Land of Plenty, Land of Want

By: Shannon Missick  

The 1950s and ‘60s in the United States was a time of a massive shift in population to the suburbs, and Chicago was no different. The Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA) and the programs that fell under its umbrella including the Federal Housing Administration, the Urban Renewal Administration, the Home Loan Bank Board, and the Federal National Mortgage Association- better known as Fannie Mae- was, for many in the post-war period, a path into the American middle-class, and relative comfort and prosperity. During this time, suburban areas began the process of enticing business, both small and large, with tax cuts, tax breaks, free land, and more as incentives to bring business to the urban periphery, generally outside of areas serviced by public transportation. These programs and policies intersected with business strategies, and social patterns to create an environment in which food access in cities was severely limited to some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, the urban poor, especially those restricted to the most deteriorated sections of the city, specifically those within the Black Belt. FHA policies further compounded this issue because minorities that could afford to leave segregated communities, were thwarted from obtaining federally insured mortgages. Consequently, they remained in underserved areas where businesses had begun the process of divestment in favor of operating stores on major thoroughfares and traffic arteries outside of the city core. African Americans inability to obtain federally backed mortgages was compounded by steering practices, and later block busting tactics of real estate agents, further impacted their abilities to obtain wealth that could be leveraged to open stores that were severely lacking within their communities. However, despite these difficulties, some Black communities were able to open food co-ops that allowed them to have access to better quality foods, though these co-ops had varying levels of success. Additionally, the Morgan Park community in Chicago founded the Morgan Park Co-op Credit Union, as a means of retaining wealth within the black community

"Urban History", " Public Policy", " Food Deserts", " Supply Chains"
Food Policies, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Shannon Missick

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