Be a Patriot, Buy a Home: Re-Imagining Home Owners and Home Ownership in Early 20th Century Atlanta


History and Philosophy

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2008


The Homeowners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) of the 1930s, and the Veterans Administration (VA) program of the 1940s buttressed the (largely white) migration to single family homes in the suburbs just after World War II, institutions and policies that have been investigated (and complicated) by a range of social scientists.2 This article examines the era prior to that significant wave of legislation, when the federal government joined with the real estate interests to reassert the meaning of homeownership within American society.3 This study of Atlanta's experience with early 20th century homeownership campaigns indicates that, in the years following the Great War, various historical trends converged that pressed the federal government and the housing industry to re-imagine and re-position homeownership. [...] lack of comment, reporting, or other analysis of low homeownership and high mobility rates from progressive era reformers, public policy makers, or real estate interests suggests that there was little concern about this pattern.14 It is true, though, that financing options were limited in the late 1800s and early 1900s, which may have slowed purchase of owner-occupied homes as well as investment properties.