Even though the United States didn't enter WWII until 1941, the writing was on the wall much earlier. As the country prepared to shift into full-scale wartime production, a huge deficit in housing needed to be addressed.
Let's say you're a government and need to build some housing ASAP or risk losing the biggest war in all of human history. Here are a few methods you might consider:
1. Buy land and build permanent homes. Or entire neighborhoods. Or entire cities.
2. Build temporary homes.
3. Prioritize materials for war-related private projects.
4. Provide financial incentives for property owners to create additional units in existing buildings.
In the end the Federal government did all of these things and more. Numerous agencies were created to administer these programs, some with Congressional authorization and some without. It wasn't unusual for the administration of one program to be folded into another, based on funding and legislation. There must be historians who specialize in Federal housing policy, but I don't envy them.
|Looking East from N.Wolcott. Behind the trees are the El and Metra embankments.|
Given the strict cost limits, the design of the buildings is worth noting. You can't get much simpler than a rectangular box with a pitched roof. They have common brick walls with simple arched limestone entrances. Any architectural detail is the result of projecting brick string courses of various designs. It looks to me like a scaled-down version of the Art Moderne style.
|Defense Homes for West Rogers Park (Chicago Tribune, 4/19/42)|