« ÎnapoiContinuați »
I am glad indeed this legislation is before you, and I think it is of extreme importance that something of this sort should be considered within a very short time so that we can get the benefit of the building and the planning during this expanding period of industry. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Madam Perkins. The next witness is Mrs. Simkhovitch.
STATEMENT OF MRS. MARY SIMKHOVITCH, PRESIDENT,
NATIONAL PUBLIC HOUSING CONFERENCE
The CHAIRMAN. Will you state your full name?
Mrs. SIMKHOVITCH. Yes; as president of the National Public Housing Conference, and as vice chairman of the New York City Housing Authority.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed to present your views.
Mrs. SIMKHOVITCH. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, a year ago, when Senator Wagner introduced this first bill, I had the privilege of addressing you.
What I said at that time is truer today. For this year has been a still greater obsolescence and decay of slum dwellings and has made the lot of tenants still more intolerable.
This bill, like the former one, stresses the major factors of (1) permanence in our governmental structure of legislation providing for slum clearance and rehousing, (2) governmental fiinancial assistance, and (3) decentralization in land acquisition, construction, and operation.
This bill, however, has been strengthened. Whereas last year it served the purpose of opening up a country-wide discussion of the need of public housing for low-income groups, today it is a country-wide practical issue, which has the support of the churches, organized labor, and all who have a first-hand knowledge of the living conditions of those whose incomes will not allow of their living elsewhere than in run-down rookeries.
The major social need of the country is decent dwellings for all. What good does it do to have family-welfare drives and leave the poor to live under conditions the effect of which makes these drives a necessity? What good does it do to launch campaigns against tuberculosis when sunlight is not to be found in countless homes? Of what use is it to expect that children and young people will spend their study and play time in their homes, when the street and pool parlor are ever so much more attractive? This question of decent homes underlies every other social problem, whether in the field of family welfare, of health, of recreation, and of social responsibility and adjustment.
But this is not only a social question. It is an economic one as well. Miles of obsolescent buildings are wasting expensive city services and are a drain upon city resources. The policing and health services for run-down areas are out of proportion to those
required for the rest of the community. The conditions that exist are an economic menace and a burden on the taxpayers which a proper housing plan alone can remedy.
During this year of education one fact has been recognized by all, and that is the public housing for the low-income groups is not competitive with commercial housing. For no commercial housing has as yet been invented which can reach down to available rentals and still make a profit. No doubt prefabricated housing and technical advance is sure to be of help to middle-class families and to those who can afford to pay from $8 to $12 per room per month. For those of this group ownership of modern comfortable houses has its attractions—but not for the lower-income groups for whom home ownership is not only economically impossible, but also undesirable, preventing the mobility necessary for those engaging in occupations where frequent transfers from one job to another occur.
For the great body of urban dwellers, the only hope lies in public housing. Recovery will be stimulated, the wheels of the great building industry at last turned, labor employed, and the health and wellbeing of the coming generation assured by the passage of this bill. · May I add that the advocates of low-rental housing are a unit in supporting this bill. The President has called for united action. This is a subject that should be treated on its own merits as a quite separate issue from the repair and home-ownership programs of the F. H. A. and the H. O. L. C., which serve different economic groups. To help the better off while abandoning our poorer fellow citizens is unthinkable in a democracy.
This should not be a party measure alone but rather the humane and statesmanlike undertaking of any administration deeply concerned with the welfare of the country. If there are flaws in this bill which it is desirable to remedy, it is to be hoped they will be pointed out. But despite the opposition, which takes the form of silent but powerful hostility, we believe, Mr. Chairman, that your committee will recognize the magnitude and the gravity of the question and will wholeheartedly report it out for vote. For the people “back home” want to know where their Representatives stand on this matter.
Mr. Chairman, I wish you might have seen, as we have seen in New York in our small public housing venture called First Houses, the delight our tenants express for the opportunity that is theirs in their new home. Already the tenants have organized to promote the welfare of their children in the playground and recreation rooms provided for them. It is a new life, freed from fear and full of hope and planning for the future. Out of such homes comes family stability, good will, energy and enterprise-all those qualities Americans rightly cherish.
