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There is no question but that the use of a coordinating council is better than the absence of any machinery for coordination between the agencies in the housing field and that there is merit in getting the advice and cooperation of all the parts of the Federal Government which have a housing function to perform. At the same time, the agencies which are wholly concerned with housing should be administrative entitites. The objection which is most frequently raised that an administrator might favor the public-housing projects of the program over the aids to private enterprise or vice versa does not seem to us to carry much weight. If unbiased and capable administrators cannot be chosen for public positions of importance, then most of our governmental functions would cease to be carried on effectively. We cannot shape our structure to suit the persons whom we foresee may carry out the programs. The exact reverse must prevail.
We wish particularly to commend the sections of the bill which are intended to stimulate private enterprise in meeting the need for extensive construction of housing for the middle income groups. It would be unfortunate indeed if the revision which S. 866 makes over S. 1592 of last year were to decrease the stimulation to private enterprise in the housing field. At the same time we do not wish to oppose such changes as have been made in the light of further experience and which will meet the changed cost conditions in the housing field which prevail at the present time.
The League of Women Voters wishes to express its support of a comprehensive measure to take steps toward meeting our long-term housing shortage. S. 866
is a most creditable beginning along this line. We urge prompt favorable action.
AMERICAN HOME ECONOMICS ASSOCIATION,
Hon. CHARLES W. TOBEY,
Chairman, Senate Banking and Currency Committee,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.
DEAR SIR: The American Home Economics Association wishes herewith to record its support of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill, S. 866.
The American Home Economics Association has an active membership of 18,000 home economists—all women holding college or university degress and located in every State of the Union. These home economists, leaders in promoting the economics of the household and the home, reach and influence many thousands of citizens over the country through their work as teachers, extension agents, business women, and homemakers.
For more than 3 years the American Home Economics Association has supported legislation "to reduce the cost of housing, to put decent sanitary homes within reach of lower income groups, and to carry on research in housing." It reiterates its stand at this time. American home economists lent strong support to the Wagner-Ellender-Taft housing bill, S. 1592, of the Seventy-ninth Congress. Its statement of support, which appears on page 659, part 2, of hearings on S. 1592 before the Committee on Banking and Currency, United States Senate, gives the basis of its support and approval of S. 866.
Senator Taft, Ellender, and Wagner are to be commended for having so promptly introduced S. 866 in the Eightieth Congress and, Senator Tobey, you are to be commended for having scheduled Senate hearings on it at this early date.
The American Home Economics Association not only commends the early consideration of S. 866 but urges it speedy passage. Further, it wishes to have this statement placed in the official records of the hearings on this bill. Sincerely yours,
MILDRED HORTON, Executive Secretary.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF SETTLEMENTS, INC.,
Senator CHARLES W. TOBEY,
Senate Banking and Currency Committee,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR TOBEY: The board of directors of the National Federation of Settlements, representing 202 member agencies in 65 cities, is deeply concerned with the importance of taking immediate steps to alleviate the critical housing situation. These agencies are located in the most depressed areas of our large
cities. Families living in these areas and known to us are suffering severe overcrowding in substandard housing; veterans' families in particular have been forced to double up. Such overcrowding is inimical to healthy family and community life. Existing conditions will not be remedied with increased private construction since such families cannot possibly pay the rents required by private builders.
Therefore the board of directors endorses the Taft-Wagner-Ellender bill S. 866 and urges that it be reported out favorably. The provisions it wishes to see included are the following:
(1) Coordination of all Government housing policies and programs. (2) Substantial subsidies for public low-rent housing.
(3) Federal aid to municipalities for urban redevelopment projects and city planning.
(4) Aids to stimulate private construction of moderate and low-cost family homes and rental dwellings through yield insurance, guaranteeing loans and other means of reducing costs through lowering carrying charges.
(5) Aid for rural rehousing.
(6) Research and market analysis aimed at improving standards and lowering the cost of constructing dwellings.
I would appreciate having this statement included in the record of the hearings on S. 866.
LILLIE M. PECK, Executive Secretary.
CONGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS,
Washington 6, D. C., March 19, 1947.
Hon. CHARLES W. TOBEY,
Chairman, Senate Banking and Currency Committee,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.
DEAR SENATOR TOBEY: It is a matter of sincere regret that we are unable personally to give you the views of the Congress of Industrial Organizations on housing legislation. Word of the hearings reached us too recently to enable us to attend your hearings. We are writing to assure you that our organization is deeply concerned with the extreme gravity of the housing situation and to urge speedy enactment of comprehensive housing legislation.
The housing shortage today is a national disaster. Crowding and doubling up have grown worse during the past year. The worst sufferers are those who have had to seek new dwellings, notably war workers and veterans. Their plight is even more desperate than a year ago and the strongest measures are needed to cope with the situation.
