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Mr. MASLEN. I cannot answer the question specifically, but I know that that question came up in New York, and the feeling was that it would not be advisable to have more than around 20 to 25 percent of the families in these public developments who were on relief.
Mr. BANTA. Why not? Our public-assistance families are unquestionably our poorest families, are they not?
Mr. MASLEN. Well, I did not agree with their position, Mr. Banta. I think there should be no restriction other than income, as to eligibility. But they did have a point. They felt that-and there is some validity to it-that unfortunately a recipient of public assistance, if he lives next door to another recipient of public assistance, or with other families, will naturally talk about his affairs and there develops a certain atmosphere, a poorhouse atmosphere. It may develop. And that is a danger they wanted to avoid. That is the reason for requir ing that only a certain percentage of the development be occupied by those families.
Mr. BANTA. I wonder if it would be less of a poorhouse attitude than to leave them in what we call slums.
Mr. MASLEN. I am certain they are not thinking so much of the physical situation as the psychological situation, such as having a lot of people of the same character. Just the same as in the case of housing for paraplegics. It would seem that in our American society it is much healthier to have a heterogeneous scattering of all of our different income groups, and so forth. That is why in public housing the tendency is to move towards trying to get an integration of private and public dwellings, and different rent levels, in the same community. Mr. BANTA. And requiring a different rent from a person who has a different economic status?
Mr. MASLEN. That is right; that is quite an accepted principle.
Mr. BANTA. Which means, of course, that if he is living in public housing he is obtaining public assistance. Why would we not have even a larger element of people developing poorhouse attitudes if we provide public houses for them?
Mr. MASLEN. Your question is a little bit involved. I would like to answer it a part at a time. It seems to me that the philosophy of graded rents, whereby the rent is adjusted according to the income and and the size of the family, is a way of assuring that the subsidy which is provided from the public treasury is going to the families who need it most. If you do not do that, it means that the small family, for instance, will perhaps be enjoying a rental out of proportion, whereas the larger family with perhaps a smaller income would have to be paying a higher rental.
Mr. BANTA. Well, that is true according to the philosophy of those who advocate public housing. But here is the philosophy that you should not put all the poorest people that you have in these good public housing units, because you might develop a poorhouse attitude, or such a mental attitude. But those whom we do put there, we are subsidizing. Why would not the same argument hold true, that putting lowincome people in public housing units would develop in their minds the poorhouse attitude, if they are living on public property and subsidized?
Mr. MASLEN. Well, I think the argument is somewhat overdone, because in an era of 60,000,000 jobs, living in this period of postwar prosperity, the proportion of families on relief is so small, and those who would qualify for the different size apartments
Mr. BANTA. You say the portion that is on relief is so small?
Mr. BANTA. Have the public assistance roles declined substantially during the last 2 or 3 years?
Mr. MASLEN. No; I think they have increased during the last 2 or 3 years, because of the boys coming back from overseas, and the wives' allowances being reduced.
Mr. BANTA. Then, the proportion is not very small.
Mr. MASLEN. No. I am thinking in terms of depression years when the equivalent of the whole population of Buffalo was on relief in New York City. In that situation it is conceivable that you would have a dense population of families on relief in a public housing development. This program is a slum-clearance program, basically, as I understand it, and what I am saying is that the percentage of people living in the slum areas who are today on relief, as compared with those that were in the depression years, is so small that I do not think it is a practical problem.
Mr. BANTA. I think you should read the bill, because there is nothing in this bill that provides for slum clearance at the present time. There would be no demolition provided until 1950. No demolition.
