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

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

Mr. Chairman, the country does not want to give away its birthright to capital, and this sets up capital and a political organization at the top of it. It is the marriage of capital and politics, and you cannot escape it to save your life.

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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

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

Believe such legislation would eventually seriously injure home-financing institutions which have been in existence in the country over a hundred years.

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Telegram from G.A. Mortimer, State Building and Loan Association, Inc. in the statement of Hon. Compton I. White, Idaho Congressman, Testimony, House Committee on Banking and Currency.
05/18/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): National Housing Act