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Public Purpose in Public Housing: An Anachronism Reburied (with Addison A. Mueller), 52 Yale Law Journal 42 (1942)


"No immediate aim of the American people" is "more widely supported and more insistently voiced than the desire to attack the social evils of the slums and to provide decent living quarters for at least a portion of the underprivileged." So wrote the United States Senate Committee on Education and Labor in its unanimous recommendation of the United States Housing Act of 1937. Indeed it is now common knowledge that the all too recent slum clearance, low-rent public housing program of the United States Housing Authority, and of its some 600 cooperating local authorities, is but one of many related governmental responses—required by the failure of private institutions—to insistent public demands. In a country where "every third home" is substandard on "simple physical grounds alone" ("without considering overcrowding"), every needed and relevant power of government—planning, spending, taxing, condemning, owning, lending, policing, regulating—has been marshalled at every level—federal, regional, state, and local—for the achievement of a new public goal: the provision of healthful homes, in well planned communities, for all citizens, at prices that they can afford to pay. In addition to the United States Housing Authority and its cooperating state and local authorities, a host of other new agencies—the HOLC, the FHA, the Federal Home Loan Bank System, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, the Farm Security Administration, the TVA, and now the National Housing Agency and the Rent Division of OPA—all bear indubitable testimony to the fact that "housing" has in recent years in the United States achieved the status of a governmental function.

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