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Along with the principle of aid to the private homebuilding industry, the organizations stated:
We believe that failure of private industry to build suitable homes for all income groups should not stand in the way of the provision of decent homes through public efforts.
The bill provides for public housing by continuing the methods of public housing construction in urban areas which have characterized the slum clearance and low-cost public housing programs in the past, and by expanding Federal aid for public housing in rural communities. In the proper desire to make public housing a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, private housing, the bill requires a gap of at least 20 percent between the upper rental limits of new public housing and the lowest rents at which private enterprise is providing "a substantial supply of decent, safe, and sanitary housing." At the present time, the gap between the level at which private enterprise is supplying decent housing in substantial amounts and the rents in public housing is vastly greater than 20 percent, practically double, in fact, so that this provision should be no bar to the construction of needed public housing in the near future. Moreover, since the gap is calculated on the basis of what private enterprise is actually providing, unfulfilled hopes for private construction will not be used to block public housing. However, it does assert a principle at variance with that set forth by these citizen organizations-namely, that leaving the way open for private enterprise in the lower rental ranges takes precedence over meeting the needs of all the people by public housing if necessary.
While the shortage of decent homes and the inability to afford existing rents affects lower income families of all types
the joint statement points out—
the problem is accentuated for some groups, and their special needs must not be slighted * * Families of all sizes, all income groups, all racial and national groups should have the opportunity to live in good neighborhoods of the various types which fit their work, play, school, and other needs.
The groups specially mentioned are rural families, large families, and Negroes.
The bill makes provision for the first of these groups by extending to farms and rural areas both aids to private industry and public housing measures which have been largely limited to urban areas.
The needs of large families are better served than hitherto in the provisions relating to public housing. The present bill sets the upper limit of cost on the basis of cost per room, instead of cost per dwelling unit as under the present law. This permits the construction of larger dwelling units to accommodate larger families. Mr. Klutznick stressed that point in his testimony this morning. Since the present law already provides that large families may occupy public housing units if their incomes are six times the rent, as compared with five times for small families, at least some larger families would be in a position to take advantage of such units when built.
The bill takes no cognizance of the special problems of housing for Negroes, or other groups whose ability to make full use of the existing housing resources of the community is limited because of discriminatory practices. This problem in specific communities may involve Americans of different backgrounds, such as Negro, Jewish, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Armenian, and other.
The bill contains no nondiscrimination clause, applicable to any or all of the measures provided in the several titles. Whether or not this is a serious weakness will depend upon the administrative policies. established for the carrying out of each section. The urban redevelopment section of the bill is safeguarded against discrimination in its application by the requirement that loans may be made only on the basis of a redevelopment plan approved by the local governing body, for governing bodies may not, according to the decision of the Supreme Court, establish racial limitations on residence. Inclusion of a blanket nondiscrimination clause, however, would reassure those who realize that no program of housing and community development can be adequate unless it meets the needs of all the people, and who have seen residential discrimination act as a festering sore which creates tensions and intensifies other problems in their communities. If no antidiscrimination clause is to be included in the bill, the legislative history should provide a clear guide to the administrative agencies on this point.
The text of the bill recognizes the principle asserted by our organizations, that "the need for sufficient decent housing is not a postponable need, but an immediate one which should be met as soon as war conditions permit." It permits the funds, designed to extend over a period of 4 or 5 years, to be spent more rapidly if, in the judgment of the President, conditions warrant acceleration of the program.
I hope that this committee and the Congress will recognize the immediacy of the housing problem by reporting the bill out promptly and favorably, and by passing it without delay.
I am particularly glad to see that S. 1592 recognizes a further principle set forth in our joint statement that
The provision of decent homes must precede the destruction of those which are unfit. It is no solution to the problem of slums to destroy bad houses if there are no good houses to which the occupants can move.
