Comstock's magazine 0119 - January 2019 - Page 44

n HISTORY 1942-45 WAR! As the nation mobilized to fight Hitler, the military poured money into McClellan Air Force Base and the Signal Depot, leading to more jobs, more houses and what would become Northern California’s second gold rush. “Building booms after World War II,” says Garcia. “There was so much demand after the soldiers came home.” 1949 PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN SIGNS THE HOUSING ACT OF 1949 McClellan Air Force Base, circa 1965. 1932 CONGRESS PASSES THE GLASS-STEAGALL ACT The law forbid commercial banks from dabbling in the investment banking business, which many believed contributed to the 1929 crash. (As the saying goes, “Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it.”) 1934 FDR SIGNS THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT Desperate to pump life into the economy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt creates the Federal Housing Administration, which overhauls the mortgage system and makes it easier for Ameri- cans to buy homes. Prior to the FHA, homebuyers would typically need a whopping 50 percent down payment and to pay back the loan in five years. Thanks to the new federally backed insurance, banks began lending with the now customary 20 percent down, 30-year terms that would help fuel decades of home ownership. Yet, the growth came with a catch. When determining whether they should grant a loan, the Home Owners Loan Cor- poration (newly created by Congress) used color-coded maps to assess a neighborhood’s risk levels. The nominal logic: A riskier neighborhood is a riskier loan. They created four categories. The top one, colored green on the map, was for neighborhoods that were “new, homogenous, and in demand in good times and bad.” These were the homes of “American business and professional men.” The worst category was red. These neighborhoods were deemed “hazardous” that had an “undesirable population.” They tended to be black neighborhoods, and thus the era of denying loans to minorities through “redlining” began. “The federal gov- ernment played a big role in racial discrimination,” says Garcia. “There were conscious decisions made to exclude and segregate certain populations.” 44 | January 2019 1956 EISENHOWER SIGNS THE NATIONAL INTERSTATE AND DEFENSE HIGHWAYS ACT The city continues to push outward. Federal funding for highways — notably Interstate 5 and Highway 50 — means more growth, more suburbs and more houses. “Anything that expands trans- portation is huge for the region,” says Ryan Lundquist, author of Sacramento Appraisal Blog (and Comstock’s contributor). “This paves the way for more housing units.” Highway 50 at Howe Avenue and Power Inn Road, taken in 1969. 1961 THE SPACE RACE BEGINS To help put a man on the moon, Aerojet (which launched its Ran- cho Cordova plant in 1953) roars to life. The residential needs of Aerojet employees led to 12,000 new homes in a single year. District. Many of the old Victorian mansions — now an unreal- istic luxury — were split into apartments. “Families would make some extra money from boarders,” says Burg. “It was the mid- 20th century Airbnb.” All of those returning soldiers needed homes, and there weren’t enough. “The housing shortage continues to be acute,” declared Harry Truman in a State of the Union address. On the surface, the act’s goal was to create 1 million units of public housing and provide “a decent home and suitable living environment for every American family.” Yet, like FDR’s earlier housing legislation, it didn’t really help “every” American. An amend- ment was introduced to explicitly ban racial discrimination; it was voted down.