National Housing Act

National Housing Act

The National Housing Act was passed by Congress, and signed into law by FDR, in 1934. It created the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), an agency designed to boost loans for building houses. Before the Great Depression, the federal government had very little involvement in the housing market, so the FHA role was groundbreaking. 

This bill is one of those hidden pieces of legislation that radically transformed the possibility for the American working class to have a middle-class life at home, all built on federal guarantees to regulation of the mortgage industry and the mechanics to push money into the hands of homeowners. It propped up whole industries and paved the way to the suburbs that brought workers out of slum and into new (or improved) homes.

Cry Wolf Quotes

I am speaking first because I am a home owner, and every member of my family has been a home owner, and my home is not a failure. I say that if this bill goes through that my home will be a failure, and every other home built in America on materials that have been used for 1,500 years, and I say that the United States should not be an experimental agency for those who wish to have them exploit scientific houses. I say further that the American home can be protected by Congress, and Congress only, and if this Government is to survive as a democracy, for God’s sake, kill this bill.

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Statement of Don A. Loftus, President Homes Permanesque, Cleveland, OH, Testimony, House Committee on Banking and Currency.
05/18/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): National Housing Act

…this board of 5 to 7 men in Washington can determine what is socially desirable housing in every community in the land, and under the powers conferred they can make their judgments effective. Call it by any name you choose the smell of such regimentation of American homes will be the same in the nostrils of the American home-owning public.

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Miss Marie L. Obenauer, Joint Chairman, Board of Governors of Home Owners’ Protective Enterprise, Testimony. Committee on Banking and Currency. Senate.
05/16/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): National Housing Act

There were many reasons why many of us who ordinarily would not like regimentation of industry—and we do not like regimentation of agriculture or any of the other instrumentalities of production—saw reasons under the emergency why it should be done, as an emergency say. But none of the reasons for which that was done in that character of industry holds good for any bill that will lead to a regimentation of American citizens, to say what he shall do with his individual home.

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Miss Marie L. Obenauer, Joint Chairman, Board of Governors of Home Owners’ Protective Enterprise, Testimony. Committee on Banking and Currency. Senate.
05/16/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): National Housing Act

You call it a National Housing Act. I hope, if you pass this bill—God grant that you don’t, but if you do, I hope you will change it from ‘National Housing Act’ and call it ‘National housing bill’, with the accent on the ‘bill’; because the only possible excuse for calling this a housing act is that the home owners of the country are going to pay the bill, and they are going to pay in two ways. They are going to pay as home owners, and then they are going to pay again as taxpayers. There is not another excuse for calling this a housing act. You might as well call a savings-bank law a baby-fund law; an insurance law, a widows’ and orphans’ fund, as to call this thing a housing act, drawn in the interest of the home owner. If you want any other evidence of it, I will call your attention to the fact that every one of the nongovernmental witnesses who have appeared before this committee are either money-lending brokers—most of them were that—or they are the business men who make money out of home owners.

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Miss Marie L. Obenauer, Joint Chairman, Board of Governors of Home Owners’ Protective Enterprise, Testimony. Committee on Banking and Currency. Senate.
05/18/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): National Housing Act