Credit: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, William Thomas, 1950
In 1947, William J. Levitt developed single-family, tract housing using federal funds. Built as affordable housing for World War I| veterans and their families, the first Levittown was built in suburban Long Island, New York. Similar developments for whites only were built in Pennsylvania and New Jersey between 1952 and 1963. The Levittowns became the model for real estate developers across the country and helped establish a pattern of racial discriminationpolicies and practices that harm and disadvantage a group and its members. More
in housing that persists even today.
Returning World War II veterans spurred a population and housing boom driven in part by benefits from the Gl bill. The economic demands of the post-war boom and the burgeoning Civil Rights movementLegal and other efforts led by African Americans against racism and segregation and for the... More led to conflicts over discrimination in housing, jobs and education. The Federal Housing Administration, which instituted policies that reinforced patterns of segregation, routinely denied low-interest loans to non-whites. The experience of fighting for freedom in Europe and then returning to a country where discrimination and opportunities were limited fostered discontent for returning black Gs. The legacy of post-war economic discrimination contributed to the wealth gap between whites and non-whites that we see today. One of the most important factors that contributed to the wealth gap was the federal housing policy. This policy endorsed redlining and discrimination in sales, financing and homeowners insurance, is reflected in the unequal rates of home ownership even today.