Urban Population Growth Now Exceeds Suburbia in USA
The “old stereotypes” ... are the “incomplete communities,” the single family homes in single-use residential neighborhoods that became defined after WWII as the American Dream. They are connected by wide roads and freeways, and were built farther and farther out from downtowns. These are the neighborhoods that were promoted first by the loan guarantees provided by the G.I. Bill, and supported by the mortgage tax deduction, the lending policies of private banks and a massive road-building program, which together with other factors prompted an exodus from cities to the suburbs.
As Buzz Bissinger writes in the 1998 book A Prayer for the City: “The FHA, founded in 1934, was intended to help revive the nation’s dormant housing industry during the New Deal. But the ultimate influence of the FHA and its housing cousin, the Veterans Administration, went far beyond that, making the dream of home ownership available to millions of middle-class Americans, just as long as it was a dream that largely confined itself to the suburbs and not to the older cities.”
Mark I. Gelfand provides more detail in A Nation of Cities, a book published in 1975, explaining that the Federal Housing Administration “red-lined vast areas of the inner cities, refusing to insure mortgages where the neighborhoods were blighted or susceptible to blight.” Blight was defined not only in terms of the physical quality of the neighborhood, but also its racial and ethnic composition. “This action practically guaranteed that these districts would deteriorate still further and drag cities down with them.”
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