Mr. MASLEN. Well, I might call your attention to page 89, line 4, which I found about 3 o'clock this morning in preparing to come down here, and it very specifically requires elimination of slum dwellings, equal in number to the dwellings that the public housing agency would
Mr. BANTA. Well, at some time. Not at the same time when the new buildings are erected, necessarily. At some time it would require that. Mr. MASLEN. As a practical proposition
Mr. BANTA. The question is when and how strong that requirement is. But that is beside the question that I have in mind. You have some tenants who are living in these units, some public assistance tenants, and you propose to put more in there, some percentage of them. Would it not be better and even less costly, if persons who are unable to pay rent were provided with public assistance grants to pay the rent, just as you provide here? If 10 percent of these people in the public housing units are receviing assistance after a social study has been made by a public welfare agency, and they receive a grant which is sufficient in amount to enable them to pay the rent which the housing authority must charge in these developments, then, they are subsidized by still another agency of the Government, further, along with all the others, by another administrative cost, by another bureau. Would it not be better if we provided for people who are unable to pay the rent an outright grant? And not have the expense and burden of another agency to be doing a piecemeal job, with still another doing a piecemeal job, and, of course, I do not know how many others?
Mr. MASLEN. Well, Mr. Banta, I can only refer you to Senator Taft's comments on that. I think you are referring to the rent certificate plan. He felt that that would be such an expensive program to administer, and would require such a tremendous addition to the welfare administration
Mr. BANTA. The social worker does it all the time, for people who receive public assistance, whether they are living in publicly owned projects or privately owned projects. They make up their budget for them, once every year or once every 6 months, and included in their budget is an amount sufficient to pay the rent, and they give them a check for it. Even under the terms of the Social Security law they are required to give them enough to meet costs of rent, food, clothing, and so forth. And they take that into consideration in the privately owned properties, if they are living in privately owned properties, just as when they are living in the publicly owned projects.
Mr. MASLEN. In the first place, in many communities, the relief administration allows enough rent so that the family can move into a public development, and the fact that the family has been investigated by the welfare agency obviously simplifies the problem of Public Housing Administration.
In the second place, I think the major problem in connection with that suggestion is that the communities simply do not have proper housing into which those families can move, and that it is not merely a problem of the individual house, it is a problem of neighborhood. Of course, before the war this problem was much more high lighted, when many American communities, the big cities, were just rotting at the core, and were on the verge of bankruptcy. There is testimony to that effect. The war came along and obscured that financial problem for the time being, but nevertheless you do have this physical and financial problem, which this bill attempts to solve by providing for the physical reconstruction of the total community in those sections that are blighted and are slums.
Mr. BANTA. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Maslen.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Cook. Mrs. Stanley G. Cook is legislative chairman, National Congress of Parents and Teachers.
Mrs. Cook, we are very happy to have you proceed.
Mrs. Cook. My name is Mrs. Stanley Cook of Indian Head, Md. STATEMENT OF MRS. STANLEY G. COOK, LEGISLATION CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS
Mrs. Cook. Chairman Wolcott and Members of the House Banking and Currency Committee:
I wish to submit this statement on behalf of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, an organization of 4,486,855 men and women. I might say that one-third of that number is composed of men, so we are not an exclusively women's organization. We are in every State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii.
Our organization has five objects which are to be found in its bylaws and the bylaws of every local unit in its membership. They are: To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, church, and community; to raise the standards of home life; to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth; to bring the home and school into closer relationship, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the training of the child; and to develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for every child the highest advantages in physical, mental, social and spiritual education.
You will note in these objects that the National Congress of Parents and Teachers considers the home the first in the four basic influences in the life of the child. Because this is true, the second object seeks to raise the standards of home life so that in cooperation of educators and the general public, through the agencies of school, community, and church, the child may obtain the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual development.
You will note also, that one of these objects is to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
In accordance with these objectives, as a national organization, we are giving active support to legislation which will help remedy the present serious housing shortage, eliminate slum areas, and provide an opportunity for every American family to have a decent home.
While we realize that fine houses do not always make fine homes, we do recognize the fact that houses which do not furnish adequate provisions for good health, a decent amount of privacy, and recreational facilities are breeding grounds for crime and juvenile delinquency. Unless Congress acts in the near future to relieve the present situation of acute housing shortage, there will be an inevitable increase in the toll from disease, delinquency, and crime which will not only add to the burden of our taxpayers but will undermine the strength of our Nation.
