Page images


$160,600,000 a year. Appropriations would be made each year in the amounts actually required, subject to these maximum limitations. Appropriations would in no event, however, continue for more than 45 years.

Annual contributions are authorized for the various programs in the following maximum amounts:

[blocks in formation]

Most of the opposition is centered on the low-rent housing program. The annual contributions for this program àre, along with local contributions, needed in order to achieve the basic purpose of the program-i. e., to bring the rents actually charged within the financial reach of low-income families coming from the slums.

To multiply the maximum annual contribution allowable under S. 866 by 45 years and present the resultant total as the cost to the Federal Government of the low-rent housing program is grossly misleading for a number of reasons.

1. In the first place, it is impossible to forecast what the annual contributions will actually amount to in the future. Under the United States Housing Act, annual contributions actually made have never reached the maximum allowable under the statute. In fact, they have varied from a high of 88.2 percent of the allowable maximum in 1941 to a low of 51.2 percent in 1945. While the latter percentage reflects the high-income levels prevalent through the war years and is thus not truly representative, these figures do serve to illustrate the impossibility of computing actual costs on the basis of permissible maximum contributions over a long-term period. Moreover, the annual contributions for the reduction of rent may not continue for the full 45 ye ys. Some local housing authorities have already been able, through favorablevate financing, to substantially reduce the amortization period of their bonds, which in turn shortens the period during which contributions are required.

2. The total of the annual contributions over 45 years does not represent the "cost of the housing" to be provided under the bill. It is true that the maximum amount of these contributions closely approximates the amount required each year for amortization and interest payments on the capital cost of the housing. In each year, however, the maximum amount is reduced by the amount of any sums realized from project rents after payment of necessary project expenses. No one would call a $5,000 house a $9,350 house just because the $5,000 cost, if amortized over 32 years with 42 percent interest, will eventually involve payments totaling $9,350 for principal and interest. Yet, this is substantially what the opponents of S. 866 are doing when they identify the total amount of maximum annual contributions over a 45-year period as the "cost of the housing" that would be provided by the bill.

3. Annual contributions serve to implement a pay-as-you-go policy under which subsidies are paid each year for the general welfare benefits received during that yea. They should no more be totaled up in arriving at the cost of the program than are the annual Federal expenditures for other continuing programs, such as annual agricultural benefits, aid to highways, educational subsidies, or socialsecurity costs. The mere fact that low-rent housing contributions are limited to 45 years is no justification for multitplying the annual cost by 45 and representing this total as though it were a burden on our present economy. The public housing program, like other similar programs, is paid for on a year-by-year basis, the taxpayers in each year meeting the costs of the assistance given to lowincome families in that year.

The cost and justification of the low-rent housing program must be measured in terms of its benefits. Decent housing instead of slums means less crime, less juvenile delinquency, lower costs for police and fire protection; it also means etter health, lower death rates, and lower costs of medical care. Slums cannot se cleared and slum dwellers rehoused on a self-liquidating basis. Federal annual contributions are essential if the job is to be done. The simple fact is that we cannot afford to keep the slums because they are too costly both in terms of human suffering and in terms of dollars and cents.

99279-47- -41


Los Angeles 3, Calif., April 14, 1947.

Chairman, Senate Banking and Currency Committee,

Senate Office Building, Washington 25, D. C.

DEAR SENATOR TOBEY: AS Los Angeles is one of the Nation's areas experiencing a severe housing shortage, this committee feels very strongly about the passage of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill.

The Government program, such as would be set up by the passage of this bill, the Los Angeles CIO unions feel is essentiol to even a partial solution of our housing shortage. We are finding daily examples in this city of the blight which the housing shortage is setting down on the people. Juvenile delinquency, broken homes, the spreading of contagious diseases, and even many cases of mental derangement all stemming from the housing shortage.

War workers and veterans alike cannot find places to live, and in tens of thousands of cases the makeshift housing which they are forced to use does not meet the lowest minimum requirements for health and decency.

Veterans remember most keenly the way in which their Government organized emergency production machinery to produce for war. They feel that they have a right to expect that the Government take responsibility for the housing of the Nation's citizens.

We strongly urge the passage of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill even though the bill should be strengthened instead of being threatened by amendments to further weaken and limit a national housing program.

Sincerely yours,

JAMES H. BURFORD, Director, Political Action.

cc: Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas J. O'Dwyer.

Newport, R. I., April 17, 1947.


Chairman of Banking and Currency Committee,

United States Senate, Washington, D. C.

