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A brief history of MHA

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) was founded in 1934 as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to combat the Great Depression. FHA modernized the American mortgage system; improved the quality of our nation’s housing stock; prevented millions of Americans from losing their homes; and financed the construction of millions of moderately priced rental units. The following year, Memphis became the second city in the nation, following New York, to establish a local housing authority. Come along with us as we take you down a brief history of Memphis Housing Authority!  

Where we were 

Under Chapter 615 of the Private Acts of 1935, we were authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly. And thus, Memphis Housing Authority was born! In 1954, the enactment of the Federal Urban Renewal Program greatly expanded MHA's role. Our focus was no longer strictly housing management – our renewed focus was on developing, supporting and maintaining affordable housing options for our community. 

From 1970-1975, the number of public housing developments in Memphis increased from nine to 22. During that time, four high rises for elderly residents were also built. Then, a pivotal moment in our history happened: Dr. W.W. Herenton became the first African American mayor of Memphis in 1991. One of his primary goals aligned with ours – to increase affordable housing for Memphis citizens. 

In 1994, Memphis Housing Authority received a $481K HOPE VI planning grant, and a year later, a $47.2 million HOPE VI implementation grant for the LeMoyne Gardens housing units. Our city's first HOPE VI development, LeMoyne Gardens, was developed through a public-private partnership and renamed College Park. A total of 411 apartments, including 70 single-family homes were developed on the revitalized site.

Where we are 

Today, Memphis Housing Authority continues to support vibrant, sustainable communities that provide a range of affordable quality housing options for all Memphians. In collaboration with a number of partner agencies, we provide eligible families and individuals opportunities to obtain decent, safe, sanitary and affordable rental housing. Through our assisted housing programs across Memphis and Shelby County, over 26,000 low-income families and individuals are served and empowered to work toward self-sufficiency.  

Where we’re going 

As we celebrate our rich history, we’re continually looking toward the future and toward the transformative revitalization contributions we have planned for the Memphis landscape. In fact, we recently created a nonprofit real estate affiliate company, Memphis Housing Strategies, to pursue projects with fewer federal restrictions and to advance real estate initiatives that promote vibrant, equitable and sustainable neighborhoods.

At MHA, our top priority is cultivating affordable housing for all, while empowering our people and communities. If you’re interested in learning more about our efforts, click here to browse through our programs and departments.