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Metropolitan Housing in Dayton
This article appeared in the City of Dayton Annual Report for 1942, pages 75-77
Metropolitan Housing in Dayton
Charlton D. Putnam
     Since the Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority had an article in the Annual Report of the City of Dayton for 1940, its original building program has been substantially completed and over one thousand families are living in its projects.
     Parkside Homes was ready for initial occupancy in the summer of 1941; the first family moved in July 22, and by the end of the year the project was filled. Due to the very urgent request by the commanding officers of Wright and Patterson Fields that some relief be given to the critical housing condition facing their civilian employes, the Authority decided that it would make one-third of this project available for this group during the period of the national emergency. In order to make this group eligible for admission, slightly higher incomes were permitted, and a corresponding increase was made in the rents charged.
     When the Federal Government inaugurated the priority system for construction work, three projects of this Authority, namely, the addition to De Soto Bass Courts, Summit Court, and Edgewood Court, were only partially completed. The government made the granting of priorities for the materials necessary to complete these projects contingent upon the Authority agreeing that defense workers would be given preference in renting the dwellings; and in view of the imminence of war, the Authority agreed to this condition. Consequently, all of the tenants of these projects were planned, it was naturally decided that higher rents would be justified in order that the government would be called upon to pay only a small subsidy.
     The addition to De Soto Bass Courts of 110 dwellings was completed in the spring of 1942 and was quickly occupied by that number of families in desperate need of housing. Considerable delay was encountered in the completion of [p. 75] Summit Court and Edgewood Court because of the difficulty in obtaining some materials, even with priority ratings, but in November Summit Court was opened and rapidly filled. The first families moved into Edgewood Court in the following month.
     While the situation arising from the war has caused the Authority to depart somewhat from its original program of housing the low-income group, nevertheless all of the families who are being housed are in desperate need of housing relief. In fact, the number of families in this community living under definitely bad housing conditions is much greater than it ever has been. At the conclusion of the war, all the projects will revert to their original purpose and only families with low incomes will be permitted to reside there.
     One of the most interesting developments at De Soto Bass Courts and Parkside Homes has been the organization of exceedingly active Tenant Councils. There are voluntary associations of the tenants to which almost all families belong. Their purpose is to foster and conduct activities of an educational, recreational, or social nature. These activities include mother clubs, music clubs, young peoples clubs, boy and girl scouts, children’s play schools, dances and victory gardens. A Federal Credit Union has been formed at De Soto Bass Courts and is giving good business experience to many of its members. The community facilities built as part of the projects are being intensively used and the residents are showing considerable capacity for conducting the numerous activities. Various City departments and private agencies have been most cooperative in assisting the management and the tenants with their program.
     The tremendous increase in employment at Wright and Patterson Fields and in industry has caused thousands of families to move to Dayton and private building has been unable to provide enough dwellings for them. In order to relieve this housing shortage the Federal Government has been obliged to step in with a program of temporary dwelling for the war workers. Overlook Homes, a project of 750 dwellings, is being constructed as a part of this program and this Authority has agreed to manage and operate it for the government. The first families will move in during December 1942, although the project will not be entirely completed until the spring of 1943. It is the policy of the government in this war housing program to have local authorities act as its agent in order that the knowledge and experience gained in several years of constructing and [p. 76] managing public housing might be utilized. This Authority has agreed to so act in constructing several additional projects for war workers in the Dayton area. Upon the completion of these projects, they will be managed by the Authority, therefore, for the duration of the war this Authority, in common with most public agencies and industries, will be devoting a large part of its energy to furthering the war program.