Housing Restoration and Displacement

November 24, 1978

Report Outline
Whites' Return to the Cities
Government Role in Housing
New Factors Affecting Ownership
Special Focus

Whites' Return to the Cities

Economic Impetus for City Transformation

Scars of neglect are still very much in evidence in most American cities. Houses in many urban neighborhoods are rundown, apartments are overcrowded, and unemployment and crime rates remain high. However, important changes are also occurring. The so-called “white flight” to the suburbs that began after World War II and reached its peak during the 1960s has slowed considerably in recent years and in some cases has been reversed. Old inner-city neighborhoods that once were the object of social and political rejection have become highly desirable both as real estate investments and places to live.

Little by little, the middle class is returning to the nation's long-neglected urban centers. While precise national data on central city reinvestment have not yet been compiled, available information suggests that neighborhood redevelopment has increased substantially in the 1970s. A 1977 survey by the Urban Land Institute on housing activity in major U.S. cities found significant investment in three-quarters of those with populations of 500,000 or more. The study estimated that some 50,000 center-city housing units were restored from 1967 to 1975 — and that the number probably has increased since 1975.

With the cost of new houses expected to go up by as much as 10 percent in 1979, the impetus for the back-to-the-city movement is attributable largely to economics — it has become cheaper to buy an old house and repair it than to build or buy a new one. Many municipalities, conscious of the potential for added tax dollars, are encouraging migration into urban neighborhoods. They often make available low-cost city houses to non-commercial buyers who agree to refurbish them and live in them for a specified period. In such areas as Boston's South End, Washington's Adams-Morgan neighborhood, Philadelphia's Queen Village, Seattle's Capitol Hill and Baltimore's Fells Point section, restoration is well under way.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Apr. 02, 2021  Evictions and COVID-19
Mar. 02, 2018  Affordable Housing Shortage
Nov. 06, 2015  Housing Discrimination
Feb. 20, 2015  Gentrification
Apr. 05, 2013  Homeless Students
Dec. 14, 2012  Future of Homeownership
Dec. 18, 2009  Housing the Homeless
Nov. 02, 2007  Mortgage Crisis Updated
Feb. 09, 2001  Affordable Housing
Jan. 06, 1989  Affordable Housing: Is There Enough?
Oct. 30, 1981  Creative Home Financing
Nov. 07, 1980  Housing the Poor
Dec. 21, 1979  Rental Housing Shortage
Nov. 24, 1978  Housing Restoration and Displacement
Apr. 22, 1977  Housing Outlook
Sep. 26, 1973  Housing Credit Crunch
Aug. 06, 1969  Communal Living
Jul. 09, 1969  Private Housing Squeeze
Mar. 04, 1966  Housing for the Poor
Apr. 10, 1963  Changing Housing Climate
Sep. 26, 1956  Prefabricated Housing
Sep. 02, 1949  Cooperative Housing
May 14, 1947  Liquidation of Rent Controls
Dec. 17, 1946  National Housing Emergency, 1946-1947
Mar. 05, 1946  New Types of Housing
Oct. 08, 1941  Rent Control
Aug. 02, 1938  The Future of Home Ownership
Sep. 05, 1934  Building Costs and Home Renovation
Nov. 20, 1933  Federal Home Loans and Housing
Nov. 17, 1931  Housing and Home Ownership
Low Income and Public Housing
Real Estate
Regional Planning and Urbanization