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Warren J. Vinton received his A.B. from the University of Michigan in 1911. At age 21 he became secretary and director of the Vinton Company, then the largest general building contractors in Detroit. During World War I he served as an assistant attache at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. In 1928 he went to New York and worked for the American Association for Social Security, which did the groundwork for the eventual adoption of social security legislation. He also did graduate work in economics and statistics at Columbia University. In 1934 Vinton was appointed a field research supervisor with the newly formed Federal Housing Administration, where he developed the basic research techniques used in the first housing census done by the Census Bureau in 1940. When the Resettlement Administration was established in 1935, he was put in charge of economic and sociological studies for greenbelt towns and helped select the locations for three of them. From 1935-37 he assisted Senator Robert F. Wagner in drafting housing legislation which became the Wagner Act of 1937, and he later headed the social and economic studies which led to further public housing legislation adopted in 1949. He then became assistant commissioner of the new Public Housing Administration, where he remained until his retirement in 1957. He then became mayor of Somerset, Maryland, and retired in April, 1968.

Vinton belonged to, or was a board member of, the Washington Housing Association, the National Housing Conference, the American Society of Planning Officials, and the American Institute of Planners.