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Mr. MARQUETTE. Not at all. I am glad to have you do it.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
(The document referred to, entitled "The Influence of Housing on Health," appears at the conclusion of the witness' statement.)
Mr. MARQUETTE. And this, what I am going to say, is in the record, but I will say it from my knowledge of the facts.
With regard to tuberculosis, the Negro tuberculosis mortality in ́ practically every large city in the country is between four and six times as high as the white tuberculosis mortality rate, but in our own community where it is six times as high, where you take the Negroes in the lowest economic area and in the worst housing, and the Negroes in the next best, and the Negroes in the very best, you will find a difference of five and one-half times there between those of lowest income and those of best income.
So that the idea that it is altogether a matter of resistance is not true. It is also a matter of environment, and as long as we continue to keep Negroes, who are the worst sufferers in the entire country everywhere from our rotten housing-as long as you keep them there, you will never bring together the tuberculosis mortalities from those two groups.
For the whites of our city the difference is three to one, three times as high among the lowest compared with the highest economic, and that also goes for the best and the worst housing. It was two and one-half times 10 years ago, in 1930, and it is three times now. In other words, we are not making progress in narrowing the gap, and that is notwithstanding the fact that the tuberculosis mortality has come down perceptibly. We submit that it is possible to decrease tuberculosis mortality by public health measures and better medical care, but we also submit that there will continue to be that disgraceful gap between the possibilities for health and life of people that live in slums and under poor economic conditions. And I do not separate them, because they are inseparable, so far as any studies that have been made so far prove.
And now I will go to the text of my statement. This statement is presented on behalf of the executives of the National Council of Housing Associations-made up of associations of citizens interested in housing in the 10 large American cities listed at the end of the statement. Time did not permit submitting the memorandum for approval by the boards of these agencies though they are known to approve the general purport of its contents.
These associations are supported by war chests or by donations. Their sole purpose is to promote an adequate supply of good homes for people in their own communities and in the country as a whole. They believe that our main reliance should and must be placed on private enterprise but that the needs of low-income families can at present be met only by a sound program of public housing.
I am likewise authorized as chairman of the Ohio Housing Council to state its concurrence in this presentation. The Ohio Housing Council is made up of representatives of State-wide civic organizations, women's clubs, the clergy, labor, real estate, social agencies and Negro civic organizations.
Public opinion is now fully aroused to insistence that there is no longer any excuse for allowing our people and especially our child
population, to live under conditions of housing destructive to health, citizenship, and to the dignity of the individual.
Servicemen returning with the knowledge that they won through to victory at tremendous personal sacrifice and feeling that they have the right to an opportunity for healthful, comfortable homes will add a mighty voice to the call for action calculated to provide adequately for our housing needs.
Appreciation to sponsors of Senate 1592: The country owes a tribute to the members of the Senate subcommittee that prepared the momentous report on postwar housing and in particular to the authors and sponsors of this great measure-Senate 1592. It is, in our judgment, one of the most timely and far-reaching social measures ever presented to the Congress. We are particularly gratified that it is a nonpartisan measure. On behalf of our communities, we thank Senators Wagner, Ellender, and Taft, for putting this great issue ahead of any considerations of party or of politics.
Need for speed: This general housing bill of 1945 must not only be enacted but it must be pushed with all possible vigor and adopted with all speed consistent with sufficient opportunity for hearings and such thoughtful discussions as will assure the Nation of the best possible housing program. If we fail to act promptly on a satisfactory measure, it will be a devastating blow to the hopes of millions who have waited so long for a chance for decent housing and especially to the hopes of veterans and their families.
The present housing crisis and the long-time program: Practically every sizable community in the land faces a desperate shortage of homes. In my own community, Cincinnati, there has not been in the past quarter of a century such widespread overcrowding, so great a shortage of homes, or such an upsurge of citizen interest in housing. Scarcely a day has passed during the past 2 weeks when housing has not had front-page headlines in the Cincinnati press. In other large cities, and I have been in Chicago, Cleveland, and Columbus since, the same situation prevails.
