In the category of good intentions gone awry, it is hard to beat the American
public housing program.
Public housing was born in the 1930s when liberal pressure groups helped start
a quintessential New Deal program that was intended not just to help the poor but
to put the construction industry back to work. After a couple of decades of
fairly smooth sailing, however, delinquency and social problems began to appear
among residents in the housing projects. By the 1980s, conditions had gone from
bad to worse, and public housing had become synonymous with the social
pathologies of the underclass.