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Mr. O'HARA. But it is further your feeling--and I understand from your statement it is—that the existence of such a commission with the status and prestige that it would have, which is attempting to formulate an overall policy with regard to the aged, would give to its recommendations a weight that today no one group's recommendations with regard to the aged might have?
Mr. ODELL. That is correct, and I think in addition, that it would be in a position to lift the level of consideration by departments and agencies to the point where we are talking primarily about what is good for older people and the country, rather than what is good for any particular department or agency or bureau within a department.
Mr. O'HARA. What do you understand to be the functions of the commission proposed in the Fogarty-McNamara bill, apart from their function of coordinating and stimulating Federal programs?
Mr. ODELL. Well, I think I mentioned the specific areas. They would be responsible for a grants program to States, and of course everyone agrees that this is necessary. We in Michigan are constantly frustrated by the fact that as a small newcomer in the family of State agencies we get the crumbs off the table, particularly because of our great fiscal problems within the State, and I think that a well-administered grants program which would assist us in carrying out our functions, but not deny to us the responsibility that we have for trying to get financial and administrative support within the State, would help very greatly
I think in addition that the grants program which would make possible a series of demonstrations and research projects at the local level is of great importance, because we know a great many things in Michigan that we would like to do and that we know communities and agencies would like to do, both in the large cities, and in the rural areas, but we are powerless to promote and initiate these programs, because the question always comes up, even when you can get limited grants under Federal programs, “If we do this job, and it succeeds, who is going to take on the long-term responsibility for financing the program?”
We must be in a position to assure these people, if we want them to help out in demonstration and research programs, that when they demonstrate that something worth while is being done, there is going to be some support for continuing it. Mr. O'HARA. The purpose of my question was to get your
viewpoint as we did with regard to just what effect this grant program which is proposed under the Fogarty-McNamara bills would have upon the State commissions and the various State agencies as well as the local, public, and private nonprofit groups that would be the recipients of the grants.
Your experience as chairman of the Michigan Commission on the Aged would suggest to you that this would be of substantial benefit to the aged, to have this sort of a grant program operated; is that correct?
Mr. ODELL. There is absolutely no question about it. One of your big difficulties has been the fact that we have all the fact data, the statistics, if you will, in the world. We know the problem in statistical terms. We know some of the directions in which we ought to be going to seek solutions but what we lack is the resources to pursue
those solutions in depth, in terms of their impact upon the older people that we are trying to serve. I think that the most significant thing that has happened in Michigan in the last year is that
we have stopped talking in terms of the problem, and have begun talking in terms of what we can do about the problem by working with manageable groups of older people.
The only limitation on what we can do is a financial limitation at this point, and, of course, the ultimate question of where will we get qualified personnel, professionally trained personnel to handle some of these responsibilities, but I think with the kind of grants program that is contemplated here, we can both get the money to demonstrate, and at the same time, use this as an opportunity to train additional personnel to work in this field, which is a tremendous problem we have right now.
Mr. O'HARA. I think that your statement was a complete one, and I want to express my personai appreciation to you for taking the time to come down and appear before the committee and give us the benefit of your vast experience in this field, and your thoughts with regard to how we can improve the activities of the Federal Government and the State and local government units with regard to the aged.
Mr. ODELL. Thank you, Congressman, and I would like to say for the record that we in Michigan, are proud that you are here, and that you are a member of this committee. It reassures us about what can happen in this field in the future.
Mr. BAILEY. Off the record.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I find Mr. Odell's testimony very provocative also. I would like to follow up very briefly this question on the importance of Federal grants in the field of the problems in aging.
As I understand it, you have found that the States, if they have an aggressive program, such as I am sure yours has, can identify the problems, and propose reasonable solutions to some of these problems. But that you are hampered at the present moment because of lack of money.
Mr. ODELL. That is correct.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. It is your thought that the Federal participation and a stepped-up Federal participation would simply be in the form of providing the States with additional money, or would they have direct responsibility at the Federal level which perhaps they do not have—or perhaps they already have it—both to identify the problems and to propose their own solutions?
