Public Housing Breaks the Mold Part II: Veterans Era Housing

November/December 2001
A version of this article appears in the November/December 2001 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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November 01, 2001
In Part I, we discussed the particular moisture- and air quality-related problems of midrise housing, and we took a close look at two cases. Here we explore issues unique to Veterans Era Housing and present three cases where moisture problems were successfully addressed.
        Housing built for World War II veterans during the 40’s, and 50’s poses serious technical, institutional,and health-related challenges for housing managers, policy makers,and residents alike. This housing is easy to identify in the poor neighborhoods of old industrial cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Boston. The apartments are relatively small (500–900 ft2 for a two- to four-bedroom unit) and are clustered in multiple buildings in large low-rise developments. The buildings are generally two or three stories high and contain 10 to 30 apartments each.The developments range in size from several hundred to several thousand apartments.         Years of deferred maintenance have created a housing crisis that includes extraordinary deferred capital needs, high utility costs,and unhealthy indoor living conditions. Major capital investments are required to make this housing healthy, safe,and comfortable once again.For example, the Boston Housing Authority owns and manages about 10,000 Veterans Era apartments. The cost to fully upgrade these apartments would be more than $1.5 billion. Solutions, both short-term and long-term,for the moisture problems that we found need to be addressed within the broader context of the major investments required to ...

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