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Urban Renewal

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.

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