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and who can pay no more, will be taken care of by local relief agencies; some agency will pay the difference between the $15 a month and the $50 a month.
Senator CAIN. Or to put it another way, they will keep on paying the $10, $15, or $17 as they have been paying it before.
Senator TAFT. There is a hitch. The moment a fellow has to build a house, depending upon relief, he is getting relief to pay his house, he will not build the house. That is the point I have. We will not have any more new houses. You cannot sell them to anybody.
Mr. DECKMAN. You miss the point that I make. We are housing the same kind of people, and public housing that has been built in the last couple of years is renting as high as $52 a month for their so-called economic rent. They only write down a very small part of it, as I brought out in my testimony. They do not have more than 30 percent of the people that they write down the rents for. These public houses are not written down across the board to take care of large sums. These people are tenants that are selected that can pay.
Senator CAIN. About 3 to 1, is it not?
Mr. DECKMAN. Exactly.
Senator CAIN. On the average, one fellow who ought to be living in there against three who ought to be living somewhere else.
Mr. DECKMAN. That is right. The other three are paying as high as what I propose.
Senator TAFT. I know that is entirely a war condition that has nothing to do with this bill. It is forbidden in this bill, and it is not a legitimate argument before this committee. That is my point.
Mr. VINTON. It is one person in five living in these that are over the limits for continued occupancy.
Senator CAIN. I know, but your limits have rather consistently gone up in the last couple of years.
Mr. VINTON. They are still very low. The average income of families now living in public housing in 1945, the average of all of the families living in public housing was only $1,566 a year.
Senator CAIN. În the over-all national total.
Mr. VINTON. Yes.
Senator CAIN. That is lower than I personally would have thought. Mr. DECKMAN. Yes.
Senator SPARKMAN. May I ask a question on this while we are talking about it?
Several days ago I had a letter from someone down in Birmingham discussing the public housing project there, and they gave a list of high-salaried people who were living there. I remember some of the salaries ran up as high as $5,800.
Someone in testifying here, I believe it was Mr. Nelson, called my attention to the fact that there were 120 Government employees living in that housing project.
I wonder if you have any information on that?
Mr. VINTON. We have looked into that. They are low-paid city workers, such as street sweepers, some mail carriers that the Federal Government does not pay quite enough to make both ends meet, and other low-income people. Occasionally there are, Senator, some families whose incomes have risen substantially during the war, families who are in, who entered with one worker, and another person has be
come of age and started working, so that there are sporadic examples certainly of families that have far too high incomes, but the FPHA is just about to issue a very drastic order. We expect to have it out in a few days, which is going to require the matter of mandatory policy that the local authorities start the systematic removal of all families who are over the established income limits.
They are going to be made to start with the highest families and to remove a minimum of 5 percent a month, whether or not they can find other places. Before we get done we are going to have a good deal of trouble, because we are going to forcibly evict families whether or not they can find other dwellings when they come over the limits established.
The CHAIRMAN. You will have considerable headaches.
Mr. SPARKMAN. We are going to complain to you for doing that. Mr. VINTON. Yes; that is true. The number of families that are over the income limits now is 23 percent, as I said, and we are going to get rid of those families. We are going to get rid of them as a matter of living up to the contractual relations of the local authorities to the FPHA.
Senator BRICKER. Do you think you are relieving human suffering and, therefore, rendering a public service by doing that?
Mr. VINTON. We are damned if we do and damned if we do not. If we do not live up to the act, we are said to be violating the express intent of the Congress; the express intent of the Congress is that these dwellings are reserved for families of low income. We are going to do everything possible to help them find other dwellings. We are starting at the families that have the highest income now, and it is to be noted that any time a family of high income goes out, at some distress to them, a family of low income who needs the housing very much more comes in, so, in balance, I think we are promoting social welfare.
Senator MCCARTHY. You made the statement a short time ago that you could see no relationship between slum clearance and low-cost rental housing. Am I correct in that?
