« ÎnapoiContinuați »
low income defined in Senator Wagner's bill. All housing agencies, private and public, Federal and local, will have a big job on their hands to even partially meet this shortage. Each should provide housing for the income classes it is best able to serve. The magnitude of this need demands the full participation of all agencies, Federal, local, and private, and even then it will still be no simple matter to provide adequate housing. Argument is futile and obstructive. Cooperation and action is mandatory.
Let me emphasize that the housing and slum problems of our country now require practical thinking and action. I have the most profound respect for the work done by statisticians and those interested in our social welfare. They have stated the problem well, but it is now for the rest of us to find a workable solution and put it in action.
Not every man in the street has demanded correction of the drastic shortage of quarters fit for human beings to pleaded for help in city rehabilitation. This has, however, been emphatically demanded by mayors, city councils, housing committees, and enlightened leaders of community life. Contrary to some impressions, the Public Works Administration has not used publicity or other solicitation to establish a housing project in a single city.
It has undertaken projects only on local request and in response to the great demand of cities throughout the country for help in their desire to eliminate slums and substandard buildings and to provide decent housing for the lower income group.
To be specific, I have a list of 125 cities in 33 States that are actively insisting that projects be allotted them beyond the present program of the P. W. A. Of these 53 have as an active sponsor the city administration, represented either by the mayor, the city council, or the city building and health departments.
Thirty cities already have developments but want additional ones.
Illinois.-Rock Island, Danville, East St. Louis, Springfield, Peoria, East Moline, Moline, Chicago.
Indiana.-Michigan City, Indianapolis, Evansville. Iowa.-Dubuque, Sioux City, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Davenport, Council Bluffs.
Minnesota.—Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth.
New Jersey.-Atlantic City, Camden, Elizabeth, Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Trenton, Perth Amboy.
New York.- New York, Buffalo, Lackawanna, Schenectady, Syracuse, Yonkers, Newburgh.
Ohio. -Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Warren, Cleveland, Youngstown.
Oklahoma.--Oklahoma City, Tulsa.
Puerto Rico.-Ponce, Arecibo, Mayaguey, San Juan, Coamo, Acquadilla.
Mr. HACKETT. I have also a second list of 94 cities that have requested aid in the past but from which we have not heard recently because lack of funds has stifled the hope of a project or because of a lack of facilities for gathering factual data essential to intelligent action. on the part of the Housing Division.
The CHAIRMAN. That list may also be inserted in the record. (The list referred to is as follows:
CITIES WHOSE EARLY INTEREST Is Not Now INSISTENT
North Carolina.--Durham, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Mount Airy, Oxford, Raleigh, Reedsville, Roxboro.
North Dakota.— Fargo.
Pennsylvania.- Braddock, Chambersburg, Minersburg, Ellins Park, Lancaster, Reading, York, Harrisburg, Meadville, Chester.
South Dakota.-Sioux Falls.
Mr. HACKETT. It is provided in the bill that demonstration projects may be undertaken only if requested by local interests, public or private. Fear has been expressed that this would result in a "kind of lip service rendered to the principle of local responsibility" and that it is not a sufficient excuse to bring into play a policy so thoroughly discredited and one that is open to so many abuses as that of forcing Federal low-rent housing upon communities which do not wish it.'
In face of no publicity or widespread information on our program, these many unsolicited local requests for projects represent a practical demand from cities too insistent to be ignored and they are tangible proof that there is no necessity for forcing projects on any city.
SHORTAGE OF HOUSING AND SLUMS
Various authorities and agencies have offered frightening estimates of the national need for housing, existent and future. If any of the figures were small enough to be examined with the critical eye of a production manager, I would try to draw a precise conclusion and lay down a public program within narrow limits. They aren't. A cursory examination shows that the mildest estimate—which was made by a private association-demands a building program for each of the next 10 years which approximates the peak year of the “boom” of the last decade.
Everyone knows that the boom of the "twenties provided housing for the middle and higher income groups, but that the lower income groups were not provided for. Our less fortunate citizens could not pay a profit to private enterprise in the past. Uncontrolled specula
. tive builders will not be able to do much for them in the future. They can only resort to the meanest kind of jerry-building and plant new slums in outlying territories.
Enough has already been said about slum clearance. Outworn residential areas have not been, nor ever will be, reused for other purposes. Commerce and industry are showing a tendency to decentralize, and business has pulled in its horns and gone up in the air instead of spreading out as anticipated. The remaining rotten core of last century's cast-offs must be rebuilt.
Our slums, however, are so congested that it is not possible to rebuild them and rehouse more people than are already there. Good planners say, moreover, that the slums are now too dense.
Even if every slum were cleared and covered with new housi: g or parks, we would still have our shortage to face. We haven't built anything for 5 years, but families have continued to increase. They will continue to increase, and not all of them will make the higher income brackets in the near future. It is unimportant whether we decide that three, six, or nine million low-income families are crying to help. What is important is that we see the haystack instead of the needle and buckle down to doing something about this shortage, whatever it may be.