DEAR SENATOR TOBEY: At a meeting of the executive committee of the Newport Council of Social Agencies held on Tuesday, April 15, the following motion was passed:

"It was moved and seconded that a letter be sent to the chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee both in the Senate and House of Representatives and to Rhode Island Senators and Congressmen stating that the executive committee of the Newport Council of Social Agencies approves and endorses bill S. 866, and is recommending its approval by the Newport Council of Social Agencies." Sincerely,


Secretary, Executive Committee, Council of Social Agencies.

Newark 3, N. J., April 17, 1947.


House of Senate, Washington, D. Ơ.

DEAR SIR: We are enclosing herewith resolution on S. 866, the National Housing Commission bill, and wish to advise that same was endorsed by this district council at our meeting held on April 3, 1947.

We, therefore, ask that you kindly use your good office to support and vote in favor of this bill.

Sincerely yours,

JOHN J. WALSECK, Secretary-Treasurer.


Whereas the long-standing problem of inadequate housing is now seriously aggravated by the increasing housing shortage; and

Whereas the veterans are the first victims of this housing shortage; and Whereas there seems to be no immediate prospect of any large-scale building program to alleviate this situation; and

Whereas the National Housing Commission bill offers a practical plan for building a substantial number of homes for low- and middle-income families while at the same time providing jobs that will help the whole economy: Therefore be it

Resolved, That the Essex Trades Council of New Jersey urges the speedy passage by Congress of this legislation; and be it further

Resolved, That affiliated organizations join in urging the speedy passage of this legislation.

Duluth, Minn., April 16, 1947.


Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.

DEAR SENATOR: There is enclosed for your consideration a resolution passed by members of the Duluth Homestead Association, Duluth, Minn., at their quarterly membership meeting, held April 14, 1947.

We, as a group, are particularly interested in the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill, S. 866.

This community is in need of additional housing, especially for the low-income group, which includes a lot of ex-GI's.

This housing is needed now.

It is the sincere desire of the members of the Duluth Homestead Association that favorable action be taken in the passage of the above bill.

Sincerely yours,



Whereas there has been a failure to build homes in the United States in sufficient numbers for the past 20 years to take care of the increasing population and obsolescence; and

Whereas because of this failure to build enough homes there is now a need to build 3,195,000 homes (as estimated by the National Housing Agency); and Whereas there is now a bill before the Senate known as the Wagner-EllenderTaft bill, S. 866, and a companion measure in the House, H. R. 2523, which proposes to establish a national housing policy, and provide for its execution: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Duluth Homestead Association, Duluth, Minn., in quarterly meeting assembled, on April 14, 1947, request the passage of the above housing bill; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be sent to Senator Charles W. Tobey, chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, and Congressman Jesse Wolcott, chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee. Adopted April 14, 1947.


IVER A. NELSEN. Secretary.



CHICAGO BRANCH, Chicago 16, Ill., April 17, 1947.

Chairman, Senate Banking and Currency Committee,

Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.

HONORABLE SIR: We enclose for your attention a statement relative to the particular housing problem of the Negro people in the city of Chicago, Ill.

We earnestly request that you read this statement and are certain that the reading of the same cannot but evoke some consideration on your part of our plight as it relates to the general housing bill.

Please be so kind as to provide us with information, as early as you conveniently can, as to your attitude toward the general housing bill.

Respectfully yours,

HENRY W. MCGEE, President.


To the Members of the Senate and the Delegation to Congress From the State of Illinois:

We, the executive officers and members of the executive committee of the Chicago branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, represent an organization with 20,000 adult members and whose policies and programs are representative of the dominant thinking of 400,000 Negroes residing in the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

We address the entire representation in Congress from the State of Illinois, because we are citizens not only of Chicago but of the State of Illinois; because the subject, to which we are about to direct your attention, is a State-wide problem, with crucial impact upon Negroes in other municipalities throughout our state as well as in the city of Chicago; because the magnitude of the problem which this statement treats is so great as to be beyond the ability of the city of Chicago to overcome, without the assistance of the State; and indeed, because the magnitude of the problem is so great that the State itself is unable to give adequate assistance to our city.

Housing is the subject of our concern and is the No. 1 problem facing Negro people in Chicago.—We are aware that there is a Nation-wide housing shortage. What we want you to understand, however, is that the housing needs and conditions which face us in Chicago are in degree so much more severe than those generally existing that our housing problem is of singular and distinctive character.

Three hundred and seventy-five thousand of the four hundred thousand Negroes in Chicago are hemmed into 9 square miles of living space. In this area population pressure at points reaches 90,000 per square mile and the terrific congestion has been officially described as "unbelievable" and worse than that in Calcutta. The density is achieved not by orderly extension of huge buildings skyward. It is, on the contrary, the product of the widespread, ever-extending process of dividing and redividing single-family and small apartment houses into smaller and smaller cubby holes for larger and larger families.