If Congress passes this bill, an attitude of cooperation and goodwill will develop in our urban areas. For public housing is an incentive to a realistically good citizenship we can ill afford to neglect.
The CHAIRMAN. We thank you, Mr. Simkhovitch. Mr. Bohn, will you come forward!
STATEMENT OF ERNEST J. BOHN, MEMBER OF THE CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL, CLEVELAND, OHIO, AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOUSING OFFICIALS
Mr. Bohn. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appear before you as a public official, a legislator concerned with running the city government of Cleveland in the same way you are concerned with legislating for the United States.
I have with me a resolution adopted at the last meeting of the City Council of Cleveland, which I would like to read to you:
Whereas the availability of decent sanitary and safe housing for all of the people is now recognized as a proper concern of government; and
Whereas persons of low income can be housed adequately only by a decree of government aid; and
Whereas the low-income group is of necessity occupying cast-off housing in what are known as our slum and blighted areas; and
Whereas the continued maintenance of our slums is a socially undesirable and an economie waste; and
Whereas the city of Cleveland has embarked upon a low-cost housing and slum-clearance program with the aid of the Housing Division of the Emergency Administration of Public Works; and
Whereas no funds are available to carry on this work without additional appropriations; and
Whereas it is desirable to preserve the benefits of the emergency housing experiences by providing for a permanent housing agency in the Federal Government; and
Whereas the building trades are still in need of stimulation in order to bring back a greater degree of employment; and
Whereas this resolution constitutes an emergency in that the same provides for the immediate preservation of the public property and the usual daily operation of a municipal department: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, By the Council of the City of Cleveland:
SECTION 1. That the United States Senate be, and it is hereby, requested to enact, at the earliest date possible, “The United States Housing Act of 1936", being Senate bill no. 4424, introduced by Senator Robert F. Wagner, and that the House of Representatives enact the identical measure introduced in said House by Congressman Henry Ellenbogen, of Pennsylvania, and being H. R. 12164,
And copies of the resolution to be sent to the present Members of Congress.
In our work in carrying on the city government we are concerned every year in the same way you gentlemen are, with balancing the budget, trying to run our city government within the income that the city is able to obtain out of the necessary taxes. Our problem is the same as yours, we find more money is needed than comes in, and so we are faced with two things either raising additional taxes or cutting out some of our expenditures.
A short time ago the city of Cleveland, in order to reduce the cost of government, made a study of its expenditures. We have for a long time believed that there is a great deal of waste in what are known as our slum areas. We analyzed one of these areas which contains about three-fourths of 1 percent of the total land area, and 21/2 percent of the total entire downtown section of our city.
I am not a social worker and I am not going to spend your time on the great social problems. I think all of us recognize the great social loss, the great social cost of the maintenance of our slums; but let me point out these figures in this area where only 21,2 percent of our people live, that that is where 21 percent of our murders are committed; 26 percent of our houses of prostitution are in this
area ; 6.8 percent of all boy delinquency arises in this area; 212 percent of the people furnish 6.8 percent of the delinquency; 1212 percent of the tubercular deaths occur in this area, 212 percent of the people and three-fourths of 1 percent of the total area, and 1242 percent of the tubercular deaths which occur a public expense, in that area.
The CHAIRMAN. Are the people who live in this section the socalled aliens?
Mr. Bown. My personal view is that the race has nothing to do with the problem but it does so happen that the alien group, due to their low income, has to work in the lowest-paid trades and naturally have to live in the houses which are in the slums.
The CHAIRMAN. I agree with you.
Mr. Bohn. May I turn to the matter of costs? In this area we collect $225,035 in taxes, that is, if all of the taxes are collected the maximum that would be collected would be $225,000, and adding up all of the cost for fire protection, police protection, street cleaning, and various other expenditures, we have a total of $1,366,000, in round figures.
The CHAIRMAN. One of the large items, of course, is schools?
