The History of Housing Projects

United States Housing Act

In the depths of the Great Depression, many families became homeless and many others were at risk of homelessness. Nationwide, there was great concern about this situation, which led to the passage of the United States Housing Act of 1937. The Housing Act, also known as the Wagner Bill, instituted the United States Housing Authority within the Department of the Interior. Its mission was to provide public housing for low-income families. The Housing Authority was to contract with local housing officials to construct dwellings. In 1937, New Orleans became the first city in the United States to benefit under the Wagner Act.


The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 was created as a cabinet level agency. The HUD’s mission is to provide a decent, safe, and sanitary home and sustainable living environment for every American by creating opportunities for ownership; providing assistance for low-income persons; working to create, rehabilitate, and maintain the nation’s affordable housing; enforcing the nation’sfair housing laws; helping the homeless; spurring economic growth in distressed neighborhoods; and helping local communities meet their development needs.

Ensuring environmental justice is a priority of HUD’s mission. HUD promotes environmental quality in public housing, federally-assisted rental housing, and homeownership programs to ensure that low-income and minority families and individuals will have safe and healthy start in order to achieve greater self-sufficiency and independence. HUD strives to support sound environmental considerations in community development and housing policies that, at the same time, will preserve housing affordability and encourage rural and urban economic growth and private sector



The HOPE VI Program began in 1992, it was developed as a result of recommendations by National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which was charged with proposing a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing. The Commission recommended revitalization in three general areas: physical improvements, management improvements, and social and community services to address resident needs.

This program was the program that began the change from public housing projects to mixed income housing developments. New Orleans received grants from this program to convert two projects (Desire and St. Thomas) years before the storm. It continued on this path after the storm, receiving grants from this program for all 6 of the projects under redevelopment. Moreover, using the health and safety policies of this program as reason for redevelopment.

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