Charles Abrams

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Charles Abrams (September 20, 1901 – February 22, 1970)[1] was a Polish-born American lawyer, author, urbanist, and housing expert who created the New York City Housing and Development Administration in the 1960s.[1][2] He was one of the first to use the expression "Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor."[3]

In 1936, the US Supreme Court established, in New York City Housing Authority v. Muller, the Authority's right to employ the power of eminent domain for slum-clearing purposes. The decision gave a broader meaning to the term public use and represented a victory for Abrams, the Authority's first counsel.

From 1955 to 1959, Abrams served as head of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination, afterwards serving as president of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing from 1961 to 1965.[4]


  • Revolution in Land, Harper & Brothers, 1939; Arno Press, 1979, ISBN 9780405113161
  • A housing program for America, League for Industrial Democracy, 1947
  • Forbidden Neighbors: a Study of Prejudice in Housing, Associated Faculty Press, 1955, ISBN 9780804614962
  • The city is the frontier, Harper & Row, 1965
  • Man's Struggle for Shelter: In an Urbanizing World, Mit Press, 1966, ISBN 9780262510011
  • The language of cities; a glossary of terms, Volume 14, Viking Press, 1971

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Illson, Murray (February 23, 1970). "Charles Abrams, Worldwide Housing Expert, Dies; Lawyer, Author, 68, Shaped Outlook of Many Countries Foe of Discrimination Headed Commission Under Harriman". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ Anna McCarthy (2003) Television, Culture, and Citizenship at the Ford Foundation Working Paper: #13 November 2003 The Cold War as Global Conflict - International Center for Advanced Studies New York University
  3. ^ Michael Harrington (1962) The Other America, p.58, quote: This is yet another case of "socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor," as described by Charles Abrams in the housing field
  4. ^ Henderson, A. Scott (2007). "Abrams, Charles". In Goldfield, David R. (ed.). Encyclopedia of American Urban History. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. p. 3. ISBN 9781452265537.