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UNITED STATES HOUSING ACT OF 1936

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 1936

UNITED STATES SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND LABOR,

Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment at 10 a. m., in room 318, Senate Office Building, Senator David I. Walsh presiding.

Present also: Senator Wagner.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Will Dr. Tippy come forward ?

STATEMENT OF DR. WORTH TIPPY, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, FEDERAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN AMERICA, NEW YORK CITY

The CHAIRMAN. Will you give your full name? Dr. Tippy. Worth Tippy. The CHAIRMAN. What is your residence? Dr. TIPPY. 105 East Twenty-second Street, New York City. The CHAIRMAN. What are your official connections, if any? Dr. Tippy. Executive secretary of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you a church of your own, where you are the rector?

Dr. TIPPY. No; this is a national association of which I am an official. The Federal Council is the national headquarters of the Protestant Churches.

The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed to present to the committee your views on this legislation.

Dr. TIPPY. I may explain also, Senator, that the department of which I am the executive secretary is built about the denominational departments of social service and religious education.

There are 25 of the Protestant denominations of this country and the United Church of Canada, and they all have departments of education on social relations, and they sit about a table, and my commission, or my duty, is general executive secretary. I may say that the Protestant Church group and all of these denominational departments, as well as my own, have been interested in the housing problem for a great many years. The interest of the clergy is not so much economic as social; that is, we have our churches in these crowded areas and we are in a position to know the facts—of the effects upon health and morals, and upon the welfare of children; we see the dangers and know the perilous aspects of bad housing.

I would like to say for myself, that my duties in the past 19 years carried me to all parts of the country where I met with the officials of the churches, and visited the various parts of the cities. I have seen the crowded sections of all of our major cities, and of our smaller cities, and I have also seen the problem of housing in rural sections.

For example, a couple of years ago, in looking into certain aspects of social relations in the South, I drove from Wilmington, Del., to Columbia, S. C. I saw an aspect of housing which is depressing, and distressing for large numbers of the rural population, as in a great city, and I think more distressing in reality in the effect upon children.

The Federal Council has also been interested in the so-called limited-dividend housing projects. We were asked to assist in the two quite important projects in New York, one over in Long Island and the other in New Jersey, and we were hopeful about those, although not sanguine, because the problem is so vast.

We were asked to try to get assistance from the funds of foundations for such housing, and we were assisted by very influential people, but it was practically impossible to get allocation of funds for those purposes.

The impression I got from 2 or 3 years' hard work in that field was that it was so great a project you cannot depend upon the so-called philanthropy, it has to be got at in a different way.

I may say for our own organization, while we might have liked a little stronger bill than this and larger appropriations, we are favorable to the bill. We think there are certain distinctive advantages which we did not at first see.

This whole problem of housing is in the advance stages, and possibly in the long run it is not so bad to start slowly and find our way.

We have the establishment of National Housing Authority, which has a national effect, in that it gives permanency to it, and with this start they can proceed and find their way, and work out the complications.

I would like to say that until comparatively recently the problem of overcrowded and inadequate housing was so vast that I did not see any way out of it. It just seemed to me that in all of our great cities there was a great sodden mass of houses unfit for people to live in and unfit to bring up children. I could not see how private enterprise could reach it, because it could hardly afford the costs.

I have observed, as I think all have, that the proper breathing spaces, light, air, and play spaces for children, while they may be provided in housing which can offer economic returns, they are almost invariably not provided in these crowded sections. Whatever is done, is done by the city government.

The city government has a motive, not the motive of economic returns but the motive of health and happiness, and the opportunity of the families and children, which is the one motive that can grapple with this terrible problem.

I first came to feel that something could be done with housing, that it is not without the power of our civilization, when I read an article in 1934 in the New Republic by an eminent editor, Mr. Polycrofi, in which he summarized the findings of a group, I think under the chairmanship of Mr. Langdon Post, in which he said that it is within the capacity of our building industries, the steel industry and the cement industry, the brick industry and the lumber indus

try, and the housing organizations, if that organization could work to capacity, to build 1,500,000 new homes every year.

Now, that would mean that in from probably 15 to 18 years we could entirely reconstruct the housing of this country. Of course, one realizes that is an ideal picture, because we have a very complicated situation, out of which we can work our way very slowly, but it does show that it is possible to clear the slums, that it is possible to give families good housing and to provide housing with playgrounds for the children and proper schools and proper service for These areas.