Mr. DECKMAN. That is true. Many of these slum areas are in busi
Senator MCCARTHY. Let me ask you this: I am wondering if we agree on this. If you destroy the rental units—and when you destroy a slum area you do that-if you destroy $10 and $12 a month rental units, those people have to go somewhere, do they not? They have to go some place where they can find new rental units at $10 or $15 a month. That means they go to another slum area or create another
Mr. DECKMAN. No.
Senator MCCARTHY. Unless you subsidize building, privately or publicly, as is proposed here, or that you make up the difference by relief. That follows, does it not?
Mr. DECKMAN. You do not send them some place else to make another slum if you have this housing code.
Senator MCCARTHY. Let us say that we have that. allow the creation of $10 and $15 a month rental units. he go then, is my question.
It does not
Mr. DECKMAN. He becomes, if the cannot pay, under the present system, if housing is $20-public welfare will take care of him, which they do now.
Senator MCCARTHY. He goes on relief, you mean.
Mr. DECKMAN. These people admit that they are building for lowincome-group people who can pay rents, and when you get down to $10, and below, you are getting into people who cannot pay anything.
The thing that you have to visualize is that when we pass the housing code in every city we do not tear down a lot of these slums. We just make the owner remodel the building he has and fix it up.
Senator TAFT. He cannot afford to do that without raising the rent. Mr. DECKMAN. That is true. But at the same time this is not quite as ridiculous as it might seem. If you are pouring housing in at the top, you are creating competition, and that will drive it down. Here is a house that competition drove down to $2,990.
Senator TAFT. That was before the war, and the result is that nobody built any more houses. No; just before the war they were well off. They were practically building just before the war
Mr. DECKMAN. We built 600,000 houses in 1941.
Senator TAFT. That was after the war. Prices began to go up again. In 1939 you did not build any.
The CHAIRMAN. What does that house sell for today?
Mr. DECKMAN. That brought about $5,000 to $5,500, which was built and sold for $2,990. The four-room house has a central heating plant, and I do not take it lightly that the private builders are constantly criticized for not doing it.
Senator TAFT. I have not criticized any private builder. I am criticizing the economic system of the United States that has resulted for 150 years in this pass-me-down thing into slums, and will go on doing it exactly unless the cost of housing comes down. That is not the fault of the builders. I am not blaming them.
Mr. DECKMAN. We are going into slums. Nobody will accept my theory of a housing code to clear up these, except in your own bill you have appropriations made available for the remodeling of old houses for low-income groups. Why cannot private enterprise do that very thing; and when you get down to the point
Senator TAFT. Only because it requires subsidy at the end to do it. That is the only reason.
Mr. DECKMAN. How about this cost of 300 percent, total cost, against a cost of
Senator TAFT. Three hundred percent of what total cost?
Senator TAFT. I object to that whole method of calculating.
Mr. DECKMAN. That is what it will cost if this plan of yours goes into effect.
Senator MCCARTHY. I do not like subsidies any more than you do. Let us assume that we pass all of the building codes that we want to. Mr. DECKMAN. This is housing building.
Senator MCCARTHY. Let us assume that we pass all of the housing code that you suggest. That will eliminate all of the slum areas. How do we take care of the man who cannot afford to pay the rent
for the type of buildings that your housing code will require to be built?
Mr. DECKMAN. How will you take care of the other 6,000,000, aside from the 500,000 that this bill provides for, at a cost of $7,000,000,000? How will you take care of them? Public welfare is going to take care of them unless you attempt to build enough to take care of the whole group, because when you do that you throw us into a state where the Government is taking off of the tax rolls a third of the property, and the burden becomes ever greater, and you are staying in deficit financing, unless this country goes completely broke.
Senator MCCARTHY. In effect, you say this: You say that we must in some way take care of the man who cannot afford to pay the rent of the buildings which you propose that private enterprise build, except that you say we will not do it by means of this bill. We will do it through relief channels. That will take the same tax money, but we will have it taken care of by relief.
