« PreviousContinue »
working all the time with private-enterprise groups in this area of getting costs down as low as they can be gotten; and I say to you frankly that my greatest concern is that we are further away instead of nearer to the time of private enterprise getting down to a lowercost figure, and that is why I am so tremendously interested in your proposals for the middle market, which I shall discuss more later.
Now, this business about the families themselves being at fault. Well, I have been in the business of studying those families and their habits from the social-service and the public-health point of view, and I can assure you that I have no biased attitude toward it. Í will present to you without reading it, what I think you will find is one of the most authentic and scientific and objective approaches to the relation between housing and health that has been presented. I happen to be the chairman of the joint committee of the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Housing Officials that is now conducting a thorough study of that subject, to go beyond all of the data that we have today. But I won't go intoit is a very technical matter. I would like to read just a section here having to do with mental health.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you want to put that in the record?
Mr. MARGUETTE. I want to put it in the record. I will give that to you for the record immediately after I read this one paragraph.
The evidence as to the relation between housing in the broad sense and mental health is limited-and I have been interested in mental health for 25 years also, and established the central mental hygiene clinic of Cincinnati-but many health authorities (and that includes Dr. C. E. A. Winslow, professor of public health of Yale University and formerly president of the American Public Health Association, than whom there is no greater public health authority in the United States) believe the effects on human behavior and mental stability are. greater than on organic health. It requires no accumulation of statistical data to convince reasonable people that slum conditions offer nothing that is conducive to mental poise or adjustment. When five or six people have to carry on all the intimate functions of life in three shabby, poorly lighted tenement rooms-and they do in St. Louis and in New York and in all the large cities of America today, all too many of them-with no chance for privacy, no sanitary convenience in the flat except a cold-water sink; în a run-down neighborhood with a saloon on one corner and a cheap dance hall on the other, with no park or playground within a mile; noisy and hot in summer and cold and stuffy in winter-there is little in the environment that promotes feelings of security or self-assurance. Indeed, the preschool youngster who has no place to play and the school-age child who has no chance for quiet home study grow up under major handicaps. That so many of these children escape an overpowering sense of shame and inferiority in such an environment and that so many develop into useful, efficient citizens is a tribute to the toughness of human fibernot to the wisdom of modern society that tolerates such conditions. I would call your attention to another matter in here, which I will not read, which was proved by my own statistical research department in health.
The CHAIRMAN. If you don't mind, do you object to our putting this into the record?
Mr. MARQUETTE. Not at all. I am glad to have you do it.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
(The document referred to, entitled "The Influence of Housing on Health," appears at the conclusion of the witness' statement.)
Mr. MARQUETTE. And this, what I am going to say, is in the record, but I will say it from my knowledge of the facts.
With regard to tuberculosis, the Negro tuberculosis mortality in practically every large city in the country is between four and six times as high as the white tuberculosis mortality rate, but in our own community where it is six times as high, where you take the Negroes in the lowest economic area and in the worst housing, and the Negroes in the next best, and the Negroes in the very best, you will find a difference of five and one-half times there between those of lowest income and those of best income.
So that the idea that it is altogether a matter of resistance is not true. It is also a matter of environment, and as long as we continue to keep Negroes, who are the worst sufferers in the entire country everywhere from our rotten housing-as long as you keep them there, you will never bring together the tuberculosis mortalities from those two groups.
For the whites of our city the difference is three to one, three times as high among the lowest compared with the highest economic, and that also goes for the best and the worst housing. It was twọ and one-half times 10 years ago, in 1930, and it is three times now. In other words, we are not making progress in narrowing the gap, and that is notwithstanding the fact that the tuberculosis mortality has come down perceptibly. We submit that it is possible to decrease tuberculosis mortality by public health measures and better medical care, but we also submit that there will continue to be that disgraceful gap between the possibilities for health and life of people that live in slums and under poor economic conditions. And I do not separate" them, because they are inseparable, so far as any studies that have been made so far prove.
