Housing Act of 1937

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Housing Act of 1937
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to provide financial assistance to the States and political subdivisions thereof for the elimination of unsafe and insanitary housing conditions, for the eradication of slums, for the provision of decent, safe, and sanitary dwellings for families of low income, and for the reduction of unemployment and the stimulation of business activity, to create a United States Housing Authority, and for other purposes.
Enacted bythe 75th United States Congress
EffectiveSeptember 1, 1937
Citations
Public law75-412
Statutes at Large50 Stat. 888
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1685 by Robert F. Wagner (D-NY) on July 23, 1937
  • Committee consideration by Senate Education and Labor, Senate Banking and Currency
  • Passed the Senate on August 6, 1937 (64-16)
  • Passed the House on August 18, 1937 (275-86)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on August 19, 1937; agreed to by the House on August 20, 1937 (Agreed) and by the Senate on August 21, 1937 (Agreed)
  • Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 1, 1937

The Housing Act of 1937 (Pub.L. 75–412, 50 Stat. 888, enacted September 1, 1937), formally the "United States Housing Act of 1937" and sometimes called the Wagner-Steagall Act, provided for subsidies to be paid from the U.S. government to local public housing agencies (LHAs) to improve living conditions for low-income families.

Federal Housing Administrator Stewart McDonald (right) discusses with Senator Robert F. Wagner, author of The Wagner Housing Act

The act created the United States Housing Authority within the US Department of the Interior. The act builds on the National Housing Act of 1934, which created the Federal Housing Administration. Both the 1934 Act and the 1937 Act were influenced by American housing reformers of the period, with Catherine Bauer Wurster chief among them. Bauer drafted much of this legislation and served as a Director in the United States Housing Authority, the agency created by the 1937 Act to control the payment of subsidies, for two years.

The sponsoring legislators were Representative Henry B. Steagall, Democrat of Alabama, and Senator Robert F. Wagner, Democrat of New York.

Although initially controversial, it gained acceptance and provisions of the Act have remained, but in amended form.

Major Amendments[edit]

The Housing Act of 1949, enacted during the Harry Truman administration set new postwar national goals for decent living environments; it also funded "slum clearance" and the urban renewal projects and created many national public housing programs. In 1965, the Public Housing Administration, the US Housing Authority, and the House and Home Financing Agency were all swept into the newly formed and reorganized United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 was a United States federal law, which, among other provisions, amended the Housing Act of 1937 to create Section 8 housing,[1] authorized "Entitlement Communities Grants" to be awarded by HUD, and created the National Institute of Building Sciences.[2]

In 1998, the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) was passed and signed by President Bill Clinton. Following the frame of welfare reform, QHWRA developed new programs to transition families out of public housing, developed a home ownership model for Section 8, and expanded the HOPE VI program to replace traditional public housing units.

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