Mr. DECKMAN. What we propose here is that local public welfare which is now in existence, and has been in existence for 50 years, has taken care of these people, will continue to take care of them, and we will not take off of the local tax rolls public housing, and we will create more tax income by any new buildings we build that will be coming in, and we will take the old houses and make them meet minimum requirements which will still be good used housing at low rents, and that is the way we will provide that, and when we cannot provide it, I mean when people cannot pay those rents for good used housing, that are maintained under the code, then public welfare will have to do it, just as it is now, and just as it will have to do for the other 52 million people that are going to be left out under this bill which is a tremendous cost.
If you multiply that on through by 12 times, you will have a staggering sum that is continually building up, and we cannot afford it. If we take a third of the property of this country off the tax rolls, we are going to go broke, and you gentlemen are having enough trouble now finding the solution to the local finance picture. If you add these burdens on and then fill in medicine and education and everything else on top of it, and flood control and all of that, we cannot afford it.
This is going to take away the very foundation that your money is coming from for all of your other parts. It will follow, the same as day follows night, because in 1937, a nact was passed, and they got $800,000,000 set up with the subsidy lined up. In 1939 they came back and wanted more money. And Dr. Frederick C. Smith, of Ohio, Representative Smith who happens to have the facts, Senator, that explained this whole matter, from that it was stopped at that time.
Here they are back again now wanting another large slice of it to do a job that will never be done until we wreck our economy.
Senator TAFT. I do not agree with your theory that you have to do that whole job or anything of the sort. You have this theory that you pass down second-hand housing, and the rent is less than for first hand. It ought not to rent for much less if you keep it in good condition. It should rent for about the same. Obviously it is just as good unless deteriorated by reason of the neighborhood and condition of the property.
You pass that on down. I agree that works on to a certain extent, but up to the date at the bottom there has been a slum area, and you can prohibit that. The only effect is that those fellows have no place
I do not think that by promising that probably you will give them relief for the next 20 years anybody will build houses for those people. It is not sufficient basis to get them built.
So that you go on having these slums. And the reasons that codes are not enforced are because the people know that if they fully enforced them, they would force these people on the street.
Mr. DECKMAN. At the present time?
Senator TAFT. At the present time and always and for the last and for the next 100 years.
Mr. DECKMAN. It has not been tried except in recent years. Indianapolis has a local program under way. Milwaukee has cleared up about 6,000 housing units by this program, and no Federal aid there.
Senator TAFT. I have no cbjection to their doing it here. In fact, we put authority in here to go ahead along the lines you proposed, and that may help some. It will enable you to build houses in that neighborhood but it will not enable you to build them any cheaper than you are building them now.
Mr. DECKMAN. We have tried the United States Housing Act for 10 years. My point is that we should trip a private-enterprise
Senator TAFT. We have tried that for 100 years.
Mr. DECKMAN. You have never given them the tools.
Senator TAFT. We have given all of the tools.
Mr. DECKMAN. There have never been long-term amortization, low interest rates, or land made available under local slum clearance. None of that has been made available in this program.
Senator TAFT. They have had free land everywhere that they could buy, more desirable land than this slum area that will be torn down and resold. They have not been handicapped by the inability to buy land.
Mr. DECKMAN. That is an answer that amazes me because we had to fight this bill all the way through Congress to get that very solution to it, which we now have here in Washington, outlined as I have said, except that we are now preparing a housing code to follow up as the housing becomes available in the top brackets, to clear up this situation.
Senator TAFT. It does not clear it up because you cannot build a house for more than half of the people of the United States, and the other houses, if they are in decent condition, ought to rent for and have about the same value as the new houses. So that it just cannot be done economically. It is not a question of anybody's bad will or unwillingness or anything else.
Senator FULBRIGHT. If that is true, the only difference is that you want to pay it in in subsidy in housing, and he wants to do it through the welfare, and the total cost will be the same.
Senator TAFT. Through welfare it will be much greater if you want to do it that way.