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served by our people, and we are badly in need of housing for those people who are working in them and who will be employed in the future. At the present time we have a housing unit of 90 units. It has been very beneficial to our people and to the industry it serves. We know the value of such projects and have opposed the legislation which deprived us of further participation in the housing program. We could easily use up to 250 units now, and we do not see any relief in the future, since it seems inevitable that the steel industry will expand in this area. Our request is that your committee make provisions in the proposed bill which will allow us to take advantage of the advantages offered under it when the legislation which bars us now is abolished. We believe this will be done as soon as the next legislature meets in Alabama.

Yours very truly,

C. N. GILLEY, Mayor.

Birmingham 3, Ala., February 1, 1946.


Washington, D. C.

GENTLEMEN: The overwhelming majority of the people of Jefferson County are desirious of public funds for public housing in this district to relieve the acute housing shortage conditions.

We urge you to provide in the acts of Congress for such funds to be appropriated and set aside for use in this district, anticipating the repeal of the so-called antihousing bill enacted by the State Legislature of Alabama.

Slum-clearance housing projects in Birmingham and other municipalities and the rural district of Jefferson County, if built where they will not retard the future progress and upbuilding of our cities, are greatly needed here. Such housing projects will improve the condition of other property in our communities, causing an enhancement in value of the adjoining properties, and improve the health and safety conditions for our people.

Your favorable action on such suggested legislation will meet with overwhelming public approval.

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GENTLEMEN: There is a serious housing shortage in Jefferson County, Ala., at this time. A substantial portion of this shortage should be relieved through public housing. Applications have been filed with the Federal Housing Authority by the housing authority of the Birmingham district, Jefferson County, and the cities of Homewood, Bessemer, and Tarrant, all located in Jefferson County, Ala., for the purpose of constructing 7,838 new dwelling units. The Sixth Annual Report of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District, June 30, 1945, states that all of these applications had been tentatively approved for early consideration after the war's end.

The Alabama Legislature, by an act of the legislature in June 1945, enacted a bill barring construction of new housing projects with Federal funds in Jefferson County, Ala. This bill prohibited the building of projects in no other county in the State except Jefferson County. I believe that the predominant sentiment in Jefferson County, Ala., is that the legislation barring construction of new housing projects with Federal funds in Jefferson County should and will be repealed by the next session of the Alabama State Legislature. The legislature does not meet until May 1, 1947. There is also a chance that this restrictive legislation may be declared invalid by our Supreme Court. The fact that this restrictive legislation was passed does not make the need for public housing in Jefferson County any less great. It does not in any way help to furnish housing for the returning veterans, war workers, and others who are now homeless in Jefferson County, Ala.

The preamble of the Wagner, Ellender, and Taft Senate bill No. S. 1592 in part is as follows:

"SEO. 2. The Congress hereby declares that the general welfare and security of the Nation and the health and living standards of its people require a production of residential construction and related community development sufficient to remedy the serious cumulative housing shortage, to eliminate slums and blighted areas, to realize as soon as feasible the goal of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family, and to develop and redevelop communities so as to advance the growth and wealth of the Nation. The Congress further declares that such production is necessary to enable the construction industry to make its full contribution toward an economy of full production and full employment."

I believe that it is necessary for this bill now pending before the Banking and Currency Committee of the United States Senate to be amended so as to provide that where counties or municipalities would be eligible for participation under the General Housing Act of 1945, except for restrictive State legislation, that where meritorious applications are filed, or are now pending, by such counties or municipalities, that the National Housing Administrator shall have the authority to earmark and set aside funds to be appropriated under the General Housing Act of 1945, subject to and contingent upon a change of the State law, either by judicial determination or legislative act, which would permit Federal aid for public housing to be used in such States, counties and municipalities. Unless such an amendment is made a part of Senate bill 1592, it is probable that even though the need be great for public housing in Jefferson County, Ala. that all the appropriations made to carry out the purposes of the Wagner. Ellender, and Taft bill will be committed before the applications from Jefferson County, Ala., and the municipalities therein can be considered favorably and acted upon by the National Housing Administrator. By amending the bill as suggested, the rights of the citizens of Jefferson County, Ala., and any other State. county, or municipality will be protected and the homeless may look forward to a decent home, as is the purpose of the General Housing Act of 1945. Respectfully,



The Chicago Council Against Racial and Religious Discrimination, which coordinates the work of more than 65 labor, business, veterans, religious, and civie groups daily, witnesses the tragic and appalling need for decent living space that confronts so many of our citizens. We therefore welcome and acclaim any measures designed to provide more plentiful housing at reasonable prices; and especially such a measure as the General Housing Act of 1945 (S. 1592), the most comprehensive housing bill yet introduced in Congress. We feel, however, that certain amendments are necessary if the bill is to be fully effective for those who most need housing. As Senator Wagner said in introducing the bill: "It is high time that we stop improvising, get a true perspective of the whole problem, and work out a sound, long-term solution."

