For the population that is to be housed in a carefully-planned region there is choice among the following types of dwellings:
One-family houses [one family, occupying the whole house from cellar to roof]: Detached; semi-detached; group; or row.
Two-family houses [one family above the other] subdivided as previously described.
Multi-family houses [ranging from the building in which every apartment is equipped for housekeeping, through that where a common dining room supplements or supersedes the housewife's efforts, to the hotel where cooking in an apartment is strictly forbidden]: Detached; group; or row.
Somewhat apart from any of those mentioned are the boarding house and the lodging or rooming house. These are not a distinct type of housing, but are merely the result of opportunist attempts to utilize the waste resultant from lack of city planning and a housing policy in the past. When the day comes that there are no more blighted districts, no more cast-off dwellings, the boarding house and rooming house, as they are known to-day, will disappear, their places being taken by houses designed for the purpose. Instead of a shame-faced dilapidation, recalling better days, they will evidence the self-respect of those who accomplish what they intend to do.
With this classification of houses; with a clear understanding of the function of each class; with a regional plan, zoning regulation, and an intelligent distribution of centers of employment so that there will be ready access from home to shop; with a stabilization of the character of neighborhoods and, consequently, of house values, and, not least important, a clearer recognition of the value of space, both inside and outside the house, but part of the same domain so that alterations and improvements may be made, it will be comparatively easy to develop a housing policy designed to serve adequately the needs of the population.
Each individual has conflicting desires among which he must choose. Each might prefer to live in the White House, not because of an ambition to be President, but because the house has the desirable characteristics of a family dwelling; it is spacious and set in a very pleasant yard large enough for children's play and even contains a tennis court, and, in addition, it is most accessible from its tenant's office which is easily reached by his chief business associates, and, to add excellence to excellence, to satisfy the other head of the family, it is cheek by jowl with the principal shopping district, within a block or so of two theatres, and within easy reach of the others. In short, it would seem to be ideal. Certainly, as Lincoln is reported to have observed, most of its tenants desire to renew their leases.
Although this combination is provided for Presidents, most families have to make choices. If convenience of access of department stores is more important than home or children, an apartment near the center of one of the larger urban units or along one of the arterial highways is selected. If we no longer have children or expectation of them, a similar choice may be made, although some recent subdivisions give reason to hope that it will be possible to find a small house of five or six rooms, attractively designed and located in a pleasant neighborhood, thus doing away with the present hard choice between an eight to ten-room house and a five-room apartment. If there are growing children a one-family dwelling will be chosen, a, little less accessible from the centers of work and amusement, but compensating for this by giving neighbors who have the same chief interest and who have a greater tendency to stay put long enough for the development of family acquaintance, parents with neighbors' children, as well as the horizontal acquaintance of apartment-house populations which tends to follow the line of age groups.
The greater stabilization of the character of neighborhoods will encourage investment in rental housing by increasing the life expectancy of the individual house. It will lead to the wider use in one-family house districts of services now characteristic of multi-family houses. Stabilization which reduces the speculative factor in real estate, which turns attention to permanent investment values, should result in creating again the estate or company that owns or manages a considerable number of one-family houses, for these depreciate, become obsolescent less rapidly, cost less to maintain and, provided they have open space about them, are more readily kept in step with "modern improvement," than are multi-family dwellings. Some of the finest dwellings are one-family houses built 50 or 100 years ago. Some of the old one-family house districts after a period of decadence have come back strongly. Few multi-family dwellings have maintained the standing of their youth until reaching their majority, and none, so far as the writer knows, has ever come back after it once lost prestige.
Probably this has been due chiefly to misplacing. They have themselves spoiled many neighborhoods and, in time, have suffered from the deterioration they caused; or they have been injured by the invasion of business. In a planned and zoned region these causes should be removed. There obviously will be space enough so that the temptation to land-overcrowding will be reduced. There will be system and order so that each type of dwelling will have that place best fitted to its purpose. Zoning does not imply a series of girdles about an urban center, but it does imply an arrangement in relation to traffic and traffic facilities. The regional plan will guide the development of traffic facilities, types of dwellings will be placed in accordance with their need of these facilities, and zoning regulations will prevent the placing of an inferior type in a district where it does not belong.