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
…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.
I say that when you set up that type of corporation and you set up that sort of insurance company and operate it in the manner proposed, you are going to close every building association in the United States. They cannot survive under it to save their souls. This is the heart of this whole bill.
This act would affect building conditions in my State. While in many districts the population is quite dense, the districts are widely scattered. The irrigation districts are densely populated, but then there will be wide areas where there is practically no population at all. When you limit the radius to 50 miles you are putting out of business a good many of our building and loan associations because they cannot operate in an area supported by the business they will have in the small areas covered in this bill.
Taken as a whole, the effect of the creation of the insurance corporation is to put the Government directly into the lending business, not only for the repair of homes, but for the installation of frigidaires, water heaters, and other equipment, and as to which there would be no lien whatever. Furthermore, it puts the Government directly into the business of lending as much as 80 percent for the construction of new homes, and an unlimited percent for low-cost housing. The practical application of this act would be to drive existing lending institutions out of business; and by reason of loans where there is no security, will mean untold losses to the Government.