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GENERAL HOUSING ACT OF 1945
Mr. FARR. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. What have we done under that act?
Mr. FARR. Well, in Chicago there has been-there were originally three projects built under that act.
The CHAIRMAN. Slums were razed, weren't they?
Mr. FARR. NO. The first project, the Jane Addams project was in a slum area. The other two were on vacant land. The Julia Lathrop was on the north branch of the Chicago River.
The CHAIRMAN. You put some low-income homes in there.
Mr. FARR. They were plain, simple houses.
The CHAIRMAN. But they were sanitarily perfect, weren't they?
The CHAIRMAN. They gave a number of people a chance to live in a decent home.
Mr. FARR. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. That helped the city, too.
Now, in New York we had a number of them built under that act with Federal Government aid. Do you know Red Hook?
Mr. FARR. NO; I don't.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know Williamsburg?
Mr. FARR. I know of the project, but I am not familiar with it.
The CHAIRMAN. There are a number of them where they aided poor people a great deal. We wanted a great deal more of them, but that was done under an act.
You say we have done nothing about those people.
Mr. FARR. I am talking about the facility for assembling the land which can be redeveloped and rebuilt by private enterprise.
The CHAIRMAN. Private enterprise couldn't do that. They told us they couldn't do it. So that we had to go through the United States Housing Administration.
Mr. FARR. Remember this, that the cost of assembling the land in these areas, many old buildings have to be purchased and then wrecked and the cost is much higher than a group of private builders can afford to pay for the purpose of redevelopment. We will say it costs $3 a square foot to assemble land. It is only worth a dollar a square foot for redevelopment purposes.
Under the slum clearance provisions of this act, you do provide for that program, but I say it has not been provided before. We think that program should be started, and private enterprise should be given every encouragement to operate under that program. see what they can produce. Let's
The CHAIRMAN. They had their chance in New York, Mr. Farr. They had their opportunity and they were unable to do it, so that the Government had to step in, and incidentally, we didn't put these poor people living in the slums under the most terrible unsanitary conditions, back in some other slums. We put them in these clean new simple homes, where they are living now.
Mr. FARR. Remember this, that private enterprise hasn't had any opportunity to acquire this land at a price low enough to redevelop. The provisions of this bill will provide assistance from the Government and from the local municipalities to write down the cost of this land to a point where it is economically sound to redevelop it. That is a feature that has never been produced before. We have had slum
development in cities where a local group has had an opportunity to go in and redevelop land, but they have had to pay what it cost to assemble that land and the cost was so high the project was not sound economically.
The CHAIRMAN. New York State passed a law, too, you remember that, and they have appropriated large sums of money to aid in slum clearance.
Mr. FARR. We have a law in the State of Illinois which was enacted at the last session of our legislature which will also help along those lines; that we think is constructive. We think that the wise way to assemble land and make it available
The CHAIRMAN. What do you do with the poor people under your act?
Mr. FARR. Well, every time a new house is built, whether it is in the low-income bracket or the middle bracket, or the high bracket, it provides accommodations for someone to live in. We want to provide accommodations, as I see it, for people in all brackets to have living accommodations. If you take a family out of a lower price house and put them into a higher price house, the lower price house is available for someone else.
I don't think we should confine ourselves entirely to the construction of the minimum-cost home. I think we should provide for the type of people who are in this room today, to have places to live. Many of our friends cannot find apartments or houses to live in today. I think people in all classes should be housed, and the more housing that we can produce of different classes the more it will help alleviate the situation.
Senator ELLENDER. That is what we had in mind in providing more tools so that private industry could do more of the job.
Mr. FARR. We respect that provision of the bill.
Senator ELLENDER. You respect everything in the bill except public housing, as I understand it, generally speaking.
Mr. FARR. There are certain points we are raising in this statement
Senator Wagner, Mr. McCord is trying to catch a train. I have missed mine, but he can still catch his, and he would like to file his statement before he leaves.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well. Who is that?
Mr. FARR. Mr. Paul McCord, of Indianapolis.
