Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

January 20, 2016

The Founding & Evolution of HUD

By David Reiss

Omer Wazir

I had previously blogged about HUD at 50, a hefty tome filled with a lot of interesting chapters. Today, I focus on Chapter 1, written byJill Khadduri, The Founding and Evolution of HUD: 50 Years, 1965-2015 (starting at page 5). The abstract for the chapter reads,

This is an institutional history of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), focused on the development of HUD’s major policies and programs over the 50 years from its founding in 1965 to 2015. The chapter emphasizes how the successive secretaries of HUD and the political administrations they operated within shaped the agency and its programmatic responses to housing and urban issues. It attempts to place the evolution of HUD within the contexts of the housing, housing finance, and community development industries; other governmental institutions, including the U.S. Congress and other levels of government; and the most urgent housing and urban problems perceived during each secretary’s tenure. This chapter benefits from hindsight on which policies and programs appear to have had lasting importance. However, it does not focus on the outcomes of HUD policies and is not an assessment of HUD’s effectiveness in dealing with the issues of poverty, urban distress, housing quality and affordability, and fair housing over the past 50 years. (5)

There will be a lot that is familiar to housing nerds in this chapter, but its real value lies in putting all of the pieces together in a coherent narrative, charting the big changes in federal housing policy. How was federal housing policy related to urban policy? How was housing policy related to housing finance policy?  Where do Community Development Block Grants fit in?  How about housing vouchers? Fair housing policy? Enterprise Zones and Empowerment Zones? How important was homeownership vis-à-vis rental housing policy? When did special needs populations and the homeless get more resources? How did large-scale disaster relief fit into HUD’s mission? These issues, and more, are addressed and placed in broader context. Bottom line for housing nerds and aspiring housing nerds: read it, or at least skim it.

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