Although the war and the more rapid increase in our population these past 2 years has added to the present critical shortage in housing, we know, too, that the predicament is due to a lack of coordinated planning for private and public housing on a national scale over a period of years. Consequently, we feel that the Government should establish a consistent housing policy which will coordinate the agencies relating to housing and that they should improve existing statutory tools to the end that with maximum reliance on private enterprise and local initiative the housing needs of the entire Nation may be solved.
In the past 2 years, the veterans emergency housing program has relieved the situation to a very small degree, but we find that some of this housing is only temporary and the most of it is out of the reach of the average income family.
In the past, as in the present, it is the great mass of our citizenry who come within the middle-income groups which have suffered most from this lack of adequate and decent housing. It is from these homes that the greatest numbers of our fighting forces have come; they have supplied the war-workers in civilian life; in aggregate, their taxes as well as their savings bonds have been the financial mainstay of our treasury; they are truly the backbone of our Nation.
Many of these families have saved enough money to start buying homes if contracts are long enough and flexible enough to make them feel secure in their ability to hold them. Legislation should be passed with provisions making the initial payment easier, lessening the monthly financial charge and extending the period for repayment of the loan.
Repayment of loans through the Farm Credit Administration on long-term contract demonstrate the feasibilty of this type of loan. Anyone familiar with the rehabilitation of former tenant farmers and share croppers who have become home owners and respected citizens of the communities in which they live, through the Farm Security
Program, knows that such programs will and do work. This contributes to the upbuilding of any community and helps to stabilize our population.
Of special concern are the families in the lowest-income group which cannot afford to buy or rent decent housing provided by private enterprise. Left to their own resources they are doomed to live in blighted areas. Local interest in their problems has led to urban redevelopment laws in some States. However, we find that most of these have failed because the cities and towns have been unable to carry out their plans because of financial losses. It is apparent that cities and towns will need some Federal subsidy to clear these slums and redevelop their blighted areas.
These low-income families are found on farms and in rural areas, also. No comprehensive housing program should neglect the rural areas. It should be noted that rural farmhouses in general are inferior and less adequate than those of urban dwellers. Special loans or grants should be made to farm families to enable them to own standard homes and to provide decent housing for those working on farms, the loan or grant depending upon the income of the farmer.
The only legislation pending today which holds hope for the millions of families which need decent homes in the Taft-Wagner-Ellender bill. Our organization is supporting this bill, S. 866, as it did S. 1592, because we feel that in the provisions of this bill all groups are cared for; those who rent as well as those who are prospective home owners. Also, it gives private enterprise the means whereby it can more easily exceed the best record in home building which it has had in the past. This bill places responsibility on the Federal Government for public housing, especially slum clearance. This is a responsibility which the Federal Government will have to assume if every family in this nation is to have the opportunity to rent or own a decent home.
Homes are the foundation stone of a nation; the White House Conference on Children in a Democracy in 1940 called them the "Threshold of Democracy." The best way to preserve our Democracy is to preserve the home as an institution. However, one must first have a home before he has the urge to preserve it. A comprehensive housing program such as that proposed in the General Housing Act should be passed through this session of Congress and it will receive the wholehearted support of our members throughout this Nation. The CHAIRMAN. Are there questions of Mrs. Cook!
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Mrs. Cook, do you believe that politically owned housing is the threshold of democracy?
Mrs. Cook. You say "politically owned". Do you mean public housing?
Mr. SMITH. That is the same thing.
Mrs. Cook. Whether it is the threshold of democracy?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mrs. Cook. It would be in some income groups, because it would provide the opportunity for some to have a decent home who would not otherwise have a home which we would consider adequate.
Mr. SMITH. That makes public housing the threshold of democracy? Mrs. Cook. No; I did not say that in my statement, sir. I said that the home is considered the threshold of democracy.