Page images

State to vigorously support the bill. We have analyzed the bill and recognize that its provisions together offer the only available answer to the Nation's acute needs and especially the critical and complex problem which our particular needs present in Chicago.

In order, however, to strengthen the ability of the general housing bill to offer relief to Negroes in Chicago and to assure that the Government does not lend its aid and influence to extending those racial practices which render especially difficult the development of housing open to Negro families, we recommend that title VIII of the bill, on aids to land assembly for urban redevelopment, be amended to provide:

(1) Preference to displaced site occupants in the occupancy of all housing erected in the redevelopment project area.

(2) A requirement of racially equitable participation in this housing.

(3) A prohibition against racial restrictive covenants in any deed, lease, or contract involving land assembled with aids under this title.

and that title VII of the bill on field insurance for rental housing, be amended to provide:

(1) A requirement of racially equitable participation in the occupancy of the developments in each community under this title. Our branch advisedly endorses the general housing bill. We heartily subscribe to the bill's objective of "a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family." We are strongly attracted to the breadth of the bill aimed at new housing for all income levels, both rental and for sale. We understand most clearly that only a great volume of new housing will create sufficient vacancy to widen the restricted market to which Negroes are confined. We likewise are anxious to have access to housing in accordance with our varying income levels. While it is true that Negroes are disproportionately in lowincome groups many of our families are above the low-income levels and deserve an opportunity to be housed in accordance with their means. All of the Negroes in Chicago are by no means eligible for or anxious to live in public housing projects. On the other hand, however, we have the most certain knowledge, based upon the bitterest experience, that public housing has been the only real answer to the needs for decent housing on the part of the low-income groups. We are for the whole bill.

We are not beguiled by loose charges as to the costs of the proposed legislation to ourselves and other taxpayers. We understand that the greater part of the program under S. 866 would not involve any cost to the Government. The libealized FHA provisions for lover- and middle-income families would be covered by a self-supported insurance system. The loans for public housing and urban redevelopment would be repayable in full, with interest. Certainly the better housing will reduce the costs to our cities, States, and the Nation, of crime, disease, juvenile delinquency, and economic waste. Moreover, the great volume of housing produced would in turn produce many jobs each year and provide billions of dollars in investment opportunities.

We are likewise not beguiled by charges that the bill is antifree enterprise. We believe in free enterprise and understand that the bill would simply give free enterprise a boost. Ninety percent of the housing under the bill's program will be the direct responsibility of private development interests and only 10 percent will enjoy public subsidy. In fact, the construction, and in all probability the major portion of the financing of that 10 percent will be done by free enterprise.

Finally, we are neither confused nor disturbed by the charges of "socialism" directed at the meager amount of public subsidy involved. Public subsidy is a historical phenomenon of American Government and has run the gamut from subsidy of public works to protective tariffs and land grants to railways. We again urge that you give the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill every possible support.


Columbus, Ohio, April 11, 1947.

Chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee,

Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.

DEAR SENATOR TOBEY: First permit me to say that I had the privilege of being in Chicago and heard your interesting and masterful address in which you so cleverly pointed out how our lives should be controlled by rations and now take pleasure in congratulating you.


I have been a member of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority for the past 7 years and while I am a stanch Republican and do not believe in the general principle of the Government going into the housing business, I have become convinced that public housing is a necessary and essential incident to effective slum clearance and the removal of blighted areas from our cities.

I have not had the privilege of seeing the new Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill (S. 866), but from the discussions of same, which I have seen, I believe the portion with reference to slum clearance, low-rent housing, has not been changed in the new bill from what it was in S. 1592; if that be the fact I believe that if I were permitted 10 minutes before the committee, I can suggest a short amendment which would remove much of the opposition to public housing as an incident to slum clearance and I therefore respectfully request if there are going to be any more hearings before your committee, not to exceed 15 minutes to present my idea.

I am sending a copy of this letter to our own State Senator, Hon. Robert A. Taft, and requesting him to forward me a copy of S. 866. Senator Taft at least knows of me; however, he knows my brother, James N. Linton, exceedingly well, and knows our political background.

Thanking you for giving this matter any consideration it might deserve, permit me to remain, respectfully,

Very truly yours,



APRIL 1947.

The League of Women Shoppers is a national organization of women concerned in general with the improvement of the living standards of the entire population. The league has branches in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia. This statement is presented by the national board on behalf of the entire membership.