Urban redevelopment projects must, according to the bill, provide for the temporary relocation of families living in the area who are to be rehoused after redevelopment, and, for those not to be rehoused in the area, there must be decent dwellings, in equally desirable areas, at rents which displaced families can pay, "prior to the displacement of such families." This is a most necessary provision to assure that the efforts to eliminate slum conditions in one area will not lead to the creation of slums elsewhere.
Such provision is made feasible, in part, by provision for the redevelopment of undeveloped or partially developed areas, as well as of congested slum districts. By providing housing in relatively undeveloped areas first, redevelopment of slum areas can proceed without hardship to the families residing in such areas, and without burdening other sections that are not prepared to absorb the displaced residence. Whatever measures may be adopted for redevelopment, they must not allow the redeveloped area to revert to slums again: It is not clear whether this principle is adequately assured in the urban redevelopment section of the bill. The bill permits the sale as well as the lease of land acquired with Federal aid for urban redevelopment. While it requires that the purchaser devote the land to the uses called for in the redevelopment plan, there is no indication as to how future owners are to be prevented from devoting the land to other uses, or how the deterioration of standards, including standards of maintenance, are
to be avoided. The whole purpose of the bill would be defeated if conformity to a sound redevelopment plan by private owners, lessees, and public agencies were not assured indefinitely.
The final major point contained in the joint statement is incorporated in the admirable administrative provisions of the bill. We said:
It is most desirable that Federal efforts along various lines be coordinated through an agency which is in a position to take an over-all view of housing needs and methods of meeting them.
It is particularly gratifying to find in the bill not only a coordinated administrative set-up, but the requirement that the National Housing Administrator shall present to the Congress, at least once a year, a comprehensive report, covering Nation-wide progress in meeting housing needs and requirements and containing
recommendations as to any additional specific programs and action required to carry out the national policy in housing and related community development. We are glad to see, too, that the Administrator, in preparing this report, is instructed to cooperate with and seek the advice ofrepresentatives of the various groups interested in housing and community development as producers or consumers
for this provision recognizes the principle of responsible participation by groups of citizens in public policies affecting their welfare, and specifically includes the consumer group.
S. 1592 thus conforms in general and in most of its detail to the principles of a comprehensive national housing program upon which the major citizen groups concerned with the public interest are agreed. The Senators who have sponsored this bill deserve the appreciation and commendation of all public-spirited citizens for presenting so statesmanlike a measure. On behalf of my organization, the American Association of University Women, I herewith express such commendation.
There is just one item in the bill upon which I want to make adverse comment, and that is the requirement that families be evicted from public housing projects when their incomes rise. On this point the joint statement by our organizations said:
Measures should be sufficiently flexible, too, to apply to families whose incomes change, so that, for example, families would not have to go house hunting and children be separated from their playmates and forced to change schools because of an increase in the family income.
Limits on admission to public housing are, of course, necessary and proper. The eviction provision is designed as a further means of reserving public housing for low-income families; but from the human point of view, and the community point of view, it is unfortunate for it penalizes the ambitious family, and it deprives the community within and around a public housing project of the natural leadership. Of course, many families want to move to other homes and other neighborhoods when their means permit, but those who have put down their roots on the area, and have made the neighborhood as well as the house their home, should be allowed to remain-paying, of course, the full economic rent.
Senator CARVILLE. Miss Ware, might I ask you a question right there? Miss WARE. Certainly, Senator.
Senator CARVILLE. Supposing a community would build a different type of house, that is, a higher type of house, and thereby not move them out of the community. They could move from one house to another, or from one apartment to another, in the same community. Miss WARE. That would be all right. The thing which I am objecting to is taking the family which has ambition to raise its income out of that community if it does not want to go; penalizing that family by making it uproot itself, sever its community connection, making children leave the schools and their playmates just because the family is ambitious. Also, in doing that it takes away from the community the people who are the natural leaders. That not only penalizes the individual family but penalizes the community as a whole, because those are the people most likely to be active people in the parent-teachers associations, and to have them yanked out of the community continually lowers the community in the matter of leadership and the ability of the community to be self-directive. Senator CARVILLE. Thank you.
