 1952

Report Outline
Pattern of City Slums and Blighted Areas
Governmental Efforts to Eliminate Slums
Redevelopment Prospects; Threat of New Slums

Pattern of City Slums and Blighted Areas

The first piece of Fair Deal social legislation to come under heavy attack when the 83rd Congress meets for its first session in January seems likely to be the public housing title of the National Housing Act of 1949. Related slum-clearance provisions of the present law have met little opposition from any quarter; they provide federal subsidies for clearing slum areas, which may then be redeveloped by private enterprise. But the public housing provisions are condemned by the building and real estate industries as “socialism” and a prime expression of the “collectivist philosophy” of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.

A post-election statement of policy adopted by the National Association of Real Estate Boards at its 1952 convention, Miami, Nov. 10–15, declared public housing to be “contrary to the beat interests of the country and its people”. A resolution by the delegates asked a comprehensive investigation by the new Congress of all public housing projects to determine full production costs, management costs, and tax-revenue losses. Another resolution called for immediate liquidation of the public housing program and sale of the properties to private owners. The convention was told by Rep. Cole (R., Kan.) in an address, Nov. 12, that public housing had been “sold to the American people in the guise of slum clearance by power-hungry planners”.

Supporters of the combined slum clearance and public housing programs contend that slum demolition cannot move forward unless displaced families are provided with shelter which is within their means, and that a primar: source of such accommodations must be public housing. The first clash in Congress may come on proposals to strike appropriations for the public housing program from the annual Independent Offices supply bill. The National Housing Conference, Inc., an organization which would like to see that program expanded, said in a statement immediately after the Nov. 4 election: “The real estate lobby can be beaten to its knees in Washington, just as it was beaten in 1952 in New Jersey and other areas. The goal for 1953 must be 135,000 dwellings—nothing less”. This was the annual average construction authorized by Congress in 1949 for the six ensuing years.

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