It is our opinion that prompt passage of the proposed National Housing Commission Act will aid materially in alleviating the extreme shortage of housing existing in our country today. Although the veterans' emergency housing program has helped the building industry to construct a large number of dwellings, it is generally agreed that there continues to be a tremendous need for a still greater number of new moderate-cost and low-cost houses and rental dwellings. The great bulk of the houses constructed and proposed for construction under the veterans' program are located in previously undeveloped urban and suburban areas. Only an insignificant part of recent and current construction is replacing slum areas. Unless a bill like S. 866 is enacted most housing construction will be restricted to locations outside of our cities with consequent removal of ponulation, substantial loss of taxes to the cities, and increase in slum areas. The proposed bill will enable the cities to retain their citizens and to enter upon a program of redevelopment and civic improvements.

The very fact that it is our national policy to foster the construction of houses, emphasizes the need for the early enactment of legislation such as S. 866 which will provide the incentive for our urban centers to acquire their deteriorated areas, clear them and make them available to private enterprise and local housing authorities for redevelopment.

The following comments relate to the separate titles of the bill in which the League of Women Shoppers has a direct or general interest.


We are in thorough accord with and strongly support the statement of national policy with respect to housing, community development, and social, economic, and industrial improvements contained in this title.


While we favor the permanent centralization of policy determination, as provided under title II, we believe that the continuation of separate agencies for the administration of housing activities, such as the Federal Housing Administra

tion, the Federal Public Housing Authority, etc., might easily result in duplication of functions, in conflict and in inefficiencies in operation. Accordingly, we respectfully request the committee's consideration of the establishment of a permanent national housing administration under the direction of a single administrator, which would be responsible for the establishment of operating policies under the proposed act and for the operation of the various housing activities established thereunder. We do, however, strongly favor the creation of a coordinating council, to advise the administrator, as provided in title II.


We consider the provisions for housing research one of the most admirable features of the bill. Research into methods of reducing the cost of construction, improvements in building, requirements of consumers and community development will be incalculable value to the public, builders, and localities. We heartily support the provisions of this title.


The aids to existing home ownership and rental housing provided in this title will supply much needed assistance and protection to families of moderate incomes and to veterans. This meets with our full support.


We favor the general program of enabling families of lower income to obtain adequate housing at reasonable cost, provided in this title. We believe that a real incentive would be provided to private enterprise to supply the type of housing required by families in this catagory.


It is a reasonable assumption that the insurance for investments in rental housing for families of moderate income, contained in this title, will result in a great expansion in the construction of much needed multiple-dwelling projects by large organizations. This will be of real benefit to families of moderate income, particularly in our larger cities. This is a very desirable provision.


As indicated in the introductory paragraph of this statement, we are very much in favor of the elimination of slum and blighted areas and the redevelopment of such areas by private enterprise. We strongly favor the provisions of this title.

As taxpayers, we believe that the public cost involved in the contributions to local public agencies to enable them to make land available for redevelopment will be insignificant in relation to the public benefits obtained. The elimination of slums and blighted areas and their redevelopment will produce broad civic improvements in terms of improved public health, decrease in juvenile delinquency, better citizenship, and greater happiness to our people through the broadening of community activities and the enhanced beauty of our urban centers.


We strongly support the terms of the bill providing for the construction of public low-rent housing, as contained in this title.

While there has been some objection raised to these provisions, we believe they are without foundation. Experience has shown that private builders have not been able to construct profitably, housing for families of very low income. There has been and will continue to be a segment of our population whose incomes are insufficient to enable them to pay for adequate housing without some form of public assistance. We believe that the provisions of this title will provide that assistance in the most equitable manner.

We believe that the public cost of such assistance, as in the case of the cost of construction under title VIII, will be insignificant in terms of the public benefits

derived in the form of improved public health, decrease in juvenile delinquency, savings in the cost of social services, etc.


Although the membership of the League of Women Shoppers is composed entirely of residents of large cities, we believe that it is just as essential to provide aid for housing in farm and rural nonfarm areas, as it is for urban areas. Accordingly, we favor the housing aids for farm and rural populations provided in these titles.


We favor the provisions of the bill relating to the disposition of permanent federally owned housing, contained in this title, particularly with respect to the sale of such housing to local public agencies with the provision for rental preferences to veterans.