Miss WARE. I want to add a special comment on four aspects of S. 1592 which are of particular interest to the American Association of University Women: its contribution through aids to private enterprise to the problems of moderate income families, its provision for research, its inclusion of housing standards, and its emphasis on community responsibility for the total housing program.
The members of our association are keenly aware of the problems of moderate income families, for the vast majority of them are in this group. They are teachers, research workers, people engaged in many professional and white-collar occupations, and the wives of professional men. They fall into what has been the "no man's land" between private and public housing, often having to strain their budgets severely to provide a decent environment of their children, and being unable to gratify their desire for a home of their own.
At the same time, they are, as middle-class Americans, imbued with a spirit of individual and local self-reliance, and they look with disfavor upon the assumption by the Federal Government of any responsibilities which can be effectively carried by the private citizen or by the local community. The fact that they have given their support to Federal legislation in the housing field indicates, in itself, that after careful consideration of their own experience and of the resources and needs of their communities, they are convinced that without Federal action the needs cannot be met.
This bill squares with their thinking by its emphasis upon the series of devices to facilitate private building at lower cost. This is the type of Federal action which most appeals to our members, for it represents stimulus and aid to self-directed activities of individual citizens. At the same time, they know that in the present state of the building industry only public housing can provide decent shelter for low-income families-hence their support of public-housing legislation for this purpose. But they hope that the segment of the population for which public housing is necessary will be reduced, as incomes are raised through the lifting of labor standards and through full employment and as private enterprise shows its ability to provide decent homes at lower and lower prices and rents, as a result of lowered costs of building and financing. They hope that the effect of the
measures provided in the bill to make possible private construction for moderate-income families will lead to a progressive lowering of the income level to which private housing may extend.
As university women, committed to a belief in knowledge as a constructive force, our members welcome the fact that a program of research is made an integral part of the comprehensive housing program. The legislative program of the association, in fact, contains a special item of support for research by Federal agencies on problems with which the association is concerned.
Through many years of study of consumers' problems, our members have become deeply concerned with the development and application of standards for the things which people buy and use. They are heartily in favor of the strong provisions for housing standards in this bill, and the warranty provision assuring the home buyer who receives Federal mortgage insurance of actual conformity to standards and specifications.
The feature of this bill which is perhaps the most appealing of all to our members is its recognition that housing involves the community as a whole and its reliance on community initiative and responsibility. Although the urban redevelopment section of the bill makes only a beginning toward revamping communities and assuring good neighborhoods as well as good homes, it provides the sort of approach which our members who have studied their communities have recognized as essential. The bill's complete dependence upon local initiative will work a hardship upon people needing homes in some communities where selfish or inert local leadership stands between them and Federal aid. But the majority of our members, I am sure, applaud this aspect of the bill even at this price, so deeply are they committed to the principle of citizen responsibility and participation.
In the more than 900 communities, large and small, where our branches are located, the members of our association occupy positions of community leadership. During the war they have carried their share of responsibility for wartime community programs. When S. 1592 becomes law-and we hope that this will be without delay and in time for its effects to be felt when the building season opens this spring-they will, I assure you, do their part to see that you confidence in community responsibility and resourcefulness is not misplaced.
They will demonstrate in action their appreciation of legislation which calls for a partnership between the Federal Government and the local community, for the benefit of all the people.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a very fine statement, and I think very persuasive, too, as far as I am concerned.
Any question by members of the committee?
The CHAIRMAN. We thank you very, very much.
The CHAIRMAN. We will now have the pleasure of hearing from Mr. Francis J. Brown, staff associate of the American Council on Education.
Mr. Brown, we are delighted to have you come here and will be glad to hear your comments on this bill.