Made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the 1976 film, “Operation Breakthrough Equal Opportunity Housing,” profiles the United States’ first large-scale, unprecedented industrialized housing program. The opening sequence opens with an up-tempo theme, and we’re shown several images of tall residential and business buildings, crowded sidewalks, and streets jam-packed with cars. At mark 02:00 the commentator lists the various factors that limited housing production during the 1960’s, including expensive land and building costs, financing requirements, transportation costs and the need for skilled craftsmen. At mark 03:57 we’re shown on a map the 218 prototype construction sites proposed by government officials. These sites were chosen to showcase the innovative housing methods and materials that would be used. Nine sites were ultimately chosen: Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; King County, WA; Jersey City, NJ; Macon, GA; Memphis, TN; Sacramento, CA; Seattle, WA; and St. Louis, MO.
At mark 04:26 we’re taken inside a housing systems assembly plant where we see housing producers building and completing the housing units. Pre-assembled wirings, installation, and plumbing, are shown at mark 05:20. “Regardless of the materials used: concrete, wood, metals, plastics, the completed units are strong and durable,” the narrator reminds us at mark 05:31. At mark 6:56 we’re shown a red oversized shipment truck, and a freight train used to transport the completed units to its sites. And at mark 07:15, workers are seen erecting several different units. At mark 08:20, teams of landscape architects and planners are seen at some of the demonstration sites planning and developing concepts. The film comes to a close as an on-screen collage shows happy families of all ages and ethnicities enjoying their Operation Breakthrough constructed homes.
With the rising concern of growing population demand, urban migration and the deterioration of older housing during the 1960’s, the United States’ housing industry needed a solution–and fast. In 1968 the United States Congress tasked the Department of Housing and Urban Development with the ambitious job of working with private companies to design and construct new residential housing. Operation Breakthrough’s ambitious goal was to improve every phase of the planning, construction, and production of residential housing.
in the end, Operation Breakthrough did not prove the marketability of most of its sponsored housing construction methods, but the program supported some useful changes in the housing industry by exposing builders to new construction methods and materials, exploring new methods of evaluating housing construction, encouraging changes in building code requirements, and supporting statewide building codes. The program did not accomplish its objectives because unexpected decreases occurred in the housing market; HUD subsidized mortgage housing programs were suspended; and some housing systems lacked cost savings potential.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com