This chapter provides an overview of the main themes covered in the present volume. Public housing is a federal program started by the US Housing Act of 1937, which provided public financing for low-cost public housing. Initially, public housing was developed to meet the housing needs of white middle-class families affected by the Great Depression; however, it quickly transitioned into housing for poor racial minorities. Shortly after its inception, public housing captured national attention due to the constellation of social problems that coalesced in many public housing developments across the country. In an attempt to rectify what was deemed a failed housing policy, the United States launched the Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere VI (HOPE VI) program to transform (i.e. demolish and rebuild) distressed public housing developments in many large US cities. This book seeks to contribute to knowledge on African American youth living in public housing developments that were not targeted by HOPE VI. The remainder of the chapter discusses public housing residents and locations; changes in urban public housing; why and how public housing developments are neighborhoods in their own right; research on youth public housing; and limitations on public housing.
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