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes. He is with the United States Chamber of Commerce.
All right, Mr. McCord.
STATEMENT OF PAUL L. McCORD, PRESIDENT, INDIANAPOLIS REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION, INDIANAPOLIS, IND.
Mr. McCORD. Mr. Chairman, my name is Paul L. McCord. I live in Indianapolis and I am president of the board of commissioners of the recently established Redevelopment Department of the City Government of Indianapolis. I am appearing on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States and I have brought with me to assist in making this presentation William H. Book, executive vice. president of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.
I am sorry I have to rush off because I would like to answer the question that Senator Ellender has been asking all afternoon. I am here to tell you a little about how we in Indianapolis have met with our own resources and our own ingenuity the problem that you gentlemen are trying to solve on a national basis.
This is a redevelopment plan at the city level. It is working. It is not theory. It is practical. I would have much preferred to have delivered this discussion here and subjected myself to your questioning, but that seems to be impossible, so I will present this statement. Senator ELLENDER. Is that the so-called Indianapolis plan we heard about this afternoon?
Mr. McCORD. That is correct.
Senator ELLENDER. How much slum have you cleared?
Mr. McCORD. We are in the process of developing the first area. Senator ELLENDER. Oh, it is just a new project?
Mr. McCORD. The law was just passed in March, at the general assembly.
Senator ELLENDER. Does the State furnish the funds?
Mr. McCORD. The State does not.
Senator ELLENDER. The city does?
Mr. McCORD. We taxed ourselves to the extent of 10 cents in our tax levy which furnishes us—————
Senator ELLENDER. Ten cents per thousand?
Mr. McCORD. Per hundred dollars, in the general levy, and in Indianapolis
Senator ELLENDER. Is that $10 per thousand?
Mr. McCORD. $10 per thousand. Our tax rate is $3.45, if I remember right, per $100. Out of that 10 cents goes for some slum clearance. That is a sufficient sum of money to do that job. I think if you will examine this plan you will see in it an idea that bigger cities can take to their bosom because they have more money to work with than we do.
Senator ELLENDER. Do you find it very difficult to get the local people to vote such a tax?
Mr. McCORD. We did not. We had a very substantial majority in both houses of the legislature. There was no difficulty before the board of review when the tax levy was discussed.
Senator ELLENDER. This land is purchased by an authority and it is charged down to an economic price-that is, one that would give a better return to the investor?
Mr. McCORD. That is correct.
Senator ELLENDER. Then how do you plan to build on that?
Mr. McCORD. That property will be replotted, replanned, and restricted so that it will get into the right usage and fit into the city's master plan, and be sold to private enterprise for redevelopment and financing through the FHA.
Senator ELLENDER. You have to get Government dollars to rebuild it-FHA, or some plan that we have?
Senator ELLENDER. I presume you are for this bill, except the public. housing feature, aren't you?
Mr. McCORD. No, I am not; but that is a long, long story and I have only got a few minutes.
The CHAIRMAN. May I ask you one question? You are clearing the slums?
Mr. McCORD. That is right. I have some pictures here I would like for you to see. Those I am going to leave with you.
The CHAIRMAN. What do you do with those displaced people, or slum dwellers?
Mr. McCORD. There are enough undeveloped areas in most of our slums, as we studied them-I didn't know our slums until we started to study them-we found there is enough undeveloped areas in most of our slums to start developing, so that these people can be gradually moved out.
The CHAIRMAN. Where do you move them into?
Mr. McCORD. Our studies have developed the fact-and this is factual, this is not guesswork-our studies have developed the fact that a majority of the people living in the bad housing are able and willing and anxious to have better housing and can pay for it.
Senator ELLENDER. You have a lot of folks in your city, I presume, that prior to the war and probably after the war, will get from $800 to $1,200 a year.
Mr. McCORD. That is correct.
Senator ELLENDER. You think you will be able to provide decent housing at a rent commensurate with their ability to pay?
