Shall I Build A House
after the War?
How Many Houses Will We Need?
many houses will America need after the war? The answer to that question isn’t
easy since it depends on many factors, some of which must be guessed at. Let’s
try to estimate the size of the housing market when building materials become
available after the war. The 1940’s began with a great backlog of demand
for better housing, despite the fact that there were about 1,400,000 vacant nonfarm
dwelling units in the United States. During the depression and the immediate prewar
years, not enough new houses were built to take care of the demands. The number
of nonfarm homes built in 1925 reached a peak of nearly a million. In 1933 there
were less than one hundred thousand. A gradual recovery started after that, however.
In 1941, about three-quarters of a million dwelling units were constructed, but
the war put a stop to the building boom.
Owing to the shortage of housing,
we can assume that in most war centers nearly all houses in livable condition,
including those that were vacant in 1940, are now being occupied. Thus, we will
probably start the postwar era with almost all our present supply of houses in
use. There probably won’t be many vacancies.
A large number of additional
houses will be needed to shelter the new families that are started each year when
couples get married. Also, many thousands of dwellings will be required to take
care of families migrating from one part of the country to another-for example,
war workers moving back to their. home towns and war veterans seeking opportunities
to make a living in new localities. Finally, it will be necessary to build houses
to take the place of those that have simply worn out—become absolutely unlivable-since
Taking all these things together, and studying the building and
replacement rates of the past, it looks as though we probably will need over a
million nonfarm dwelling units a year, including apartments-for at least 10 years
after the war. Also, there should be a heavy demand for new farm dwellings and
for repairs and alterations.
What Will Be Spent on Housing?