Mr. ODELL. Well, I would hope that any Federal leadership in this field would derive from consultation with the States, and with the voluntary agencies to establish some order of priority, particularly in demonstration and research-oriented grants. I would look with some alarm on a Federal program which simply said, “We know what needs to be done, and all we want you to do is do it.”
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. You sound almost like a Republican, Mr. Odell. I am delighted to hear you say this.
Mr. ODELL. Well, unfortunately, or fortunately, I have deep convictions about the fact that we are not putting the resources that now exist in this field to work in an effective manner, and I think we can only do this by establishing channels of communication and relationship which make people feel that they are indeed partners in a national enterprise with Federal leadership, but with a maximum of cooperation from the States and from the voluntary agencies.
In my experience with the voluntaries, I find consistently that they are looking around for meaningful things to do in the field of aging, and because they have no leadership in a national sense, except as they get it in a limited way from the National Council on Aging, they tend to be duplicating effort, rather than maximizing effort in terms of exploring the things that need to be done and welding together a national program which impacts older people in the communities where they live.
Nr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Well, this brings me to my basic point. Are you not afraid that a U.S. Commission on the Aging will develop a clear voice, will develop a national program, which as you say, will be uninhibited by existing structures, not only at the Federal level, but at the State level, that somebody from Washington will come and tell you in your State that some programs that you have already started or would like to start are unsuitable, that they have got a better solution than the ones you have been developing, and is there no way in which we can prevent that from happening?
As you say, it may well be that the State of Michigan has provided the leadership to which the Nation can turn, but which may be actually handicapped if we get a group which speaks with such an authoritative voice that you no longer are in the driver's set, because the Federal Government will be providing the funds, and they will want to run your show, and would that not be undesirable ?
Mr. ODELL. Well, I think we have to distinguish here between problems that are essentially national in character and problems that are essentially State and local in character. We feel, for example, quite strongly—and I do not want to intrude this issue into the hearings in any significant way, because I agree that this is not the theater in which to resolve them—that a problem like health insurance for the aged cannot be resolved on a local basis or on a State basis; it is a national problem.
On the other hand, there are many problems in connection with the provision of basic services to older people, where I am sure that we could do a better job if we had some financial assistance on a modest scale to stimulate and give visibility to these problems and programs at the State and local level, and I would say that at least 60 percent of the problems in this field are problems that can best be resolved at the State and local level. There are some that are going to require national attention.
I do not see the commission as becoming the omnipotent voice which says "this is what we will do and nothing else." I see the commission as being a facilitating act, and I would be the last to recommend that it take unto itself the total responsibilities in this field, but I still feel that we need some kind of overhead structure which is responsive and responsible, and which gives meaningful leadership and which puts the resources of this great country to work in solving some of these problems, and we are not getting this kind of leadership now.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I wish we had time to explore what you consider the 40 percent which are problems which should concern the Federal Government primarily, and which are the 60 percent which you feel are primarily State and local. I think it is a very unhappy illustration that you gave us, this question of medical care for the aged. I would be very reluctant to promote the establishment of still another Federal agency to agitate this issue any further. It seems to me that the voices are sufficiently clear and sufficiently loud, at least what the executive branch of our Government would like us to do, and I am sure it is a complex question, and I doubt very much whether the commission on the aging is going to come up with any great solution as to how we should handle this that has not already been proposed.
Mr. ODELL. Well, I was not suggesting that this is an issue that the commission should become centrally concerned with. I was simply pointing out that when you suggested that I sound like a Republican, I simply want to make it clear that there are some things where I think that State and local action can be more effective than Federal action in solving problems, and I would like to see the Federal Government in the posture of encouraging that kind of development, but this does not mean that there are not transcending national problems that require attention at the national level.
Thank you very much.
Mr. BAILEY. Mr. Odell, you have handled this presentation in a masterful sort of way. It is easy to understand as a member of the committee that you know what you are talking about, and you have presented it very forcefully to the subcommittee. We hope to be able to get some type of legislation ready for consideration of the whole committee, at least, we will be able to have printed these hearings and try to create a national interest in doing something about these problems, and you have been quite helpful. We appreciate it very much.
Mr. ODELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your interest and support.
Mr. BAILEY. Thank you very much.
