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Report of the Housing Task Force
CHANGING THE SUBSIDIZED HOUSING-SYSTEM AND "BANKING LAND"
TO MEET NATIONAL HOUSING NEEDS .
The nation's metropolitan areas consist, generally speaking,
of land-poor central cities containing poor families living
in substandard, overcrowded housing and land-rich suburbs
which exclude housing for these families. The nation's need
for at least six million houses for low- and moderate-income
families in the next decade will not be met unless major
steps are taken to break this impasse -- to build substantial
amounts of housing where the vacant land is available.
Suburban enclaves could perhaps be tolerated when they were
few in number, when urban population pressures were less, and
when urban land was more plentiful. But the rapid increase in
restrictive zoning regulations in recent years and the growing
scarcity of urban land now greatly reduce the opportunities
of low- and moderate-income city dwellers to leave the city
for decent shelter and better public and commercial facilities
near expanding job opportunities in the suburbs.
Restrictive zoning, high land: prices, and the inability of
federal programs to operate effectively in suburban areas are
major constraints to increasing the supply of low- and moderate-
income housing to meet our national needs.
_As helpful as the 1968 Housing and Urban Development Act may
prove to be, it makes no important changes in a system that we
know cannot meet our national needs.
The power to place limits on zoning and building code powers of
localities rests with the states. Yet there is little pressure
within the states to make the necessary changes. Federal block
grants to the States, should they be enacted, could be premised
on basic reforms by state governments in regard to zoning,
building codes and other archaic features of local government.
However, our housing situation grows increasingly severe, and
action to meet our housing needs cannot wait upon all these
Accordingly, the Task Force on Housing, Reconstruction and
Investment met on July 28, 1969, and resolved that The Urban
Coalition move immediately to urge upon the nation and the
Federal Government immediate.steps to meet this problem.
With the approval of the Executive Committee, the Housing
Task Force will draft a program indicating that the Federal
Government must exercise a far greater degree of leadership
than it has in the past by:
1) Restructuring the upside-down housing subsidies system
whereby many localities may ignore the national housing
need.for low-income families, on the one hand, while those
which want to act are entangled in self-defeating regula-
tions, on the other. This system combines the worst dis-
advantages of decentralization with the worst disadvantages
2) Reorganizing the low-rent public housing program to re-
move the stigma attached to it, and to enable it to perform
in a state-wide and regional context in accordance with
regional and state-wide housing goals.
3) Empowering the Federal Government to cut through the re-
straints of restrictive zoning and building codes and inade-
quate sites by meeting housing needs directly when the states
or localities decline to do so.
4) Adopting a massive “land banking" program financed on a
revolving-fund basis to enable localities to acquire land in
advance of need for public purposes, including low-income
housing, in the face of spiraling land costs.