Trailblazers present a review of public housing ‘In the Beginning…The Dixie Court’ story

By Lillian E. Small

(First of a Series)

The story of Fort Lauderdale’s first public housing, is a marvelous threefold story of the early development of Fort Lauderdale, public housing, and of Dixie Court Incorporated slightly more than two decades earlier in 1911, the city was still in its infancy in 1938 when the decision was made to create its Housing Authority, following the creation of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937.

The City Commission of Fort Lauderdale bought into this paternalistic government program to subsidize affordable housing for low income residents and wasted no time in starting the construction of Dixie Court in 1939-40.

Fort Lauderdale had many parcels of land that were considered woods, rural like, and ripe for development.

Ten acres of land were cleared of undesirable vegetation and trees for construction in an area centrally located in the Black community. It was touted to be the “Jewel of the Community” as the residents watched this CBS construction brick-by-brick.There would be 150 apartments/units to be filled. There would arise from the thickets, palmettos, briar bushed, sandspurs, and weeds, a transformed area, complete with beautiful, ornamental trees, shrubs, and landscaping.

Qualitative tenant screening was the norm when public housing was first built, and very strict policies were enforced. High on the list of specifics were that the residents must be two-parent families and the head of household must be employed. It was a dream come true for 150 families when this construction was completed. Second of Series – The Young and the Restless

The Old Dixie Court Reunion is a free community event.

Pre-registration is now open. Applications are at the Old Dillard Museum, the new Dixie Court, and the African American Research Library. Completed applications should be returned to the Old Dillard Museum.

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