Mr. Bohn. Of course, it is true that the schools are a large item. but the largest item is the fire department, $406,000.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean for that locality there, that is the cost for maintaining the fire department or the losses by fire?
Mr. Boux. No; that is maintenance of the fire department, the stand-by charges; in other words, we must provide more fire protection for that area than elsewhere, where we have shacks, closely built-in areas, houses that were built for one family and converted into four or five, so that while it may be true that the total number of fires are not greater in this area than elsewhere, but stand-by charge is greater, because if fire is permitted to occur there it will spread to the whole city.
Police protection cost $255,000. You asked about schools, and that is $361,000.
So that the total loss above the taxes is $1,131,000, with nothing added to that for additional expenses of government, and it is estimated that the additional expenses of government to be added to that, chargeable to this area, would be $615,000, so that the total economic loss out of the area is $1,707,000.
We say as governmental officials, that it is sound for us to do something toward the eradication of these areas in order to reduce that deficit.
You may wonder, Mr. Chairman, at such a staggering figure for these costs, but to illustrate it I have a break-down of the cost of fire protection. The per-capita cost for fire protection in our city is $3.12, that is, dividing the total cost of first protection by the number of people in the city, you have a figure of $3.12; and if you divide the total cost of fire protection in this area by the number of people living in the area, it is $18.27; so that you have the difference between $3.12 per-capita cost for thes city and $18.27 in this area,
For police protection, our per-capita cost of police protection in the city is $4.37, while the per-capita cost in this area is $11.50, arrived at in the same manner.
I submit to you as exhibit B this exhibit prepared by the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority entitled “An Analysis of a Slum Area in Cleveland.”
I also submit to you a pamphlet headed "A Sheet-a-Week Prepared_by Howard Whipple Green”, on the subject Slums, a City's Most Expensive Luxury, as exhibit Ć. This is a graphic presentation of the material therein, and among other things it has this map I hold in my hand showing the various rental areas in various colors.
There is also an overlay which shows for each murder in the city there is a dot, showing the very high concentration of murders in the slum areas.
Another map shows the houses of prostitution; and you will again note that it is highly concentrated in the slum area, the area which I just illustrated to you on the map.
Juvenile delinquency again is highly concentrated in the same slum area, and deaths from tuberculosis are again highly concentrated in this area.
I submit those exhibits to you, exhibits B and C. The CHAIRMAN. Those may be filed with the clerk for the benefit of the committee.
Mr. Bohn. Another exhibit I have here that may not exactly fit into this part of my statement, is a map showing what happens to families who move from a cleared area. One of the arguments, I dare say, that will be presented to the committee during the hearing by people who are opposed to a slum clearance program, is that if an area is cleared the population is dispelled all over the city. In the small experiment of slum clearance undertaken by the Public Works Administration in Cleveland, where some 290 families were evicted from the area where the old slums were torn down, on this it is shown that 85 percent of them remained within a mile of the area that was cleared. Of course, you understand the new buildings have not been put up, and this does not analyze what happened to the people after the buildings are up; but the committee may want to refer to it, and I submit that in evidence as exhibit D.
The CHAIRMAN. That may þe filed with the clerk for the benefit of the committee.
Mr. Bohn. There will be some discussion before the committee, I take it, of the real property inventory, and I shall discuss it to show the enormity of the problem and the inability of the city to deal with it. The overcrowded conditions in the city, as shown by the real property inventory, shows that the greatly overcrowded units are 13 percent of the total rental units available. Thirteen percent of all of the units in the city are either crowded or greatly crowded.
Those figures of overcrowding standing alone may not be particularly significant, but when those figures are broken up into units based upon the rental value of the classifications, the units renting under $15, there are 25 percent of those units overcrowded, and those are the units, I take it, where we are directing our discussion.
In the matter of the condition of buildings, although only 4 percent of the total units in my city are characterized by the real property inventory as being unfit for use, yet 15.4 percent of the units renting for under $15 are unfit for use, so that the problem the Wagner bill attempts to meet is the problem of the low-income