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In England ever since the war an admirable balance has been maintained between public and private residential construction. This balance, in the opinion of Tories and Laborites alike, has been primarily responsible for England's speedy recovery.
Are we going to follow England's example? What's more, are we going to carry out our own enacted principles? Or are we just going to sit around pretending it is still 1921? The answer will lie in whether the Congress enacts the United States housing bill into law at this session or not.
There has been much comment as to whether this bill will interfere with private interests; but is it not a fact that the President of the United States, on several occasions during the last 4 years, called on private interests—banks, financial institutions, and large industriesto assist the Government in getting some of the 12,000,000 unemployed workers back to work? And what was their response! There are still 12,000,000 unemployed.
We recommend that in the appropriations and bond issues authorized for the first 4 years that, instead of $1,000,000,000 to be used over that period, it be increased to two billion, so as to assure greater success. If it was needed in 1936—and I quote from Gov. Ralph G. Brewster's remarks made at a conference of Governors at New Orleans on Wednesday morning, November 21, 1928:
With an annual expenditure of seven billions upon construction, America is in a position to stabilize prosperity to a most remarkable extent. Public authority spends more than a billion and a half. With this we are here primarily concerned. Private business will soon follow such practical demonstration as Government may make, since the great commercial interests of the country have the most vital stake. This may apply not alone to construction but to the renewal and extension of capital facilities of every sort. It is the considered recommendation of the one who has received the overwhelming mandate of the American people to guide and guard their progress in the next 4 years that a construction reserve may prudently be accumulated in the time of plenty against the lean year that is to come.
He was authorized to make that statement by President Hoover, and authorized to request a $7,000,000,000 program, where we are now asking for two,
Senator WAGNER. I remember that speech very well because it encouraged me that the bill was going to become effective.
Mr. COLLERAX. Now, in conclusion, we heartily approve and pray for the passage of this housing bill, for the reasons, first, of its potentialities toward the relief of unemployment; second, for its long-range planning effects which will stabilize employment; third, for its slum clearance, which will help eradicate siekness and pestilence, which, in turn, will lessen crime; and, finally, this is the big push" that was needed to end depression.
We recommend, in accordance with the provisions for the setting up of an independent, permanent, Cnited States housing authority, that the committee and the Congress give serious consideration that the personnel of the authority board shall be composed with at least one representative from the ranks of labor who is thoroughly qualified and familiar with the construction industry.
Senator WAGNER. I want to ask you one question about the experience you have had in other countries. You heard me state that Mr. Morrison had said the other day that the factor in bringing incustry back to normal was this building program, and that in the con
struction industry today there is absolutely no unemployment at all in this country, while today we have 80 percent unemployed in this country.
Mr. COLLERAN. May I add this, not only did I hear that from the representative of Great Britain, but in 1934 I was the American representative to the British Trade Congress, and I, too, made a study of the housing situation.
It will only take 1 minute to explain to you that they did everything they could to try to get out of the depression, even to using the present King of England, the then Prince of Wales, who subscribed a thousand pounds for preliminary purposes, holding meetings with architects, engineers, and so forth to try and build some plan to go ahead with.
It was not until the London County Council and the Leeds County Council and the various governmental bodies got into the picture that everything started to move.
The CHAIRMAN. That is all you have, Mr. Colleran?
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. The record will include, after the bill which was inserted in the hearing on Monday, a letter which I have received from the Acting Solicitor of Labor, of the Department of Labor, which contains an analysis of S. 4424.
The committee will stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning
(Whereupon, at 1 p. m., the hearing was recessed until 10 a. m., Friday, Apr. 24, 1936.)
UNITED STATES HOUSING ACT OF 1936
FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 1936
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., in room 318 Senate Office Building, Senator David I. Walsh (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Walsh (chairman) and Murray.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Miss Bauer, will you come forward ?
STATEMENT OF MISS CATHERINE BAUER, OF THE LABOR
The CHAIRMAN. Your full name, please?
The CHAIRMAN. You are a member or officer of the Labor Housing Conference?
Miss BAUER. I am executive secretary of the Labor Housing Conference.
The CHAIRMAN. What is that conference?
Miss Bauer. That is a national organization which cooperates with the housing committee of the American Federation of Labor and the Building Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor, and is affiliated with 75 local labor housing committees set up usually by joint action of the building trades councils and central labor unions.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed with your statement.
Miss BAUER. The labor housing conference was set up about 2 years ago by the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor. The interest in Philadelphia was due to the success of the American Federation of Labor Hosiery Workers, who secured housing project no. 1 from the Public Works Administration, which has now already been lived in for about a year and a half.
The movement which I represent here today is a spontaneous movement on the part of labor groups to improve housing conditions and provide steadier employment.
We believe that the housing conditions of wage earners in this country constitutes a blot on our national resources of labor, materials, and technical skill. The existence of this movement demonstrating a great potential Nation-wide demand on the part of voters and wage earners for housing makes the significance of this legislation perhaps considerably deeper. It makes it more than just the latest frill of scientific social work or another kind of reform.
It makes it a public issue which we can easily predict will be a major public issue unless this bill is passed at this session.
As a matter of fact, the history of the housing movement in Europe, perhaps, gives more direct significance to a movement like this, because everyone who knows how the housing movement jumped can see it was the result of an organized demand, just such as the demand I represent here today, that produced about 7,000,000 workers' houses with public aid in the 10 or 12 years after the war.
The local committees which I represent were most of them set up after the passage of a resolution at the American Federation of Labor convention last October. This resolution called for local labor housing committees to be set up, to take the lead in developing an active public demand for housing, to insure stable projects, and to promote the interests of labor and consumers in the location, design, construction, and management of public housing projects to be selected.
The American Federation of Labor housing committee was appointed, and these local committees exist in 75 cities in the country, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Birmingham, Ala.
These committees, as I said before, represented building-trades councils and the central labor unions, and they also even have representatives from consumers' organizations and social-welfare organizations of one kind or another.
I would like permission to put into the record at this time the names of the 75 cities in 31 States where we have such committees.
The CHAIRMAN. That may be included in the record.
Indiana: Elkhart County, Evansville, and Green County, and Kokomo.
Michigan: Detroit, Kalamazoo, Twin City (St. Joseph and Benton Harbor).
New Jersey: ('amden, Essex County (Newark), Patterson, TriCounty (Union, Somerset, and Middlesex Counties).
New York: Ilion, New York City, and Schenectady.
Ohio: Alliance. Cincinnati, Columbus, Coshocton, Mansfield, Perry County. Portage County, Toledo, Canton, and Cleveland.