One look below the surface enthusiasm of our proponents of cheap housing will make us pause in a headlong flight to get something built, anywhere and out of any old material. True, we are facing a problem which will soon approach a national emergency in its magnitude, but that problem won't get solved in 1 year or 5. What is badly located and“ jerry-built" may cheer us today, but will give us a
terriffic headache tomorrow. We must build with materials that will stand wear and tear, which will provide livable shelter over a period of years, and offer a sound investment for anyone's money.
We must not stack individual frame shacks next to each other on narrow lots, or put tier after tier of these boxes haphazardly out in "God's Country". Existing slums are unspeakable, of course, but the blighting influence which created them still lies on the drawing boards and in the specifications of many of our “up-to-the-minute builders. The only essential difference between much of the housing of the past 20 years and the last century is that the houses of the nineties were more carefully put together.
I have been in the building business long enough to know that, given a certain plan and specification, the cost will not vary much, no matter who builds it, and the owner will get just about what he
İt is hoped that technical advances may aid in simplifying design, construction, materials, and equipment, but this must be a continuing study over a period of years, and cannot be done in one jump.
The building industry is now unique among industries in not having anywhere a well-equipped engineering or production laboratory. It is composed of thousands of manufacturers of separate materials, and scattered individuals who assemble these materials. Architects have studied, on paper, better ways to accomplish this assembly, but less than a handful of private agencies have done balting and ineffectual experimentation with buildings through actual construction. A А permanent Federal agency must be empowered to do what the industry, because of its very nature, cannot do.
The Housing Division, starting from scratch with no precedent, has gone a long way since its origin and can go further. Without this aspect of the parent program local agencies can no more do better housing than a two-by-four radio shop can build a better radio.
Cheap frame barracks can be built in the country. They will disintegrate in 5 or 10 years and drag after them the welfare and health of their tenants. The owner will lose his investment and we can start all over again. That is the longest way around and will always keep us in hot water.
AID TO ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT THROUGH A PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAM
Only the opening up of new fields of building or industrial endeavor can bring us a complete economic recovery. Private investment must find an outlet. Someone must manufacture or build. Someone must consume. Someone must pay. No product must be marketed or used to the detriment of municipal or national welfare.
The largest field to be developed exists in housing the lower income groups, but this cannot be tapped by the private builder without using shoddy construction and creating new slums on remote vacant land. Someone must help bridge the gap between what the less fortunate worker can pay and what the dwelling costs. Someone also must prevent future slums by good planning, which requires development by neighborhood units. The long drawn out purchase of a complicated site of many parcels cannot be done economically by a private operator but requires a legally constituted public agency.
It is, therefore, my conviction that one of the surest ways to expedite and protect our national recovery, regardless of other social benefit, is to establish a permanent Federal housing agency to show the way until local agencies are willing and able to assume the full burden.
I see no essential differences between existing social legislation such as workmen's compensation insurance and laws for pure food and drugs and housing. Rugged individuals once sold poisonous meat for profit. They continue to rent rotten housing for a profit. Both are detrimental to national welfare and should be stopped. We must see to it that adequate housing is provided so that slum congestion may be relieved and structures unfit for habitation can be demolished. We must encourage municipalities to pass and enforce ordinances against not only buildings which endanger life, but also buildings which endanger the health and welfare of our citizens.
The general concensus of the best opinion developed by Federal agencies, housing or otherwise, private associations, self-appointed committees, and experts, is that somewhere around 750,000 dwelling units will have to be built by someone each year for the next 10 years. Two-thirds of our families are indicated as low-income groups.
If we do not provide them with adequate shelter, the United States will be guilty of the grave accusation that it is one of the most backward of nations in caring for the welfare of its citizens.
The present program now under construction by the Housing Division approximates 25,000 units at a cost of approximately $140,000,000; a drop in the bucket in the face of the need. Even without provision to prevent conflict between programs, interference is ridiculous.
Private capital must be attracted to housing for the lower-income groups by investment in a public program, Federal at first, and then local with Federal aid as soon as suitable agencies become qualified. Municipalities must help by accepting a reasonable municipal service charge in lieu of taxes, and when financially able, by helping to write down the cost of slum land. Private builders may be aided by mortgage insurance for the middle-income groups. Higher income groups can be aided by stabilized finance.
Further argument as to who is to do what and why is a pure waste of effort. The problem is too big. Now is a good time for all of us to stop bickering, roll up our sleeves, and get to work on all fronts.
I am strongly in favor of setting up a permanent housing agency as an integral part of the Department of the Interior, and that the Federal Government continue to aid States and municipalities in the program of low-rent housing through subsidy and direct financing until this program can be transferred to local authorities which are willing and able to assume it.
I am further in favor of suitable legislation which will establish a program which will not only insure maximum participation by private interests and States and municipalities, but which will also provide for sufficient construction by the Government to stimulate