"Racial" Provisions of FHA Underwriting Manual, 1936

  • 228. Deed restrictions are apt to prove more effective than a zoning ordinance in providing protection from adverse influences. Where the same deed restrictions apply over a broad area and where these restrictions relate to types of structures, use to which improvements may be put, and racial occupancy, a favorable condition is apt to exist. Where adjacent lots or blocks possess altogether different restrictions, especially for type and use of structures and racial occupancy, the effect of such restrictions is minimized and adequate protection cannot be considered to be present. . . . It must be realized that deed restrictions, to be effective, must be enforced. In this respect they are like zoning ordinances. Where there is the possibility of voiding the deed restrictions through inadequate enforcement of their provisions, the restrictions themselves offer little or no protection against adverse influences."
  • 229. The geographical position of a location may afford in certain instances reliable protection against adverse influences. If the location lies in the middle of an area well developed with a uniform type of residential properties, and if the location is away from main arteries which would logically be used for business purposes, probability of a change in type, use, or occupancy of properties at this location is remote. The Valuator should consider carefully the immunity or lack of immunity offered to the location because of its geographical position within the city. Natural or artificially established barriers will prove effective in protecting a neighborhood and the locations within it from adverse influences. Usually the protection against adverse influences afforded by these means include prevention of the infiltration of business and industrial uses, lower-class occupancy, and inharmonious racial groups.
  • 233. The Valuator should investigate areas surrounding the location to determine whether or not incompatible racial and social groups are present, to the end that an intelligent prediction may be made regarding the possibility or probability of the location being invaded by such groups. If a neighborhood is to retain stability it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes. A change in social or racial occupancy generally leads to instability and a reduction in values. The protection offered against adverse changes should be found adequate before a high rating is given to this feature. Once the character of a neighborhood has been established it is usually improssible to induce a higher social class than those already in the neighborhood to purchase and occupy properties in its various locations.
  • The social class of the parents of children at the school will in many instances have a vital bearing. Thus, although physical surrounds of a neighborhood area may be favorable and conducive to enjoyable, pleasant living in its locations, if the children of people living in such an area are compelled to attend school where the majority or a goodly number of the pupils represent a far lower level of society or an incompatible racial element, the neighborhood under consideration will prove far less stable and desirable than than if this condition did not exist. In such an instance it might well be that for the payment of a fee children of this area could attend another school with pupils of their same social class. The question for the Valuator to determine is the effect created by the necessity for making this payment upon the occupants of the location. Under any conditions the rating could not be favorable as if the desirable school were available without additional cost. In many instances where a school has earned a prestige through the class of pupils attending, it will be found that such prestige will be a vital element in maintaining the desirability of the entire area comprising the school district."

Special Considerations in Rating Undeveloped Subdivisions and Partially Developed Residential Areas

  • 284 (3). Recorded deed restrictions should strengthen and supplement zoning ordinances and to be really effective should include the provisions listed below. The restrictions should be recorded with the deed and should run for a period of at least twenty years. Recommended restrictions include the following:
    • (a) Allocation of definite areas for specific uses such as single or double-family houses, apartments, and business structures.
    • (b) The placement of buildings so that they will have adequate light and air with assurance of a space of at least ten feet between buildings.
    • (c) Prohibition of the resubdivision of lots.
    • (d) Prohibition of the erection of more than one dwelling per lot.
    • (e) Control of the design of all buildings through requiring their approval by a qualified committee and by appropriate cost limitations.
    • (f) Prohibition of nuisances or undesirable buildings such as stables, pig pens, temporary dwellings, and high fences.
    • (g) Prohibition of the occupancy of properties except by the race for which they were intended.
    • (h) Appropriate provisions for enforcement.
  • 289 (1). Adequacy of Civic, Social, and Commercial Centers.-- These elements of comfortable living usually follow rather than precede development. Those centers serving the city or section in which the development is situated should be readily available to its occupants. Schools should be appropriate to the needs of the new community and they should not be attended in large numbers by inharmonious racial groups. Employment centers, preferably diversified in nature, should be at a convenient distance.

Bold highlighting added by creator of this WWW page.

Source: Federal Housing Administration, Underwriting Manual: Underwriting and Valuation Procedure Under Title II of the National Housing Act With Revisions to April 1, 1936 (Washington, D.C.), Part II, Section 2, Rating of Location.[1]

[1] In Forbidden Neighbors (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955),162, Charles Abrams cites an FHA Underwriting Manual dated November 1, 1936. Thus, it appears as if more than one manual was issued in that year.

This This WWW page was created by Wendy Plotkin (wendy.plotkin@asu.edu) in 1998 and updated on 1 September 2003.