The League of Women Shoppers urges the speedy enactment of S. 866, with the provision that consideration be given to the establishment of a permanent National Housing Administration under a single Administrator to carry out all of the functions in the bill.

The several titles of the bill contain provisions that will result in the construction of urgently needed housing for families of moderate and low incomes, the elimination of slums and blighted areas and the redevelopment of such areas. These results and the others which would be accomplished under the bill must be obtained at the earliest possible time, if this country is to achieve the high level of econmic, social, and industrial development which is so generally considered to be a fundamental part of our national purpose.

ROCHESTER, N. Y., April 12, 1947.


Chairman, Senate Banking and Currency Committee,

Washington, D. C.

DEAR SENATOR TOBEY: This letter is written with reference to S. 866, known as the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill. The city of Rochester is a member of the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers, which is aggressively supporting this bill.

I do not favor it and thoroughly disagree with those of my brother corporation counsels who do.

It is my belief that the question of slum clearance should be considered entirely separate from the question of housing. While these are separate titles of the bill, the supporters of the one are too inclined to accept the deficiencies of the other to permit proper and separate consideration being given to each.

The New Deal theory that the Government in Washington should more and more insert its tentacles of control into local government is, in my opinion, exemplified by this bill. The subjects embraced in this bill are ones that should be treated by State legislation.

The housing provisions, in my opinion, are an unjustified and further extension of state socialism.

Very truly yours,


Corporation Counsel.

Brooklyn, N. Y., April 15, 1947.


Chairman, Senate Banking and Currency Committee,

Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: As wives and relatives of veterans urgently in need of proper and low-rent housing, and adequate rent controls, we strongly urge you to put your

full and demanding support behind the passage of the following bills, thus enabling us to conform to true American tradition:


1. Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill (S. 866) with amendments:

(a) To encourage private construction of homes for wage earners able to pay over $50 monthly.

(b) To provide public housing for substandard wage earners at rents under $30. (c) Further, we feel this bill requires the following amendments: (1) A strong central housing agency for administration; (2) provisions to permit cooperative and mutual home-ownership housing; (3) a provision to prevent discrimination in selection of tenants.

2. Taylor-Douglas bill (S. 701): For Government aid to municipalities to build public-rental housing on emergency basis for veterans at $30 to $50 rentals-prices the average veteran can afford to pay. We want the all-important antidiscrimination section.

3. Carroll bill (H. R. 2340): To appropriate small additional moneys to complete temporary veterans' housing projects which are started but remain unfinished.


1. Murray-Wagner bill (S. 528): For maintenance of rent control at present ceilings, without increases for another year, with no compromise.

2. In this connection, we urge you to thoroughly oppose passage of: (a) TaftMcCarthy bill, (b) Buck bill, (c) Wolcott bill (H. R. 2549).

There is hardly need for us to reiterate the difficulties and hardships our families suffer because we can't afford the kind of houses being built at the present time. The guy who fought the world over who can meet the present builders' set-up of expensive homes, are few and far between, and the ordinary guy demands that his Government do something about it.

We heartily appreciate your immediate and thorough action in these matters. Respectfully,


HARRIET SHECTER, Legislative Chairman.

Washington, D. C., April 17, 1947.


Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking and Currency,

United States Senate, Washington, D. C.

DEAR SENATOR TOBEY: I appreciate the opportunity given me of reading the transcript of the hearings before your committee on the Taft-Wagner-Ellender bill, and, despite my acquaintance with them I am amazed by some of the testimony of three local opponents of public housing. I shall deal with the local items on which they largely depend for their generalizations. As others probably will answer statements based on national data, I shall confine myself to local items and their sequences.

All statements should, of course, be measured in terms of purpose. Îf the principal purpose is to assure an adequate supply of proper dwellings for the low-income part of the population, the value of certain statements will be much less than if the principal purpose is to assure profits for the builders and owners of the dwellings.

The witnesses opposed to public housing omitted any definite statements on what private housing actually is doing or has done to provide for low-income families. They merely made promises as to what it would do. promises very like those made in 1944 with the proviso that controls must be taken off. At that time they promised a four-room two bedrooms, living room, bath and kitchen) house to rent for $35 a month. We are getting further and further from that. A man told me last Saturday that his rent for one unfurnished room has just been raised from $26 to $30 a month.

These opponents of public housing made two startling statements to your committee:

« PreviousContinue »