Fannie Mae Foundation

The Housing Act of 1949 pledged a decent home for every American family. This article examines how that promise has been met through homeownership. It traces the evolution of mortgage markets and federal homeownership policies from the post-World War II era to the end of the 20th century. Initially, the act displaced lower-income families and fostered segregation. In the aftermath of the civil rights movement, Congress invoked the act to extend homeownership opportunities to lower-income families and racial minorities. Despite early failures, federal initiatives, together with a maturing mortgage market and a favorable economic climate, have increased homeownership rates. Despite these gains, affordability and lagging homeownership rates for minorities pose critical challenges that must be met.

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