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

…we are convinced that first and most fundamental, the bill sets up machinery which leads straight for Federal regimentation of American home-buying, home building, home finance, and home repair.

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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

…the bill holds little or no relief for the home owner and threatens real harm to the home-owning family.

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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

A mortgage is just one of the things that you cannot guarantee. When the real-estate market completely goes to the bad and crashes, there is not money enough in this country or any other country to sustain mortgages at an even level. They have got to take the go-down, just the same as any other security or any other commodity.

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Harry E. Karr, Real Estate Board of Baltimore, Testimony, Committee on Banking and Currency. Senate.
05/16/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): National Housing Act