Bay Village was constructed in the south-central section of New Bedford between 1939 and 1941 as part of the federal Housing and Urban Development nationwide "slum" clearance program. says, "Bay Village replaced much older, working-class housing stock on the site, much of it dating from the whaling era."

The site says, "One hundred fifteen homes and businesses were razed, including Monte Pio Hall, the oldest Portuguese social club in New England, and the 'Irish House,' once home to itinerant whalers and other seafarers."

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The New Bedford Housing Authority (NBHA), which manages Bay Village, says it consists of 197 federal family units in 27 red brick buildings that vary between one-bedroom to four-bedroom units.

Bay Village: New Bedford's Oldest Public Housing Complex
Courtesy Spinner Publications E. Milton Silvia Collection

Complete with indoor plumbing and running water, Bay Village improved the standard of living for its residents but displaced many families whose homes were demolished to make way for the new complex.

NBHA says modernization work was completed at Bay Village in the late 1990s, and recently, seven units were made to be handicap accessible. says, "The sprawling nature of the complex evokes the post-World War II suburban housing boom more than the tightly packed public housing 'projects' that followed."

Bay Village: New Bedford's Oldest Public Housing Complex
Courtesy Spinner Publications

The Bay Village neighborhood survived the brutal Urban Renewal of the 1960s and '70s that saw hundreds of homes and businesses demolished to make room for Route 18, which cut Bay Village off from the city's waterfront.

In 2014, the NBHA announced that the installation of solar panels at Bay Village made it the first to go solar of the many public housing developments in the country.

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