And now I will go to the text of my statement. This statement is presented on behalf of the executives of the National Council of Housing Associations-made up of associations of citizens interested in housing in the 10 large American cities listed at the end of the statement. Time did not permit submitting the memorandum for approval by the boards of these agencies though they are known to approve the general purport of its contents.
These associations are supported by war chests or by donations. Their sole purpose is to promote an adequate supply of good homes for people in their own communities and in the country as a whole. They believe that our main reliance should and must be placed on private enterprise but that the needs of low-income families can at present be met only by a sound program of public housing.
I am likewise authorized as chairman of the Ohio Housing Council to state its concurrence in this presentation. The Ohio Housing Council is made up of representatives of State-wide civic organizations, women's clubs, the clergy, labor, real estate, social agencies and Negro civic organizations.
Public opinion is now fully aroused to insistence that there is no longer any excuse for allowing our people and especially our child
population, to live under conditions of housing destructive to health, citizenship, and to the dignity of the individual.
Servicemen returning with the knowledge that they won through to victory at tremendous personal sacrifice and feeling that they have the right to an opportunity for healthful, comfortable homes will add a mighty voice to the call for action calculated to provide adequately for our housing needs.
Appreciation to sponsors of Senate 1592: The country owes a tribute to the members of the Senate subcommittee that prepared the momentous report on postwar housing and in particular to the authors and sponsors of this great measure-Senate 1592. It is, in our judgment, one of the most timely and far-reaching social measures ever presented to the Congress. We are particularly gratified that it is a nonpartisan measure. On behalf of our communities, we thank Senators Wagner, Ellender, and Taft, for putting this great issue ahead of any considerations of party or of politics.
Need for speed: This general housing bill of 1945 must not only be enacted but it must be pushed with all possible vigor and adopted with all speed consistent with sufficient opportunity for hearings and such thoughtful discussions as will assure the Nation of the best possible housing program. If we fail to act promptly on a satisfactory measure, it will be a devastating blow to the hopes of millions who have waited so long for a chance for decent housing and especially to the hopes of veterans and their families.
The present housing crisis and the long-time program: Practically every sizable community in the land faces a desperate shortage of homes. In my own community, Cincinnati, there has not been in the past quarter of a century such widespread overcrowding, so great a shortage of homes, or such an upsurge of citizen interest in housing. Scarcely a day has passed during the past 2 weeks when housing has not had front-page headlines in the Cincinnati press. In other large cities, and I have been in Chicago, Cleveland, and Columbus since, the same situation prevails.
The return of millions of men now anxiously awaiting discharge will make the situation more critical month by month. Emergency measures must be taken to insure sharing of the existing supply, full and immediate utilization of such temporary dwellings as are available and priorities for home-building materials, so that this obstacle now slowing down the home building industry may be promptly eliminated.
I would like to stop there to ask your consideration, and I don't know what action is required, to make it possible to direct home-building materials to the building of homes and not to unessential things. I think that is absolutely critical to meet the present situation that is holding up home building. I don't know whether it requires an act of Congress or whether there is any administrative department enabled to do it, but I commend it to your very careful consideration as in my judgment one of the most
Senator MITCHELL. That is any home, or a certain category of homes?
Mr. MARQUETTE. Well, I would be, of course, interested in homes costing $6,000 or less, but my inclination would be not to limit it, because I think any addition to the housing supply is so vital that I
do not think the materials should go into garages and movie houses and other unessential things. It ought to go into home building.
Senator MITCHELL. Do you think any other emergency legislation should be adopted pending the adoption of this whole bill? You say emergency measures must be taken, and I wondered what those
Mr. MARQUETTE. Yes. The other one, I think the local communities themselves have got to do certain things. I have recommended to my own community that the city itself set up an emergency housing bureau officially and go after the full utilization of the supply. I could go into detail of what I mean, but I won't take time.
The other measure that would require action perhaps is a setting up again of the plan under which the Home Owners' Loan Corporation during the war had the power to lease and reconstruct large buildings to make multiple-dwelling units out of them and then at the end of a 7year period would return them to their owner.
Those are the two measures that I think should be given consideration at the Federal level.
