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

Now what need is there for doing this sort of thing? I hold in my hand, Mr. Chairman, a section of last night’s Star, which I have cut out. Here are six reputable loaning agencies in Washington, one of them representing the Metropolitan Life, another the Prudential, another an insurance company on its own initiative, who are loaning, and they are advertising for borrowers. Why load us with the expense and with the burden of this bill?

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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

The enactment of the foregoing bill as introduced would, in our opinion, eventually ruin the original home thrift institutions, such as ours, and approximately 11,000 others in the United States holding the savings of 10,000,000 of our people in the aggregate sum of approximately $8,000,000,000.

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Telegram from H.J. Hull 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

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.

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Maco Stewart, Galveston, TX, Attorney, Testimony, Committee on Banking and Currency. Senate.
05/16/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): National Housing Act