This housing to which we are confined is not alone woefully inadequate for its population load. It is housing unfit for human habitation. Our 10 percent of Chicago's population occupies 54 percent or 44,000 units of its slum housing. The great numbers of people living in so few and such unfit houses together breed a highly dangerous degree of infestation; our children are attacked by roving rats. The flimsiness of old housing, the debris abounding from high concentration of families, and the crowding itself, combine to produce frequent fires and increase the death toll; already this year our 10 percent population has given to death by fire nearly half of the city's toll of 42 persons.

Congestion and slum living team up to intensify illness and disease; Negro infants die four times faster than whites in Chicago and Negroes die six times the rate of whites from tuberculosis. Crowdedness splits families, makes for bedsharing and keeps children on the streets, the end product of which is juvenile delinquency; juvenile delinquency complaints are greater in the allNegro fifth police district than in any other in the city. Juvenile delinquency gives crime a headstart and the tensions of crowded living breed vice and vindictiveness; “out of a total of 39 police districts in the city of Chicago, the fifth police

district alone was responsible for over 12 percent of the total murders (and) 12.3 of all robberies committed in Chicago during 1945.


The premium on living space is paralleled by a premium on retail business space; they combine to force a great body of low-income families to pay constantly inflated prices not only for housing but for food and clothing as well.

The intense crowding of the neighborhoods renders inadequate the distribution of public utilities, transportation, schools, parks, playgrounds, and streets. Our children attend schools only parttime (in double and triple shifts). Sewer mains become clogged and back up sewage into some of our homes. Busses, surface, elevated, and subway cars are packed with people when these vehicles service our crowded neighborhoods. Playgrounds are woefully inadequate and children forced into alleys for play with rats, amidst uncollected garbage, or onto the landscaped public areas, to beat down the grass and tear away fencing. Some of our narrow secondary streets daily teem with the traffic of a superhighway on Sundays and the accident rate is abnormally high.

As the hemmed-in Negro people of Chicago we bear the primary weight of the social and economic burden we have briefly described. The whole city, however, shares its cost. A highly disproportionate amount of the city's moneys go to pay the extra costs of policing, firefighting, disease-fighting, and utility maintenance required by the extraordinary congestion. Yet nowhere do slums return in taxes either their supercosts or the normal costs of public services to a neighborhood. Moreover, though as Negroes we are hemmed in, the great incidences of disease and fires forced upon us observe no racial boundaries; Chicago is constantly in danger of a catastrophe worse than the city-consuming fire of 1871; our State is as constantly in danger of a volume of sudden deaths beside which the recent Centralia mine disaster will appear puny indeed. Finally, major residential rebuilding in cleared slum areas is bogged down beneath that inability to demolish which stems from the lack of housing elsewhere in which to relocate Negro families now resident in the slum areas.

We cannot add to our occupancy in the existing housing supply. The Illinois courts uphold those deed restrictions and restrictive covenants which confine Negroes to inadequate living space. Today there pend in Cook County courts 40 cases, involving various neighborhoods in which Negroes have sought to purchase vacant properties. Either in lieu of, or in addition to, judicial enforcement of restrictions, neighborhood residents employ terroristic tactics to keep Negroes restricted. From May 1, 1944, to July 20, 1946, there were more than 46 arsonbombing and other attacks against the persons and newly acquired properties of Negroes in Chicago. It need hardly be added that the virtue of home-sharing has long since become a vice in the hemmed-in area of Negro occupancy. Homes conversion in the form of makeshift kitchenettes was an accomplished evil even before the war.

The private and public forces for the production of houses in Chicago are unable to add new housing for occupancy by Negroes. Would-be sponsors and builders do not choose to build for an element of the market producing problems in addition to and more vexatious than those typical of today's problematical residential building operation. For example, they find the few sites within the area of Negro confinement to be extortionately priced, too scattered for mass operation, and located in blighted, if not slum, neighborhoods. Outside the slum areas, they find deed restrictions or covenants against Negroes on most vacant parcels, with much of the little remaining vacant land zoned other than residential or unfit for residential use. The local housing authority has plans for thousands of units but is without funds.

While the State of Illinois is expending several million dollars in Chicago, used by the local authority for slum land acquisition, clearance, and assembly, Governor Green as recently as April 7 formally advised Mayor Kelly's housing committee that the State's cash balances have been specifically appropriated for other purposes than housing.

In view, therefore, of the conditions we have described above; the present inability of our local private housing development interests and the local housing authority to make housing available to us; and the financial inability of the State to render further assistance, the Chicago branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recognizes that the 400,000 people it represents must look to the Federal Government for aid and assistance.

We hereby declare our support for the general housing bill, S. 866, known as the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill in the Senate and the Javits bill in the House of Representatives. We strongly urge the Senators and Congressmen from our

« PreviousContinue »