The return of millions of men now anxiously awaiting discharge will make the situation more critical month by month. Emergency measures must be taken to insure sharing of the existing supply, full and immediate utilization of such temporary dwellings as are available and priorities for home-building materials, so that this obstacle now slowing down the home building industry may be promptly eliminated.
I would like to stop there to ask your consideration, and I don't know what action is required, to make it possible to direct home-building materials to the building of homes and not to unessential things. I think that is absolutely critical to meet the present situation that is holding up home building. I don't know whether it requires an act of Congress or whether there is any administrative department enabled to do it, but I commend it to your very careful consideration. as in my judgment one of the most
Senator MITCHELL. That is any home, or a certain category of homes?
Mr. MARQUETTE. Well, I would be, of course, interested in homes. costing $6,000 or less, but my inclination would be not to limit it, because I think any addition to the housing supply is so vital that I
do not think the materials should go into garages and movie houses and other unessential things. It ought to go into home building.
Senator MITCHELL. Do you think any other emergency legislation should be adopted pending the adoption of this whole bill? You say emergency measures must be taken, and I wondered what those
Mr. MARQUETTE. Yes. The other one, I think the local communities themselves have got to do certain things. I have recommended to my own community that the city itself set up an emergency housing bureau officially and go after the full utilization of the supply. I could go into detail of what I mean, but I won't take time.
The other measure that would require action perhaps is a setting up again of the plan under which the Home Owners' Loan Corporation during the war had the power to lease and reconstruct large buildings to make multiple-dwelling units out of them and then at the end of a 7year period would return them to their owner.
Those are the two measures that I think should be given consideration at the Federal level.
The crisis we now face is due to the unavoidable curtailment of home building as a war necessity. It cannot be met satisfactorily except by a long-time program to stimulate the construction of houses of good standard in good neighborhoods. Senate 1592 is the one measure before the Nation most likely to accomplish this objective.
Relation of private enterprise to public housing: To the best of our knowledge, not only the authors of this bill, and the members of the National Council of Housing Associations, but every group unselfishly interested in a sound housing program for the Nation wants private enterprise given every practicable aid to produce housing for every sector of the population it can accommodate in good standard homes within their means.
We are equally in agreement with the principle so well stated in the Senate subcommittee report, that where private operators cannot meet the need then public housing must do so. Private industry, unaided, has had 50 years to try to solve the housing problem. Yet, except for the improvements in private financing through FHA— which was one of the greatest contributions to better homes and eliminates the rotten and costly second-mortgage business and produces a better standard of house. And that was Government, which many don't want anything of. That was Government that aided private enterprise to do that job-better protection of home neighborhoods through building codes, zoning, and planning, and the modest contribution of public housing-and I want to say that, whatever the public housing may be in St. Louis, it is mighty good at Cincinnati, and I am proud to back them against all comers. I am a consultant for the housing authority, and I know what they have done. We are no nearer the solution today than we were at the turn of the century. No measure ever presented offers more practical aids to private-enterprise housing than this bill.
The greatest unmet housing need, except for that of very low-income families which commercial building never has and cannot meet, is the middle market which private enterprise must meet. It cannot build for the middle market without new tools. And I mention the fact that today we cannot build in Cincinnati for less than $8,000. That
means total monthly payments and upkeep of close to $75. And the situation isn't much different in other northern cities. Those costs are beyond the means of millions. How can the building industry achieve its full possibilities and make its full contribution to employment unless it can serve a greater percentage of its market?
Now I am coming to something, and I don't believe it has been brought to your attention, and maybe many of you gentlemen here do not realize it is a very significant thing:
Home ownership in this country is on the decline. Between 1930 and 1940 every one of the largest American cities experienced a loss in the percentage of homes owned. Not only that, but eight of them in 1940 had the lowest percentage of home ownership in 40 years. There is something the matter.
The CHAIRMAN. I didn't realize that.
Mr. MARQUETTE. Did you have that information, Senator?
Mr. MARQUETTE. Well, it is a fact, and I have the substantiating data, based on the United States census figures.
