American History

Heaven bless paperless!

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 '88 was an election year, and while citizens contemplated the merits of George H. W. Bush (R – Texas) and Michael Dukakis (D – Mass.), city leaders were wrestling with providing social services: aid for the homeless, the unemployed, troubled youth, and the ill.

With many struggling, housing became a focal point, specifically the future of federal housing assistance, according to then-National League of Cities President William Davis.  

“[This] is a major problem, and it’s true for a broad range of cities,” Davis told American City & County. “It’s not just the older cities or the bigger cities. I was in New Hampshire recently and the housing issue was number one on the agenda of the whole set of municipal officials I talked to.”

Davis pointed to failings on the federal and state level with regard to housing assistance, and noted that such failings – paired with the economic recession – were placing pressure on cities to address the issue at the local level.

But what the late ’80s lacked in housing assistance, they more than made up for in paper. 1988 saw 1.3 trillion documents being stored in U.S. offices, with 900 million new computer printouts, photocopies, letters etc. being added per day.

Environmental aspects aside, this deluge was negatively affecting cities – driving up storage costs, limiting accessibility, and compromising file integrity.

Heaven bless paperless!

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What's American History?

It highlights the development of U.S. local and state government.

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