JA Stoloff: A Brief History of Public HousingIn this paper, I will briefly discuss the background and origins of the federal publichousing program. The federal public housing program has the reputation as being a decayingdumping ground for housing some of the poorest families in the US. In fact, this shorthistory will show that program has evolved significantly over time, but was rooted in a veryidealistic and paternalistic view of helping the working class, not necessarily the worst off segments of society. The purpose of public housing, as well as the financing and design, haschanged greatly since the passage of the 1937 Housing Act. Public housing was originallybuilt on a relatively small scale as two and three story walk-ups and garden apartments,which were financed through bond initiatives and operated by setting rents to cover costs.Beginning in the 1950s, high-rise building styles dominated the program. High rises failedfor families, in most cases, but served the elderly well. By the 1970s rents were tied toincomes, tenants were more often poor and a financing gap emerged, which led to thedeterioration of many units. Today, the federal government is no longer in the business of financing this style of public housing, but a similar goal is met, possibly less effectively,through the low income housing tax credit program.