One factor accounting for this is that the cost of homes has been beyond the reach of millions. The other is fear of the loss of equity. They haven't forgotten what happened during the depression and how the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, set up by the Government, saved a million of them from losing their equities.
The special safeguard, permitting lapse of payments by home buyers during short periods of distress, is an important provision of this bill.
Let there be no mistake about it. It will take more than highpressure salesmanship and far-flung publicity campaigns, as some people seem to think are the only thing needed, to reverse the downward trend of home ownership that occurred during the past decade.
While we are all for home ownership for those who want it and those who can afford it, many families-and that was said here today— including those of veterans, cannot or do not want to buy. They should not be compelled to do so because of the lack of rental housing? We favor more good standard rental housing by private enterprise for the middle market. We therefore support the provision of this bill for yield insurance. We don't guarantee as to what it will do, but we do say that it is the most promising means that we know of of encouraging large financial institutions to build dwelling accommodations at lower rents than are normally possible in new construction. These two provisions, to promote homes for sale at lower costs and to foster lower rental housing, will help private operators to meet the needs of the middle market.
Now I want to digress again. Some things have been said about some of these provisions: The great bulk of the FHA operations have been in the middle market. It has been said, the great bulk of FHA operations have been in the middle market. Well, the FHA's own figures-unless I can't read figures-as for 1940 show that 95 percent were for families whose incomes were $1,500 a year or more, and 70 percent for those whose incomes were $2,000 a year or more. Now, that isn't the bulk of FHA serving the middle market.
The argument is made that we can only build maybe 500,000 houses. I don't know; maybe we can't build that many until the building in
dustry gets geared up to it. But you can do that, they say, without any legislation, so then why any legislation? Well, simply because it means that you will get seven or eight, and in Cincinnati you won't get under eight, as I said, in my judgment, for at least 2 years, and ten-thousand dollar, and on up, houses. It means the cream of the market. It means that they will do the same thing they did before, build for the cream of the market, and in my community builders will make 20 percent profit. At least, that is what comes from certain of the builders there who have indicated that they did in the last building boom. And I don't think that is what we want.
The greatest need is below that, for veterans and for middle- and low-income families, and that is why we need some kind of legislation. And besides, let us not forget that we are not talking for 1946 and 1947. You are proposing a long-range problem slated really to meet the housing problem of America, and it won't be solved in 2 years, and in my judgment it won't be solved in 10. If we see the end of the slums in 20 years, I'll die in peace.
I also want to point out there that if builders and those working with them insist upon going along their own way as they have done before, they may very well count on another crash in the building industry, because they are going to overbuild in that high-priced market, leave all the rest of the market unmet, and the thing will crash of its own weight once more. We ought to learn from experience.
They say that the 32-year mortgage period is economically unsound because of the fact that there is a short period at the beginning when they say, according to certain standards, that the value of the property won't be equivalent to the loan. Well, I would like to submit several arguments on that point: in the first place, that the vast percentage of these homes are not going to be foreclosed. These people are going to buy homes because they want to buy them, and they are going to hold on to them. And remember that we have got a lapse provision, if this bill goes through as is proposed.
I would like to call your attention also to the fact that the very purpose of the insurance principle is to spread the risk, and it won't be all these houses during the early period of their life. I don't know why the greatest depreciation is figured in the first years of the life of the building, anyway. I thought the greatest depreciation came in its wind-up years. And I submit also that the economic soundness of an appraisal of the whole structure of FHA depends upon a whole lot of other things far more than it does upon that exact number of years of amortization.
For instance, supposing if these $8,000 houses that I am talking about 3 years from now can be reproduced at $6,500 or $6,000, I submit that that is a far greater element of risk. And if we are going to accomplish this thing somebody has got to take some risk somewhere along the line anyway.
There is the objection to lapsing payments that it should not be required.
Well, I submit that the HOLC lapsed payments and that their experience is very satisfactory, and it showed in fact that the chances for ultimate full payment were better when they did have a reasonable and intelligent proposal for lapsing payment.
Senator MITCHELL. What do you think of the argument which was made both by the Housing Commissioner and by the bankers here, that