The lack of decent urban housing - a problem neither new nor
unique to Newfoundland – was widely recognized during the twentieth century.
After numerous piecemeal attempts to find a solution, a remarkable and
successful government-supported “sweat equity” program was established in 1952,
where homes were built cooperatively and, upon completion, became
owner-occupied. This labour (about 2,000 hours per man) was accepted in lieu of
a down payment.
Tracing public policy during the Commission of Government
and the early days of the Smallwood administration, and sourced from archival
material and interviews with surviving members of the cooperative, Sweat Equity
outlines how people in Newfoundland tried to solve the housing shortage
themselves by building more than 500 houses in the 1950s and 1960s.
This critical monograph-length study – the first of its kind
on the subject – is the story of how the Commission of Government and the then
new provincial government recognized the desperate need for decent accommodation
and what they did to provide it.