(The document referred to previously follows:) STATEMENT BY SAMUEL R. GEDDES, SENATOR, 11TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT (NAPA
Yolo COUNTIES) ; MEMBER, GOVERNOR'S ADVISORY COMMISSION ON PROBLEMS OF
HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY
Housing for the elderly, which I am particularly interested in, should be considered in all its phases largely from the viewpoint of deinstitutionalizing public housing.
The essential fact we must keep in mind when talking about housing for the elderly is that, by and large, it must, in some form or the other, be publicly assisted. About 15 percent of all persons over 65 have cash incomes of $20 a week or less and the proportion of older people with really adequate retirement incomes is inconsequential. Because of the continuing devaluation of money versus pension amounts fixed by accumulation of funds in eras when money was worth more, this will continue to be true. The absolute number of people over 65 is steadily increasing and their lifespan beyond that date is also steadily increasing, so the problem is going to get worse in the future instead of better.
HOUSING FOR THE ABLE-BODIED ELDERLY
For the first time in history, our tax money is being used for programs of slum clearance for the benefit of the well to do. Vast areas, usually containing much low-priced housing, are bulldozed to make way for luxury units at fantastic rents. The displaced people are simply shoved out of the area and into already overcrowded low-standard sections, where their presence pushes up rents even more for those least able to afford higher rents. Alternatively, they are exiled to housing projects, often remote.
To prevent this from happening, I advocate that 10 percent of all units in redevelopment areas be reserved for low-cost housing and I advocate that they be specially prepared for use by elderly people wider doors for easy access by wheel chairs, etc.
This move woud start to break the ugly pattern of low income project "ghettoes" which must someday be broken anyway, if the open structure of our society is to survive.
Land cost is no argument against such a requirement. If 10 percent of the units must be reserved for such a purpose, this merely lowers the earning power and the value of the land condemned for the redevelopment purpose, just as a requirement that a certain proportion of it must be devoted to parks will do.
The "court” type of housing exemplified in motels is a unique American development and should point the way to low-cost housing units which are efficient and attractive and which integrate people with existing neighborhoods instead of exiling them. For the morale of the elderly, this type of development is ideal, since it would not force them into an atmosphere alien to the attitudes they have estabilshed over the years. Efficiency apartments could be built at remarkably low cost. Wide doors and a motor stair or inclined ramp would be required.
In addition to homes of conventional construction a completely satisfactory type of home that can supply all comforts at a minimum cost is what we used to call a "trailer” and which has now become just what its trade name says, a "mobile home.” The advantages of this type of housing are privacy with ready accessibility, easy preparation, and landscaping of the site, location of homes where they are most needed and where community life is near to the occupants, easy removal of homes to other areas when land use changes, possibility of building in small colonies instead of large ones, and so forth. Use of hotels
There are many excellent older hotels which can be remodeled into apartment hotels without any trouble for the
of older people, and special low-interest loans should be made available to private operators for the purpose. I note that in San Francisco one such hotel is now operating and offering board and room for $100 per month. It is making money on the basis of 97-percent occupancy.
The use of multistory already existing structures with elevators and other hotel conveniences which are no longer useful as first class hotels because of the building of new luxury hotels and motels would provide more and better shelter for the money than new construction for the one and two-person family units characteristic of older people. Housing purchases
We must recognize that a very large percentage of Americans who are nominally homeowners are actually paying rent. Their houses will never be paid out, but simply traded in on some other property.
I believe there should be no discrimination against older people in home purchases if they would rather live in a home than in an apartment. With the slow and steady price rise that will come from the pressures of population increase, no risk is taken in selling a house to an older person. As a matter of fact, downpayments could quite reasonably be done away with without harm to the security of loans. This would merely require an increase in the percentage of the loans that is guaranteed.
BUT MORE PUBLIC HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS ARE NEEDED FOR ALL
Our flush of prosperity since the war has blinded us to the fact that there is still a segment-probably as large as 20 percent of the population of California which still needs Government-assisted housing. The needs of older people cannot be divorced from the needs of low-income groups in general. We have got to stop this nonsense of thinking that everyone not on relief can own a home or pay the rents required of people in a housing-short State. (As a matter of fact, if we ever have a prolonged depression again, we will learn that perhaps