Like its predecessors, the general housing bill is based on the assumption that people have poor housing because they cannot afford better. As Senator Talt expressed it: "The problem of housing is fundamentally one of cost. The need for public housing and the difficulty of providing decent housing and getting rid of the slums arise largely from the fact that today the cost of housing is such that a large number of people, a very large proportion of the population, is unable to pay, within their income, the rent which must be paid for new housing units, or to buy the houses, if they wish to buy them." That is true for the majority of Americans, but it is not true for our colored minorities. Barred by widespread segregation pacts (racial restrictive covenants), they cannot rent or buy in any but the most densely crowded areas. New land sites are open to those white citizens who have the money to buy, but they are closed to colored citizens, not by any public statutes (which are unconstitutional) but by private agreements. In 1320 the commission on race relations appointed by Governor Lowden, of Illinois, to study the causes of Chicago's race riots of 1919, published this conclusion: "Our inquiry has shown that insufficiency in amount and quality of housing is an all-important factor in Chicago's race problem. ** We believe that efforts at segregation would not solve, but would accentuate, the

race problem.

During the years since then, however, the housing insufficiency in Chicago has become much more intense; and segregation is more complete. In 1920 there were 109,000 Negroes in Chicago, today there are more than 360,000. Yet the area open to Negroes has increased hardly at all. It is quite impossible to exaggerate the need for more space. In the words of the Illinois Interracial Commission, appointed by Gov. Dwight H. Green: "The simple, stark fact, stripped of all obscurantist adornment, is that the Negro population in urban centers, hemmed by walls of restrictive covenants and public and private antipathy, and living in conditions of indescribable squalor, is desperately in need of additional housing facilities. It is no accident that the ratio of adult and juvenile delinquency in the so-called Black Belt of Chicago surpasses that of most white neighborhoods. Nor is it surprising to find in this area of densest Negro concentration a high incidence of health deterioration and a resulting death rate alarmingly in excess of that of the white population. ** The responsibility for this deplorable condition is squarely and unequivocally that of the collective community. Lack of initiative on the part of public officials in the enforcement of health and sanitation standards as well as the absence of intelligent programs for the planning and development of methods of community expansion are factors which have contributed heavily to the miserable plight of the Negro. In like measure, individual lethargy in comprehending the imperative social aspects of the Negro housing problem, and the forces responsible for the growing use of restrictive covenants, must share the responsibility. The Negro, as a component part of human society, by all elementary principles of decency and justice, must be provided with the basic needs requisite to survival.


* *



The Federal Housing Administration, which in 1941 (the last prewar year) insured the mortgages of 41 percent of all new single-family urban dwellings, and which will continue to function under the general housing bill, has a sorry record of fostering residential segregation. Their Underwriters Manual warns against insuring mortgages "where little or no protection is provided from adinfluences verse (as) * the infiltration of inharmonious racial groups." The manual also says: "If a neighborhood is to retain stability, it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes," and adds that deed restrictions should include "prohibition of the occupance of properties except by the race for which they are intended." Such regulations are deplorable, not only because the Federal Housing Administration, as a public agency, ought to lead the way to fair business practices, but also because FHA standards tend to become the standards of the building industry. Race restrictive covenants can be pushed as a part of "Government standards."

Therefore, the Chicago Council Against Racial and Religious Discrimination recommends the inclusion, under title 1, section 108, of S. 1592, of the following amendment:

"The Administrator and Commissioners shall be responsible for the equal distribution of all powers and benefits under this act, without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin, and shall assure themselves that considerations of race or national origin have no place in the rating of mortgage risks."

This amendment will insure that those who most desperately need decent homes may at least otbain a share in the benefits of this forward-looking act.

(The American Federation of Labor submitted the following communications from its affiliates:)


The White House.

Washington, D. C., February 6, 1946.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: The housing expediter, Wilson Wyatt, has completed the veterans' emergency housing program you requested him to formulate. At every stage of preparation of this program labor was accorded full consultation. This emergency program is now ready to be launched. We know that you are aware of the large degree to which the success of this program will depend on the cooperation of organized labor and are anxious to have the views of the American Federation of Labor regarding its fulfillment.

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Mr. Wyatt's program requests that we do what seems to be impossible. The records show we did what seemed to be impossible when we were fighting to win the war. Organized labor shared unstintingly with others in the all-out effort to reach and surpass what seemed to be unattainable goals. Please be assured that we will do what seems to be impossible again in order to meet the gravest emergency of peace.

The housing crisis is such an emergency. To resolve it, the American Federation of Labor is ready to cooperate to the limit in the attainment of objectives Mr. Wyatt has set.

Local A. F. of L. housing committees are already being formed in more than 800 communities to make labor's utmost contribution to the emergency housing task at the community level. Maximum cooperation will be given to our affiliates in the recruitment and training of qualified workers needed to carry out the program. Labor representatives will likewise be ready to do their share to accelerate the expansion of production of scarce building materials and to speed their distribution.

The program contemplates a number of Federal financial aids to stimulate production. We ask that outright disbursement of Federal funds be kept to the minimum consistent with the goals and that self-liquidating loans be given preference to grants wherever possible. A revolving loan fund should be established for this purpose, with repayments to begin after the emergency is over. We question the soundness of the 3-year amortization of new plants and machinery to be provided for permanent peacetime use. We ask that fair minimum wage standards and firm standards of performance and quality be made a condition of Federal financial assistance in every form.

