“A Decent Home
The date was June 22, 1944, a Thursday, slightly more than two weeks after the Allied invasion on the coast of Normandy and a little less than fifteen months from the end of World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat at a desk surrounded by members of Congress and the American Legion and, with a sweeping and heavy stroke of ten pens, signed into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act—the GI Bill of Rights. In so doing, he changed forever where and how American families would live.
Many of those families would leave small, rented apartments in the cities at war’s end and move into small, cookie-cutter houses they owned on land where once grew tomatoes or potatoes, where cows once chewed grass, where row upon row of trees once stood, their branches brought low by apples or peaches. In the fifties and sixties, tens of thousands of farm acres in America disappeared under cement blocks and black macadam.
The statistics are incredible and historic. In the United States, the number of families who owned homes increased from 44 percent in 1940 to 60 percent by 1960, the greatest increase over a