The impact of social housing on health in Glasgow and Baltimore, 1930-1980

Sharrer, Nicholas Burnham (2016) The impact of social housing on health in Glasgow and Baltimore, 1930-1980. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This dissertation seeks to discern the impact of social housing on public health in the cities of Glasgow, Scotland and Baltimore, Maryland in the twentieth century. Additionally, this dissertation seeks to compare the impact of social housing policy implementation in both cities, to determine the efficacy of social housing as a tool of public health betterment. This is accomplished through the exposition and evaluation of the housing and health trends of both cities over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century. Both the cities of Glasgow and Baltimore had long struggled with both overcrowded slum districts and relatively unhealthy populations. Early commentators had noticed the connection between insanitary housing and poor health, and sought a solution to both of these problems. Beginning in the 1940s, housing reform advocates (self-dubbed ‘housers') pressed for the development of social housing, or municipally-controlled housing for low-income persons, to alleviate the problems of overcrowded slum dwellings in both cities. The impetus for social housing was twofold: to provide affordable housing to low-income persons and to provide housing that would facilitate healthy lives for tenants. Whether social housing achieved these goals is the crux of this dissertation. In the immediate years following the Second World War, social housing was built en masse in both cities. Social housing provided a reprieve from slum housing for both working-class Glaswegians and Baltimoreans. In Baltimore specifically, social housing provided accommodation for the city’s Black residents, who found it difficult to occupy housing in White neighbourhoods. As the years progressed, social housing developments in both cities faced unexpected problems. In Glasgow, stable tenant flight (including both middle class and skilled artisan workers)+ resulted in a concentration of poverty in the city’s housing schemes, and in Baltimore, a flight of White tenants of all income levels created a new kind of state subsidized segregated housing stock. The implementation of high-rise tower blocks in both cities, once heralded as a symbol of housing modernity, also faced increased scrutiny in the 1960s and 1970s. During the period of 1940-1980, before policy makers in the United States began to eschew social housing for subsidized private housing vouchers and community based housing associations had truly taken off in Britain, public health professionals conducted academic studies of the impact of social housing tenancy on health. Their findings provide the evidence used to assess the second objective of social housing provision, as outlined above. Put simply, while social housing units were undoubtedly better equipped than slum dwellings in both cities, the public health investigations into the impact of rehousing slum dwellers into social housing revealed that social housing was not a panacea for each city’s social and public health problems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: TAD + HB requested 18.08.16 MC
Keywords: Glasgow, Baltimore, social housing, public health, history of medicine, transnational history.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Supervisor's Name: Nicolson, Dr. Malcolm, Kearns, Dr. Ade, Egan, Dr. Matt and Mooney, Dr. Graham
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr. Nicholas Burnham Sharrer
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7528
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2016 15:15
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 07:20

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