The federal public housing program was created by the U.S. Housing Act of 1937, which provided capital funding to localities to build affordable housing units. Public housing was originally intended as a work program and as a way to house people who were temporarily unemployed, or employed at low wages, during the Great Depression. Today, the nation's public housing is a multibillion dollar asset with about 13,000 developments. Bethlehem Housing Authority started in 1939.
Public housing developments are owned and operated by public housing authorities (PHAs) -- independent agencies established by localities to develop, own and manage low-rent housing. Large PHAs like BHA are those with 1,250 or more units.
Public housing is home to almost 3 million seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families with children; approximately one million children live in public housing. BHA houses approximately 7% of Bethlehem's 75,000 residents.
More than half (52%) of all public housing residents are elderly or people with disabilities.
About 40% of public housing residents remain in units less than three years.
Another 4.7 million seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families with children use Section 8 housing choice vouchers.
Public housing is an economic engine that drives community revitalization.