The CIO pledges its support to the National Housing Commission Act, which is similar in most respects to the bill that passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote last year. The CIO urges your committee, however, to add the following necessary provisions in order to reflect the increased need and soaring prices: (1) to include the Douglas-Taylor bill as an amendment to S. 866 in order to fill part of the gap which high construction costs have created between public housing and private housing; (2) to provide 100-percent insurance of loans for private rental projects and mutual or cooperative projects, at interest of 3 percent, and advance loans of 1 percent to assist cooperative groups to get started; (3) to invest the administrator of housing activities with directive powers, on the ground that a strong, central agency will act economically and effectively; (4) to establish a technical director for housing with authority to use funds, previously appropriated for housing, to finance the pioneer developmental and experimental work on factory-built housing in order to reduce costs; and (5) to provide that development funds and 100-percent loans be available to new producers of factorybuilt housing in order to speed up the modernization of the building industry. These improvements in S. 866, we are confident, will contribute decisively to reducing housing costs and will hasten the fulfillment of the national goal of a decent home for every family in a suitable environment.
We again urge prompt and courageous action to solve the Nation's foremost social and economic problem.
President, Congress of Industrial Organizations.
R. J. THOMAS,
Chairman, CIO Housing Committee.
STATEMENT OF LESLIE PERRY, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, with more than 1,497 branches, college chapters, and youth councils, comprised of 550,000 paid members, is glad to have an opportunity to express its views on S. 866, the National Housing Commission Act. There is an urgent need to meet the critical housing shortage which Americans of all races, creeds, and colors face today. We want, however, to address ourselves primarily to the needs of Negro Americans. Negroes make up 20 percent of the population of the city of Baltimore but they are crowded into less than 2 percent of the living space. In Chicago the population density of the Negro district is 90,000 per square mile. A single block in Harlem has 3,871 persons. "At a comparable concentration," concluded the Architectural Forum, "the whole United States could be housed in half of New York City."
It can be safely said that in every city in the United States where the Negro constitutes a sizable part of the population he has been relegated to the slums and tenements. These blighted areas, which have most of the marks of Old World ghettos, in America are known as "black belts." Throughout the years, because of artificially induced housing shortages for occupancy by Negro tenants or homes for sale to Negro buyers, colored families have had to double up. Today, as a result of large in-migrations during the war coupled with the cessation of practically all residential building, the situation has become worse. It is now necessary for several Negro families to live in quarters built to accommodate one. American families, and especially the families of Negro Americans, want homes. They want houses built in quantity and price and quality to meet their urgent needs.
The committee has under consideration S. 866. We have studied this measure carefully. It is a source of grave concern to us that this bill-laudable in many ways-wholly fails to incorporate in it any language or provision which would assure that if it is enacted into law that Negroes will be able to participate in the program equitably and without segregation.
This association testified before the Senate Banking and Currency Committee on a similar measure in the Seventy-ninth Congress. At that time we submitted evidence to the committee showing the character and extent of restrictions placed on Negro tenants and purchasers by private individuals and an agency of the Federal Government itself. The restrictions to which I refer are those contained in deeds to real property generally referred to as "restrictive covenants." We pointed out that the Federal Housing Administration has played an active part in placing restraints on the rights of Negro citizens to rent and buy property wherever they had the money to do so.
These restrictions are growing. In Chicago, for example, today 80 percent of deeds to residential property contain clauses restricting sale or occupancy to white persons. Any legislation which presumes to establish a national housing policy; which seeks to establish a long-range housing and urban redevelopment program that will determine community living patterns for the next hundred years, must take these undemocratic practices into account and seek to correct them. In our judgment, to enact legislation such as is proposed by S. 866 without adequate provisions to safeguard the rights of occupancy and ownership of members of minority racial and religious groups, without discrimination or segregation, would be a step backward and an open invitation to perpetuate and extend race discrimination.
Title I of the bill "Declaration of National Housing Policy" should make it clear that the Congress disapproves of all land agreements which restrict ownership or occupancy on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. We, therefore, propose that this section of the bill be amended as follows:
"The Congress hereby declares that all citizens of the United States shall have the same right, in every State and Territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, occupy, and convey real property." Title VIII of the bill deals with urban redevelopment and provides Federal loans to assist the States and local communities to buy slum lands for the purpose of clearance and redevelopment. This section should be amended. Thousands of Negro families now live in these slums. We believe that American citizens who have had their homes taken away and razed should be given first priority on any new homes erected on the sites if they have the financial ability to rent or buy the same. We therefore propose that the bill be amended at line 3, page 56, following the words "this title"; to provide that:
"(3) preference in the selection of tenants for dwelling units built in the project area be given to families displaced therefrom because of clearance and redevelopment activity, who desire to live in such dwelling units and who will be able to pay rents or prices charged other families or comparable dwelling units built as part of the same redevelopment."
This amendment will necessitate the purely formal change at what is now line 4 from (3) to "(4)".
