Public Housing in America

Public Housing in America

Public Housing in America

Public Housing in America

Excerpt

For all the newness of public housing proposals and programs, there is nothing new about the housing problem. It has been with us for a long time and will in all probability continue to be with us for a good many years to come.

As far back as the early days of the republic, certain aspects of the housing problem were of grave concern to the nation's elder statesmen. In 1790 Thomas Jefferson called attention to the inadvisability of the construction of houses above a given height, pointing out that low houses offered the best health conditions and made fires less hazardous. It was with such considerations in mind that, a year later, George Washington approved a regulation for the District of Columbia which restricted the height of house walls to forty feet. Shortly after the turn of the century, housing conditions began to be matters of vital public interest. As a result of the industrial revolution and a marked increase of immigration, great streams of humanity poured into the nation's seaboard towns and cities--and necessarily into dwellings inadequate quantitatively and qualitatively. The consequences became so serious that considerable public opinion was aroused in 1834 by a report by Gerritt Forbes, New York City health inspector, about the relationship of bad housing to the spread of epidemics and the increase of death rates.

From that year to this, the housing problem has been the subject of hundreds of studies, investigations, reports, articles, resolutions, laws. To judge by the total energy and literature involved, few other problems have absorbed as much attention in the United States during the past century.

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