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The federal Housing Act of 1949 sought to improve living conditions
for American families by eliminating substandard and other inadequate
housing in neighborhoods designated as slums. Projecting an image
of blighted areas as pathological, urban renewal programs revitalized
cities like Boston that had suffered from years of municipal neglect,
budget deficits, deteriorating streets, and decrepit old buildings.
Established in 1957, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) was
the local agency authorized with implementing federally funded urban
renewal plans. In the 1960s, African American activists began to
speak out against Boston's urban renewal plans that did not take
into account the housing needs of poor minority communities. Activists
campaigned for more subsidized housing, better basic services, community-based
decision-making, and an end to segregated housing conditions.