Nichols Avenue HousesPhoto by the Alley Dwelling Authority, ca. 1937-1944. Source: Report of the National Capital Housing Authority, 1934-1944.
The Alley Dwelling Authority (ADA) and the Federal Works Agency (FWA) funded the construction of the Nichols Avenue Houses in Washington, DC, in 1943. These houses were called “Standard Temporary Dwellings Units,” or “TDU’s.” They were built for African American national defense workers, and were intended to be taken down after the war.
It is unlikely that any part of the Nichols Avenue Houses still remains.
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 advent of World War II, the ADA was enlisted to help the FWA create housing for national defense workers (using Lanham Act funds). The Nichols Avenue 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).
Report of the Alley Dwelling Authority for the District of Columbia, For the Fiscal Year July 1, 1936 – June 30, 1937, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937, available on Hathitrust (accessed August 15, 2020).
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on August 18, 2020.
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