Slum Clearance and Urban Renewal in the United States [report]

William Collins, Katharine Shester
2011 unpublished
Please do not circulate without authors' permission. Abstract: Title I of the Housing Act of 1949 established a federally subsidized program that helped cities clear areas of existing buildings for redevelopment, rehabilitate deteriorating structures, complete comprehensive city plans, and establish and enforce building codes. The program ended in 1974, but not before financing over 2,000 urban renewal projects and generating great controversy. We use an instrumental variable strategy to
more » ... strategy to measure the effects of urban renewal funding on several city-level labor market and housing market outcomes. The preliminary results indicate that the program had positive and economically significant effects on a number of outcomes. We caution that the results do not imply that urban renewal, as implemented under Title I, was an equitable or optimal approach to dealing with central-city problems. No new projects were funded under Title I after 1974. 4 By that time, local authorities had been awarded federal support for more than 2,100 distinct urban renewal projects with grants totaling approximately $51 billion (in 2007 dollars), as well as smaller sums for related urban renewal programs (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] 1974a, p. 15). 5 This sum of federal grants for projects understates the magnitude of the investments associated with the program's operation: first, because the public funds typically just cleared the way for redevelopment, which entailed an unknown amount of subsequent investment; second, because the federal grants covered only a portion of the costs for planning, assembling, and clearing land for projects; and third, because the range of urban renewal "programs" was broader than the funding for specific "projects." As of June 30, 1966, the last date on which detailed data are available, approved projects had cleared (or intended to clear) over 400,000 housing units, forcing the relocation of over 300,000 families, just over half of whom were nonwhite. 6
doi:10.3386/w17458 fatcat:wdc6rornfba7xczsiftasftrxm