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The Housing Act of 1937 (Pub.L. 75–412, 50 Stat. 888, enacted September 1, 1937), sometimes called the Wagner-Steagall Act, provided for subsidies to be paid from the U.S. government to local public housing agencies (LHAs) to improve living conditions for low-income families.
The act created the United States Housing Authority within the United States Department of the Interior. The act builds on the National Housing Act of 1934, which created the Federal Housing Administration. Both the 1934 Act and the 1937 Act were influenced by American housing reformers of the period, with Catherine Bauer chief among them. Bauer drafted much of this legislation and served as a Director in the United States Housing Authority, the agency created by the 1937 Act to control the payment of subsidies, for two years.
Although initially controversial, it gained acceptance and provisions of the Act have remained, but in amended form. The Housing Act of 1949, enacted during the Truman administration set new post-war national goals for decent living environments; it also funded "slum clearance" and the urban renewal projects, and created many national public housing programs. In 1965 the Public Housing Administration, the U.S. Housing Authority, and the House and Home Financing Agency were all swept into the newly formed and re-organized United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 was a United States federal law that, among other provisions, amended the Housing Act of 1937 to create Section 8 housing, authorized "Entitlement Communities Grants" to be awarded by HUD, and created the National Institute of Building Sciences.
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