Sunday, May 1, 2011

Housing Reform

Fearing the poor population would not be contained much longer, White residents decided to fix the problem. This led to a “slum clearance” program created by Baltimore’s Public Works Administration (PWA). The plan was to replace the worst houses in Baltimore with better low cost housing for the poor. A PWA committee surveyed Baltimore and chose five of the worst areas and planned for their rebuilding. These areas had particularly high Black populations and disease rates. The map below diagrams the areas chosen to be cleared.

(Baltimore Housing Authority, "The Geography of Blight, Choosing Sites for Slum Clearance," in Mary Ellen Hayward, Baltimore's Alley Houses: Homes for Working People Since the 1780s (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 2008), 243)

The project began in 1940 and was funded by the federal government, yet, there were numerous issues. A reoccurring problem was the relocation of residents during construction. Some residents misunderstood the program and believed they would be able to move back into the homes once construction was complete. However, many were forced to move to areas just as bad because the housing authority did not provide them new housing in time. The ultimate defeat was during WWII when the federal government prohibited housing production unless the houses were for defense workers. The sudden focus of building for defense workers caused low-cost housing programs to be halted as well. Housing developments such as the Armistead and the Perkins which were meant for both black and white low income residents were instead used for workers who came to Baltimore.

No comments:

Post a Comment