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A permanent public housing authority is needed. Nothing is to be gained, and much may be lost, by any attempt to combine the activities of Federal Housing Authority with the progress of such an authority.

Indeed, the respective interests which Federal Housing Authority and a real public-housing agency must represent are so different that it would, in our opinion, be very bad strategy to include any extension of Federal Housing Authority's activities in an omnibus housing bill.

Mr. BATEs. Figures used in the statement are based on a study by the Labor Housing Conference of the relative merits of Federal Housing Administration and other Federal “housing” agencies, from the point of view both of building-trades workers and of low-income families. The complete report will soon be issued.

The Labor Housing Conference is sending out a letter today to sell the 70 local labor housing committees affiliated with it. This letter includes the following statement :

The danger is now that the sentiment for public low-rent housing will be diverted by the administration through pressure from the real-estate and financial interests to a program which will sound like workers' housing, but will in effect benefit only banks, private builders, and nonunion labor.

The time has come when the frequent pledges of the administration to develop a clear-cut, permanent national-housing program designed to improve workers' living conditions and reemploy building workers at fair wages in productive work must be fulfilled.

The Labor Housing Conference has "united on a program which is essentially incorporated in Congressman Ellenbogen's bill (H. R. 8666), introduced in the last session and endorsed by more than 50 labor organizations." The Labor Housing Conference hopes that this program will yet be incorporated in Senator Wagner's bill and the administration's policy.

The national housing program which labor must fight for is summarized by the Labor Housing Conference as follows:

(1) A prevailing wage provision for all public-aided housing projects; (2) a permanent Federal housing authority, empowered to make grants and loans to local housing authorities, to undertake housing projects itself, and to work directly with local labor or cooperative groups; (3) a clear-cut system of Federal grants. Finally, (4) low-rent housing must not be limited to slum clearance, which is a separate problem presenting special difficulties at present; and (5) a low-rent public-housing program must be kept separate from agencies similar to Federal Housing Administration, which are designed only to bene. fit the speculative operative builder, and cannot reach families of $1,500 income or less, nor enforce a decent union-labor policy.

It is our conviction that organized labor throughout the country will vigorously press for the enactment of this program at the present session of Congress. Labor is prepared to make as intensive à fight for a public-housing program in 1936 as it did to secure passage of the Labor Disputes bill in 1935.

Senator La FOLLETTE. Thank you very much, Mr. Bates, for your statement.

Mr. Post, will you come forward and give us your views on this legislation


Senator La FOLLETTE. Will you please give your full name and address, Mr. Post?

Mr. Post. Langdon W. Post, 10 East Fortieth Street, New York City.

Senator LA FOLLETTE. What is your official position?

Mr. Post. I am the tenement-house commissioner of the city of New York and chairman of the New York City Housing Authority.

Senator LA FOLLETTE. How long have you held that office ?
Mr. Post. Two years.
Senator LA FOLLETTE. You may proceed.

Mr. Post. Mr. Chairman, I have no prepared statement to read to the committee today, but I would, with your permission, like to take up some of the points that have been covered this morning, and then perhaps present to you what I feel is possibly the most important situation, certainly from the point of view of a city official, that this bill is designed to cure.

Senator LA FOLLETTE. That will be agreeable to the committee.

Mr. Post. I would like to emphasize one point that Senator Wagner expressed so ably this morning, namely, the great advantages to be gained by industry in the building of homes.

I should like to point out it does not make any difference who builds the homes, whether it be by the Federal Government, or whether it be the local authority, or private enterprise, industry, insofar as the materials that go into the homes are concerned, is benefited in any event. The only extra benefit that may come to private enterprise, where the Government is not going in, is the real-estate operator and the speculative builder.

Senator LA FOLLETTE. Have you made any studies on the benefits to industry from the housing projects in New York City ?

