Post 1980s

Before the 1980s, in the decades following the New Deal, homelessness was rare and largely isolated to older men in skid row districts of major cities. In his chronicle of American homelessness, historian Kenneth Kusmer says homelessness in the decades following World War II was less common than at any time since the mid-18th century. … Continued


Before the widespread adoption of the term “homeless” to refer to people who do not have a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” (42 U.S.C. § 11301, et seq. 1994), a variety of different terms were used to describe this population of people. These terms included “bums,” “vagrants,” “tramps,” and “transients” or “gypsies.” In this … Continued


In the 1970s, a global recession accelerated deindustrialization in America, shunting many high-wage manufacturing workers into unemployment and poverty. If there was cheap housing to catch them, it was rapidly disappearing. Nixon had frozen federal subsidized housing programs, and a national gentrification program known as “urban renewal” was destroying affordable urban housing around the country, … Continued


Urban renewal projects changed the landscape of American cities in the 1950s and ‘60s. The federal government gave cities billions of dollars to tear down blighted areas and replace them with affordable housing. In many places, there was a net loss of housing as city leaders decided instead to build offices or shopping malls, or … Continued


President Roosevelt signed the United States Housing Act (the “Wagner-Steagall Act”) into law on September 1, 1937 [1]. The purpose of the law was, “To provide financial assistance to [state and local governments] for the elimination of unsafe and unsanitary housing conditions, for the eradication of slums, for the provision of decent, safe, and sanitary … Continued


The Great Depression creates homelessness and unemployment for people of all races and ethnicities in the U.S. on a scale not seen before or since.


The Mississippi River floods, displacing hundreds of thousands of people from Illinois to Louisiana and creating mass homelessness and speeding along the Great Migration. President Herbert Hoover oversees the recovery, which includes segregated camps for Whites and Blacks. Black men, under armed guard, are held captive and forced to rebuild levees in Mississippi, Louisiana, and … Continued


The Great Chicago Fire, The San Francisco earthquake, the massive flooding of the Mississippi in the 1920s from Ohio through New Orleans displaced over 1.3 million people. The Drought of the 30s in Oklahoma and Texas, Hurricane Katrina, are just a few examples of disasters that affected millions of people’s households.


A 1917 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court prompted a series of policies that changed things. In its ruling, the court struck down segregationist zoning laws, so Austin and cities across the South started developing new policies to isolate minorities.


Institutionalized housing discrimination—restrictive covenants, redlining, Federal Housing Administration and G.I. bill loans, among other national and local policies—result in entrenched housing segregation across America, and the exclusion of people of color from home ownership and nearly eliminate the potential for multigenerational wealth accumulation.