Table of Contents
Urban Studies Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 985264, 12 pages
Research Article

Public Housing Construction and the Cities: 1937–1967

Heller College of Business, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL 60605, USA

Received 15 June 2011; Accepted 10 August 2011

Academic Editor: Andrejs Skaburskis

Copyright © 2011 John F. McDonald. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Public housing advocates argue that the nation should expand the federal public housing program as part of an effort to increase the supply of affordable rental housing. This paper examines federal public housing construction in the largest US cities over the period 1937–1967, a period during which the public housing program was the primary program to provide low-income households with affordable rental housing. Public housing is found to depend upon the population level of the city, factors that characterize the housing stock as of 1950, the poverty level in the city, and the size of the nonwhite population in the city. The National Commission on Urban Problems (National commission on urban problems 1968, page 128) found that this supply response meant that “… the great need of the large central cities for housing for poor families was largely unmet.” Changes in racial segregation from 1940 to 1960 are found to be unrelated to public housing construction. While the current situation is different in many respects from circumstances of these earlier decades, a renewed effort to supply public housing might produce similar outcomes.