Building the Chicago Housing Authority

in Blueprint for Disaster

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780226360850
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226360874 | DOI:
Building the Chicago Housing Authority

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The reformers who wrote the Housing Act of 1937 soon took the helm of the new United States Housing Authority to implement their handiwork. Nathan Straus, a housing reformer who built one of the Public Works Administration's few limited-dividend projects, was chosen to head the new agency, while in Chicago, Mayor Edward Kelly established the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) in January 1937. The agency quickly grew to be one of the city's most progressive governmental organizations, first championing housing reform and, after a few years, the rights of African Americans. Robert Taylor became chairman in 1942, a position he held until 1950. Elizabeth Wood was selected for the important role of day-to-day manager. During the 1930s, the CHA's mission was to clear and rebuild slums in the progressive mold. But during the war years, Taylor shifted direction and pushed the CHA to come to the aid of African Americans. The seeds of public housing's future struggles were solidly planted by 1945.

Keywords: Housing Act; Public Works Administration; Chicago; Edward Kelly; Chicago Housing Authority; Robert Taylor; African Americans; public housing; slums

Chapter.  12387 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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