Mr. Post. We have. Senator La FOLLETTE. What do they show, briefly? Mr. Post. It shows that 55 percent of the cost of construction where, for the moment, the land, let us say, is worth nothing, goes to materials, which of course must be drawn from all over the country; 45 percent goes to labor.

Now, as your land values go up, the proportion is reduced. I should like to point out, which I think is interesting, that generally speaking we hear from all over the country that if labor costs could be brought down the cost of building would go down, so that we would get low-cost building and private enterprise could then build for persons of low income.

To me that is a completely fallacious principle, and the facts and figures do not bear it out. I think I can dwell on that for a second.

If the land costs nothing, labor's contribution in the way of receiving wages is 45 percent. As the value of the land goes up labor's contribution goes down quite rapidly. Speaking for New York City where you pay high prices for your land, where you are paying 3 or 4 dollars a square foot for land, with a density of about 200 persons to the acre, which is very high, higher than any place in the country, and higher than most places in New York City, then, where you have that contribution, labor's contribution is under 30 percent, so that the cutting of the cost of labor is not the complete answer to lowcost housing by any stretch of the imagination, since there are so many other costs coming in.

Senator WAGNER. Are you not, too, adding to the low-income group by not paying an adequate and decent wage?

Mr. Post. You are, undoubtedly, and I would also like to point out that I question whether labor has ever built a house for itself, it has always been building them for other people, and I know of no way in which labor can build houses for themselves, except through governmental aid.

Senator WAGNER. Mr. Bates just brought that out very definitely.

Mr. Post. Yes, he did. I also should like to direct a few remarks to the question of the independent board as contained in Senator Wagner's bill.

It seems to me that in starting out on this program of housing we are starting out on one of the most important social and economic fields that the Federal Government has yet launched into. The spending of nearly a billion dollars in 4 years is no small matter, and the purposes for which that billion dollars is to be spent affects the lives of over a million people.

Senator LA FOLLETTE. The fact of the matter is, this country is behind every other large industrial country in the world in this housing matter.

Mr. Post. There is no question about it. In the beginning, the work of this board has got to be one of policy. There are tremendous policies to be decided, there is a tremendous amount of education necessary before we can ever actually get this program into action throughout the country.

Many cities and many States have got to be educated to the method by which this can be brought about. As Mr. Clas pointed out, only 20 States now have housing laws.

It seems to me the very life of this new bureau which is to be set up, depends tremendously upon its independence. I cannot believe it should be left to the change of administration. I do not think it ought to be left to the prejudices or opinions of a head of an existing governmental department.

No man in this country has done more or fought as hard for better housing than Secretary Ickes, but I am looking into the future, and this is not just a 1- 2- 3- or 4-year program. One billion dollars spent in this kind of housing will get it to where it will catch afire, and in my opinion there will be no stopping it, nor should there be any stopping it until we have attained at least a great part of the ultimate goal, and we do not know what the policies of future administrations may be.

However, if we set up an independent board which is not subject of complete changes with changes of administration, and which is going to set down a policy over a period of years, and if this is to have any success whatever, a long program must be established; it cannot be done year after year, it cannot be done on any hit-or-miss proposition. I would rather not see it done at all unless a program for each city is actually set down by this board, and that the board see to it that the program is a contingent one over a period of years.


I think it is optimistic to say within 10 years we will solve this problem, because I think it will be longer than that.

Senator WAGNER. May I interrupt you long enough to suggest that in England it was the Labor Party when they came into power that started a building program, but when the Conservatives had come into power, they not only continued it, but enlarged the program, because it had taken hold and the people insisted on its continuance.

Mr. Post. That is true, and now both parties are racing to see which can give the best building program.

A policy set down by an independent board which is to carry throughout the years, in my opinion, is an essential part of the business. I do not think it ought to be subject to any particular economies that may come up from time to time.

I cannot express too strongly the importance that this United States Housing Authority is going to have in the life of this country both politically, socially, and economically. The duties of the five members will keep them, in my opinion, busy for a good many years to come.

