Public Housing for Lower-Middle-Income Families: New Jersey’s State Housing Program in the Late 1940s

Keisuke Jinno


This article addresses a lost housing alternative at the dawn of post-New Deal, homeowner-centered America. At the end of the 1940s, the State of New Jersey attempted to launch a state public housing program for lower-middle-income families who had been left out of both the private market for prospective homeowners and the existing public housing projects. The program, however, was incompatible with business-backed plans to create a mass homeownership society. Galvanized by anti-tax sentiment among current and prospective homeowners, voters rejected a state housing bond referendum necessary to the program. An additional factor was white residents’ politics of exclusion that produced anti-public housing hysteria. Finally, plan proponents’ lack of consensus about financial resources and grass-roots activities failed to sway public opinion and resulted in low voter turnout in central places.

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