S. 866 also authorizes the Administrator of the National Housing Commission to grant investment insurance on rental housing projects designed to meet the needs of persons of moderate income. This is an important feature of this proposed legislation. However, we do not feel that a project which arbitrarily excludes on the basis of race or color should be eligible for Federal insurance. We, therefore, propose that the following amendment be inserted at line 20 on page 37 by striking the period following the word "pay" and adding: "; (4) Such project shall meet the housing needs, as reflected by housing-market analysis, of all economic and racial groups eligible to participate in the program; the Administrator shall not approve local projects which exclude any such group; he shall encourage the development of projects which assure equitable participating of all such groups."
Finally, we urge that the number of low-rent housing units to be constructed under title IX of the bill be increased to a minimum of at least 250,000 annually. With the adoption by this committee and the Congress of the amendments here proposed we believe that the goal expressed in S. 866 of "a decent home and suitable living environment for every American family" would be possible of achievement.
Senator CHARLES TOBEY,
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 19, 1947.
Chairman, Banking and Currency Committee,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.
DEAR SENATOR TOBY: In connection with hearings on S. 866, the general housing bill, a number of consumer organizations asked me to present a statement of their support to your committee.
I understand, however, that the committee desires to keep the hearings short and that the list of proponents to appear for the bill is long. In deference to the committee's desires, therefore, I have advised the organizations to file their several statements, and I am withdrawing my request to be heard on their behalf.
May I request the inclusion of this letter in the record in order to indicate the fact that groups concerned with the interests of people as consumers are solidly behind legislation to assure adequate housing for middle- and lower-income families through private and public means.
CAROLINE F. WARE.
PORTLAND HOME BUILDERS' ASSOCIATION, INC.,
THE BANKING AND CURRENCY COMMITTEE, United States Senate, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: The Portland Home Builders Association, Inc., wishes to register its determined opposition to the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill, now before your body, for the following reasons:
1. It will regiment the home-building industry at a time when controls are lifted from other industries.
2. It establishes another bureau when the Nation by its vote gave a mandate to Congress to eliminate bureaucracy.
3. It gives practically unlimited control and power to the proposed National Housing Administrator.
4. Adds greatly to the national debt.
5. Establishes a policy of patronage, of taking from the industrious to give to the indolent.
6. Creates dependency on Government by a great segment of our citizens. 7. Destroys incentive for private industry.
8. Creates thousands of little bureaucracies in cities and rural districts.
9. It has potentialities for local political as well as national czardoms.
10. It is socialistic in concept and operation.
11. We have a warning in England's housing debacle today and this is a long step along that same road.
12. A bureau that is set up for 45 years means bureaucrcy in perpetuity. 13. The bill puts the Government in competition with private industry as to materials, labor supply, and market.
14. If this bill should pass, it would mean that thousands of small builders would be forced out of business.
This letter represents the sentiments of each and every member of our association.
We respectfully urge that you refuse to approve this bill as a needless system of controls against the home-building industry that has been hampered and fettered by bureaucratic orders, regulations, and rules beyond any other industry in the country, an industry that always has met and will meet the housing needs of the Nation if given full and free opportunity. The W-E-T bill ̧will destroy that full and free opportunity.
PORTLAND HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION, INC.,
S. 866, section 502.
ROBERT HILL, Esq.,
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE SAVINGS,
BUILDING AND LOAN SUPERVISORS,
Secretary, Committee on Banking and Currency,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C.
DEAR MR. HILL: The National Association of State Savings, Building and Loan Supervisors, representing such officials in 38 States and the Territory of Hawaii, will appreciate it if you will bring this letter before the hearings which, we understand, are now being held on S. 866. This association wishes to protest against the language of section 502 which would make conversion of Federal savings and loan associations to State charters conditional upon the approval of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board or the Federal Home Loan Bank Administration and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation. Shortly after it came into being the Federal Home Loan Bank Administration urged upon the State governments the enactment of legislation to permit the conversion of State chartered associations to Federal charters. Most of the States complied and have made it possible for such institutions freely and without the consent of the State supervisory authorities to accomplish such conversions. It is only equitable that Federal associations should be equally free to convert to State charter without the consent of the Federal supervisory authorities.
State supervisors and the Federal Home Loan Bank Administration are equally zealous in protecting the safety of shareholders' funds. They are as safe under one system of supervision as they are under the other. An individual association should have the power to decide freely under which system it wishes to be chartered. To take any other position would repudiate the dual banking system to the benefits of which both State and Federal officials have often testified.
It should be remembered that the persons who place their savings with a savings and loan association, whether Federal or State chartered, own that association and have a voice in its policies. No conversion in either direction can take place until all shareholders have been given an opportunity to vote on the proposal and then only if the majority of those who, after notification, choose to vote on the question so decide. To permit the nullification of this free choice by the members of an association by the action of any State or Federal Government body would be repressive and a blow to free enterprise. Only in the event that shares of a Federal savings and loan association are held by the Secretary of the Treasury or the Home Owners' Loan Corporation should its conversion to State charter be subject to the approval of the Federal Home Loan Bank Administration.