"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
- 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
- (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
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.
 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
This This WWW page was created by Wendy Plotkin (firstname.lastname@example.org) in 1998 and updated on 1 September 2003.