There is a policy that must be had towards labor; there is a policy of trying to find methods of reducing costs, and that alone is a oneman job.

There is the duty of education of the various States and cities, again a one-man job for a long time to come.

There is the question of policy as to how much money should go into public societies of limited-dividend or public-housing corporations.

There is the question of what housing authorities are capable of handling, and there are questions of administration, and they are all questions which must be decided more or less in the beginning, but which are matters of policy, and not just matters of administration.

I cannot believe that this United States Housing Authority will in the beginning, or for some years to come, be just an administrative body. I think it is going to be a policy setting body, and policies which will be momentous once they get under way.

It seems to me that we have failed in this country to stress perhaps one of the most important points that faces this housing. In any subsidizing of housing, paricularly where you go into the large cities, and where you confine yourself as much as possible to the slum or blighted areas, you are not just subsidizing the tenants, you are actually reclaiming the blighted areas which I am convinced from the studies we have made and figures we have cannot and will not be reclaimed under any other method. In other words, the benefits are not entirely centered upon the tenant by any means.

To give you an example of what I mean by that, I think you are all possibly aware of the tremendous amount of building that has been done in New York City in the past 35 years. When the New York State tenement-house law was passed in 1900 it was thought what we now call the old lower tenements would be wiped out.

There were 85,000 of them, and it was felt that the city with the laws as passed, would eliminate rapidly those old lower tenements, and the slum areas. There are still some 66,000 of those old lower tenements out of the original_85,000. At the present moment, 75 percent of all of Manhattan Island, which incidentally represents

one-half of the total of $16,000,000 assessment of New York City75 percent of all of the multiple dwellings, that is housing three families and more, were built before 1900, and very close to 60 or 65 percent of Manhattan is definitely slum.

The values that land represents, makes it completely and utterly impossible for private enterprise under any conditions, whether they are building for the very high income groups, the moderate income group, or the low-income group, to build there, and we know they cannot build under any circumstances with the values based as they are now, and you cannot arbitrarily wipe out the whole value of the slum area of Manhattan, unless we change our whole system. The only way we can reclaim those areas is through the purchase of land and the reconstruction of them for persons of low income.

Senator WAGNER. I think you also had a study made of the cost in the way of fire hazard and the crimes that have emanated from the slum area, as well as sickness and disease?

Mr. Post. That is correct.

Senator WAGNER. It is very much higher than in the areas where the well-to-do live?

Mr. Post. Very much so. I can give you those offhand. We have a few very outstanding figures which are based on certain diseases. We have the records in the old lower tenements as against the new tenements. Four and a half million people in New York live in tenement houses, and when I say tenement houses, I mean any kind of apartment houses. Death from tuberculosis in the old lower tenements is 220 percent higher than from death in the new; at the same time death from spinal meningitis is 247 percent higher in the old lower tenements than in the new; deaths from all causes are 87 percent higher in the old lower tenements than in the new.

From these figures it can readily be seen that it is not just poverty which causes this, but it is the condition in which the people live, in my opinion.

Senator WAGNER. In your book, I note you have some crime figures.

Mr. Post. That is right. Juvenile delinquency is 100 percent higher in the slum areas than in the nonslum areas, and those figures would be much higher if we could confine them to the old lower tenements, but in those figures we only have the general area, and any area has a certain amount of good housing which would offset to some extent the figures in the old lower tenement.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Post, I have not been able to hear all of your statement, but you presented some very interesting figures in the hearing at the last session. For instance, you stated that 516,000 families in New York were paying under $7 a room per month, and that is about 1,800,000 people.

Mr. Post. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Have you testified to that here? Mr. Post. No; I have not testified to that this time. The CHAIRMAN. You also stated there is no builder in the city of New York who can possibly build a proper multiple dwelling today in New York City under the building code or law, to rent for under $10, $11, or $12 a room per month. Is that correct?

Mr. Post. That is correct.

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