‘The Submerged Middle Class’ emerge…The Dixie Court Story
Trailblazers Present a Reveiw of Public Housing
By Lillian E. Small
Third of Series
The Public Housing Act has always been controversial. Several reasons have come from proponents and opponents a-like. Proponents were social re-formers, Labor Unions, and political leaders and they argued that bad housing contributed to problems including corruption, crime, and immorality. They wanted a remedy for unsafe and insanitary housing conditions to be provided to the “submerged middle class.” This term alluded to an eventual rise in their economic and social status.
The opponents on the other hand, felt that housing subsidies were inappropriate. Their beliefs were based on the idea that subsidies from the federal government would undermine the private housing market, diminish home ownership incentives, and would be a form of socialism. Their thoughts were far off the mark in their forecasting, and especially for home ownership. The Dixie Court residents were striving to fulfill their dreams of a better life as their children were learning to grow up and become adults.
After World War II, many of these working class people were able to buy their own homes using low interest mortgages through the VA and FHA. Segregation in the United States at that time, would naturally make these benefits available to whites to help them move to the suburbs. Blacks remained concentrated in cities and inner suburbs.
Nevertheless, these mortgages allowed Dixie Court residents to move out of public housing and continue their journey of upward mobility.
Most of the early residents of Dixie Court began their movement; and their rise to middle class in the late 1940’s and into the mid 1950’s.
In addition to feeling self pride in their new neighborhoods of the inner suburbs, the first families of Dixie Court were also proud that their children were returning from their various colleges and universities to become citizens in the place of their birth and youth. They had earned their degrees in various areas but the job market for Blacks was still strongly in education. The students of Dillard High School, still the only school for Blacks, had now become teachers at their Alma Mater. It was indeed a positive-plus for those children still in school to see these former students as their role models.
The first area of home ownership where many of the Dixie Court residents moved was the Dorsey Park area, now known as Dorsey River Bend. Much of the land in that area had been owned by a land owner named Paul Dye.
The first families of Dixie Court now became the first families of Dorsey Park. Many of these families still reside in Dorsey Park. There were several blocks of homes constructed in Dorsey Park that veterans returning from the war could purchase also. A four block area near Carter Park called Lincoln Estates, was also constructed for veterans. These inner suburbs made up the westward expansion for the Black community and slowly other areas were populated as the city grew.
Families continued to move into Dixie Court and Dixie Court maintained its allure. They kept coming to raise their children and enjoy the environment was still nurturing. Dillard had taken up residence in another place but that didn’t matter either. It just seemed like Dixie Court was in the business of families and families enjoyed the opportunity of growing there.
Read fourth of series: Beating the Odds and Meeting Challenges
The Old Dixie Court Reunion Free Community Event – Aug. 8-12, 2012
Applications to attend this event are available at the Old Dillard Museum, The New Dixie Court, and the African American Research Library. Please return completed applications without delay.