The Alley Dwelling Authority (ADA) and the Federal Works Agency (FWA) funded the construction of the 21st Street Houses in Washington, DC in 1943. This development of 36 living units was built for African American national defense workers (Washington, DC was highly segregated at the time).
It is unknown to the Living New Deal if any of the structures still exist, but it is not likely since these homes were classified as “demountable,” i.e., intended to be taken down and salvaged sometime after the war.
The ADA was one of the earliest New Deal initiatives to provide better housing for low-income Americans. It replaced unsafe alley dwellings in Washington, DC with more modern and affordable houses and apartments. The ADA existed from 1934-1943 as a federally controlled special authority. It then slowly evolved into today’s DC Housing Authority, an independent agency of the DC Government.
With the advent of World War II, the ADA was enlisted to work alongside the Federal Works Agency (FWA) to provide housing for defense workers (using Lanham Act funds). The 21st Street Houses was one of those projects.
Report of the National Capital Housing Authority, For the Ten-Year Period 1934-1944, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1945, available on Hathitrust (accessed July 14, 2020).
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on August 24, 2020.
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