Mr. McCORD. No, sir. It is absolutely insane to think
Senator ELLENDER. Well, how do you propose to take care of those people?
Mr. McCORD. Senator, as you make housing available at the lowest income level, there is always a filtering down, that is one way. Are you going to penalize the people in housing who have shown thrift in this country? There is only going to be a limited amount of building material and labor available in the next 2 years. Who should get housing first, the people who have shown some thrift and are able to pay rents or purchase, or the people who are the poor, whom we will have with us always?
Senator ELLENDER. Then your system is the same as that advocated by Mr. Farr-that is, as people move out of the old housing the lower group can come in and occupy these vacated homes.
Mr. McCORD. I was born in an old house, and I expect you were too. Senator ELLENDER. Sure I was.
Mr. McCORD. There is no disgrace in living in an old house. Senator ELLENDER. I was born in one that cost less than $400. Mr. McCORD. My house was green. I know plenty of people that live in old houses. I live in a 25-year-old house today, but that doesn't mean it is a slum. It doesn't have to be a slum.
Senator ELLENDER. Well, you have facilities in that.
Mr. McCORD. It is our purpose to eliminate those houses without facilities, just as fast as humanly possible. We think so far as past record is concerned we can do it faster than the Federal Government. Your bill proposes that the Federal Government engage in a tremendous housing program that includes a comprehensive redevelopment operation. This means that you are proposing to use Federal funds to assist municipalities in such projects. We in Indianapolis are already doing this job. We are doing it with no assistance from
the Federal Government. We are do not need that assistance, and we do not want that assistance. We think that on the basis on which we are proceeding, most cities-perhaps all cities-can do the same. The bill which you are considering involves the Federal Government in intricate municipal operations. To my mind this is unnecessary. Why? Let me tell you about what we are doing in our communitya metropolitan area of 400,000 people-who are deeply conscious of public debt and their own responsibility to meet their own problems without financial crutches furnished by the United States Treasury. May I take a few moments before describing the Indianapolis redevelopment plan, to describe a few of the characteristics of the city, which have a bearing on the conception and execution of the plan? Indianapolis is a city of about 400,000 population within its official borders, plus about 70,000 who live under urban conditions around its perimeter.
It is 125 years old; the second largest State capital.
Of its total population, there are at this time about 185,000 persons gainfully employed. They are roughly divided into main classifications as follows: Industry, 100,000; retail, wholesale, and service trades, 53,205; employees of State, local, and Federal Governments, 16,351; and miscellaneous occupations, 15,444.
From the above it will be noted that while this is a State capital, with substantial employment from the public service, it nevertheless is an important manufacturing center, and hence could be expected to have problems that arise from growth and expansion and offsetting blight and retrogression that mark all such large cities.
It has, however, an area of 53.86 square miles within its official borders, and the urban population on the outside of the official city is contained within approximately 15 square miles, which means that it has an average density of population of 11.6 persons per acre within the city, and 7.29 in the area outside, or an average of 10.66 persons in the entire metropolitan area. That is an important characteristic to note, because it is substantially lower than that of typical eastern -cities, and somewhat lower than most older cities in the Midwest.
Indianapolis, therefore, does not have extensive closely built-up areas of tenements and row houses. It does have, however, numerous areas in which property has suffered severe depreciation, so as to be properly classified as slums which are common in all of our large cities.
In these areas, unsanitary, congested, unkempt housing has been a major factor in the prevalence of disease and crime. These areas, according to our official records, produce contagion and other health conditions, far out of proportion to their percentage of the total population. Likewise they require expenditures far above the average for crime control and social-welfare activities of government.
Far from producing in tax revenue enough money to pay the costs of governmental services which they require, they are a heavy drain upon all the rest of the taxpaying community. These facts were gathered to determine whether the citizens, through their municipal government, had justification for spending tax money to remedy these conditions. The committee then concluded that the local government was fully justified in doing so if for no other reason, because it could make these areas more nearly self-supporting, but that it also had the obligation to do so for the welfare of all of its citizens.