The crisis we now face is due to the unavoidable curtailment of home building as a war necessity. It cannot be met satisfactorily except by a long-time program to stimulate the construction of houses of good standard in good neighborhoods. Senate 1592 is the one measure before the Nation most likely to accomplish this objective.
Relation of private enterprise to public housing: To the best of our knowledge, not only the authors of this bill, and the members of the National Council of Housing Associations, but every group unselfishly interested in a sound housing program for the Nation wants private enterprise given every practicable aid to produce housing for every sector of the population it can accommodate in good standard homes within their means.
We are equally in agreement with the principle so well stated in the Senate subcommittee report, that where private operators cannot meet the need then public housing must do so. Private industry, unaided, has had 50 years to try to solve the housing problem. Yet, except for the improvements in private financing through FHAwhich was one of the greatest contributions to better homes and eliminates the rotten and costly second-mortgage business and produces a better standard of house. And that was Government, which many don't want anything of. That was Government that aided private enterprise to do that job-better protection of home neighborhoods through building codes, zoning, and planning, and the modest contribution of public housing-and I want to say that, whatever the public housing may be in St. Louis, it is mighty good at Cincinnati, and I am proud to back them against all comers. I am a consultant for the housing authority, and I know what they have done. We are no nearer the solution today than we were at the turn of the century. No measure ever presented offers more practical aids to private-enterprise housing than this bill.
The greatest unmet housing need, except for that of very low-income families which commercial building never has and cannot meet, is the middle market which private enterprise must meet. It cannot build for the middle market without new tools. And I mention the fact that today we cannot build in Cincinnati for less than $8,000. That
means total monthly payments and upkeep of close to $75. And the situation isn't much different in other northern cities. Those costs are beyond the means of millions. How can the building industry achieve its full possibilities and make its full contribution to employment unless it can serve a greater percentage of its market?
Now I am coming to something, and I don't believe it has been brought to your attention, and maybe many of you gentlemen here do not realize it is a very significant thing:
Home ownership in this country is on the decline. Between 1930 and 1940 every one of the largest American cities experienced a loss in the percentage of homes owned. Not only that, but eight of them in 1940 had the lowest percentage of home ownership in 40 years. There is something the matter.
The CHAIRMAN. I didn't realize that.
Mr. MARQUETTE. Did you have that information, Senator?
Mr. MARQUETTE. Well, it is a fact, and I have the substantiating data, based on the United States census figures.
One factor accounting for this is that the cost of homes has been beyond the reach of millions. The other is fear of the loss of equity. They haven't forgotten what happened during the depression and how the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, set up by the Government, saved a million of them from losing their equities.
The special safeguard, permitting lapse of payments by home buyers during short periods of distress, is an important provision of this
Let there be no mistake about it. It will take more than highpressure salesmanship and far-flung publicity campaigns, as some people seem to think are the only thing needed, to reverse the downward trend of home ownership that occurred during the past decade.
While we are all for home ownership for those who want it and those who can afford it, many families-and that was said here todayincluding those of veterans, cannot or do not want to buy. They should not be compelled to do so because of the lack of rental housing? We favor more good standard rental housing by private enterprise for the middle market. We therefore support the provision of this bill for yield insurance. We don't guarantee as to what it will do, but we do say that it is the most promising means that we know of of encouraging large financial institutions to build dwelling accommodations at lower rents than are normally possible in new construction. These two provisions, to promote homes for sale at lower costs and to foster lower rental housing, will help private operators to meet the needs of the middle market..
Now I want to digress again. Some things have been said about some of these provisions: The great bulk of the FHA operations have been in the middle market. It has been said, the great bulk of FHA operations have been in the middle market. Well, the FHA's own figures-unless I can't read figures-as for 1940 show that 95 percent were for families whose incomes were $1,500 a year or more, and 70 percent for those whose incomes were $2,000 a year or more. Now, that isn't the bulk of FHA serving the middle market.
The argument is made that we can only build maybe 500,000 houses. I don't know; maybe we can't build that many until the building in