In the expansion of the total volume of housing construction, use of newly developed methods will be needed to supplement the standard methods of home construction. Utmost care must be exercised to make sure that scarce materials are not diverted from the readily available established channels of standard construction into experimental channels from which production will not immediately flow. The objective should always be to supplement rather than supplant the volume of efficient standard construction.

Enactment of the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill, S. 1592, is indispensable to the success of the emergency program. The provisions of this permanent legislation can well serve the emergency needs by assuring the flow of new homes into moderate priced and low rent fields where the need is the greatest. We hope this crucial relationship will be given fullest recognition in the administration of the emergency housing plan.

Respectfully yours,


President, American Federation of Labor.

Chairman, Housing Committee, American Federation of Labor.


The American Federation of Labor, its central labor unions, building and construction trades councils, and other affiliates in local communities are organized and prepared to give the fullest measure of cooperation to the industry and the Government, Federal and local, in a concerted drive to meet the critical housing shortage.

The building and construction trade-unions of the A. F. of L. are formulating a series of positive programs to assure to the Nation an ample supply of building trades mechanics and laborers in all classifications of skill in every community to build the volume of housing construction urgently required under the existing conditions. Fullest cooperation is being given by our unions in developing and putting into effect apprentice-training programs to provide employment opportunities under fair labor standards to returning veterans and to workers displaced from war jobs. Our unions have assumed their full share of responsibility in expediting these programs ich have already been set up in cooperation with construction contractors under the standards approved by the appren tice-training service of the Department of Labor. There are today nearly 12,000 contractors who have joined with unions in establishing area-wide programs in 900 communities. The executive council commends the building and construction trades department for its leadership in this vital work.

Acute shortage of certain scarce building materials is the biggest barrier in the way of rapid expansion of home construction. We urge the adoption of the following emergency programs to accelerate increased home construction and expedite reconversion:

(1) Congressional appropriation to establish a revolving fund for loans and special financial aids to building-materials manufacturers which would enable them to expand production to capacity volume. Requirement of minimum-wage standards as a condition of such financial aid.

(2) Immediate action to raise the low wages which prevail in the manufacture of certain building materials to a fair standard. Provision should be made for price adjustments in cases where wages have been actually corrected, but only where there is a proved need to modify price ceilings for this purpose.

(3) A temporary emergency program of allocations of scarce building materials which would (a) assure a supply of materials for the essential minimum of industrial and other nonresidential construction, and (b) direct the flow of the bulk of building materials into the construction of moderate-priced and low-rent homes under firm quality standards. This temporary allocation program should be decentralized in order to fit the needs of different areas, and should be subject to quarterly revisions. Allocations should be terminated

as soon as the supply of materials is adequate.

Wage incomes are being generally reduced. Wage earners and veterans must be protected against further increases in the cost of living due to inflated cost of shelter. Continuation of effective rent control until the supply of rental dwellings is adequate is a vital necessity to all workers and to the whole Nation. The postwar housing emergency was aggravated but not created by the war. It is the outgrowth of a quarter-century of failure to provide an adequate supply of moderate-priced homes within reach of families of small means. America's housing emergency will not be met by emergency means alone. We make an emphatic call upon Congress to enact without delay the Wagner-Ellender-Taft general housing bill, S. 1592, which embodies a long-range program for housing families of all incomes with the maximum reliance on private enterprise and local initiative. This bipartisan legislation contains the major objectives of the national housing policy formulated by the A. F. of L., and has the unqualified support of the great mass of wage earners. It is the only program which will provide the complete answer to America's housing need.

The executive council welcomes the appointment of Wilson Wyatt as the national housing expediter and his nomination as the Administrator of the National Housing Agency. The A. F. of L. will give Mr. Wyatt fullest cooperation in every sound measure he undertakes to accomplish his difficult task. The Nation-wide drive just launched by President William Green and Chairman Harry C. Bates of the A. F. of L. Housing Committee in 800 communities for labor's active aid in carrying out local programs, is evidence of labor's preparedness to make a real contribution to the public interest.

February 12, 1946.


Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking and Currency,
United States Senate, Washington 25, D. C.

DEAR SENATOR WAGNER: The women's auxiliaries of the American Federation of Labor, representing families of wage-earners in all part of the country, wish to record their firm and wholehearted support of the Wagner-Ellender-Talf general housing bill, S.1592. As housewives and mothers, the members of our organization are keenly aware of the problems of housing and homemaking. Thus we have a special interest in seeing that S. 1592 is promptly enacted to launch without delay its sound and comprehensive plans for building better bomes for all our people. The kind of homes Americans need for healthy family life cannot be provided by emergency, stop-gap measures; S. 1592 must be enacted


As those on whom falls the major responsibility for budgeting the family expenses, we are anxious to stress the special importance of the provisions in titles III and IV for reducing the monthly payments on small homes so that families of moderate incomes can at last afford the homes that private enterprise builds. All these provisions are vital to the program, but of especial merit,

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