Patterns of Segregation in Low-Income Housing, 1932-1963
Having explored the concept and measurement of segregation in low-income housing, we now turn to a detailed review of the patterns of segregation in federally subsidized housing from 1932 to 1963. As this review will show, housing assistance for the poor in the United States has consistently been characterized by racial and economic segregation. Individual buildings and projects were segregated by race in nearly all PHAs. During World War II, African-Americans and other racial minorities often were denied units in federally subsidized housing projects as a matter of public policy. The facilities were generally concentrated in neighborhoods with high poverty rates.
Between 1934 and 1937, the Public Works Administration (PWA) contracted for 51 housing projects containing 21,640 units in 36 cities. 1 Forty- nine of these projects were built in the continental United States, the other 2 in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 2 By 1937, 21 of the 49 continental projects (with 10,642 units, or 49% of all units) were occupied exclusively by white tenants and 15 (with 5,852, or 27%) exclusively by African-American tenants, while 7 (with 1,527, or 7%) were racially mixed or rather bisected, with tenants assigned by race to separate buildings or wings, and only 6 (with 3,290 units, or 15%) were racially integrated. 3