We feel in this bill they have a start on that great project, there is a motive, there is a drive for it, there is a very careful effort to protect the legitimate welfare of private industry and to work out a cooperation between private industry and the public authorities.

From the point of view of the need of the people and what is happening we should go after this tremendously at once, but from the point of view of practical consideration, we think the plan of the bill is reasonable, and that it allows opportunity, after things have well got under way, to do whatever is necessary.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Doctor. The next witness. STATEMENT OF HON. NEVILLE MILLER, MAYOR, LOUISVILLE, KY.

The CHAIRMAN. What is your full name?
Mr. MILLER. Neville Miller.
The CHAIRMAN. You are mayor of the city of Louisville, Ky. ?
Mr. MILLER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. How long have you been mayor?
Mr. MILLER. Since November 1933.

The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed to present your views to the committee.

Mr. MILLER. I am also trustee of the United States Conference of Mayors and member of the executive committee, and I would like to first present a resolution which was passed at the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, November 20, 1935, a resolution on the Federal Housing Program. It is a short resolution, and I would like to read it into the record.

FEDERAL HOUSING PROGRAM

Whereas, there has been a great deal of public attention to the question of a public housing program though relatively little has been accomplished on such a program, and

Whereas an extensive housing plan on a Nation-wide scale would give strength and stability to the economic structure of the Nation, and

Whereas numerous surveys and studies of housing conditions throughout the country indicate the growing shortage and congestion in housing facilities, and

Whereas the disgraceful conditions in city slums and country hovels have a directly detrimental effect on the social well-being of these areas and the surrounding communities, and

Whereas it is obvious that the Federal Government must assume the financing of such self-liquidating projects through loans or investments and low interest rates; Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the United States Conference of Mayors does hereby urge upon Congress and the President the vital importance of this problem and the need for a well-coordinated and extensive housing program for the so-called low-income group, where desired and the need exists, and

Further, that the United States Conference of Mayors lend its assistance to the preparation and realization of such a program which will be substantially financed by the Federal Government though in the interest of economy and efficiency the responsibility for the administration of the specific projects of the program be in the hands of the local authorities where so desired.

I also have here, which I would like to file, a group of telegrams received by the United States Conference of Mayors during this past week from various mayors of various cities around the country, all in support of the Federal housing bill, as follows:

NEW YORK CITY. Statement of Mayor F. H. LaGuardia filed direct with the Senate committee.

DETROIT, MICH. Clarifying legislation on problems that have arisen in low-rent housing program is of paramount necessity. Successful housing program depends on simplifying and working out procedures as well as establishing safeguards to assure the projects meeting needs for which designed. This can be accomplished only by decentralization and placing responsibilities with local government units. Strongly urge immediate action be taken in support of publichousing legislation.

FRANK COUZENS, Mayor.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. Inaugural ceremonies here prevent me attending hearings, S. 4424. Wish to be placed on record as heartily endorsing this bill, which is in accordance with a resolution adopted by United States Conference of Mayors last November.

DANIEL W. HOAN, Mayor.

MEMPHIS, TENN. Memphis vitally interested in legislation to promote a national housing program for the benefit of the people. Adequate funds provided for Federal Housing Program will give employment, stimulate business, and make for better citizenship for future generations. We heartily endorse any program designed for this purpose and trust the United States Conference of Mayors will heartily support the Wagner bill. To permit our public housing program to lag when it is just showing results would be a calamity.

WATKINS OVERTON, Mayor.

OMAHA, NEBR. Please do everything possible to aid passage of Wagner bill for national housing program. We are heartily in accord with it. Feel it is essential to entire country, especially metropolitan centers. It is financially beneficial because of the elimination of every city's costliest area. Only through a Federal program can this be done.

Roy N. TowL, Mayor.

DAYTON, OHIO. Minimum thousand additional housing units badly needed before next winter. Vacancies lowest on record. Urge enactment of public-housing legislation.

F. 0. EICHELBERGER, City Manager.

TULSA, OKLA. The city government and the business interests of Tulsa unite in supporting the Federal Housing program. Last year a citizen's committee organized by the chamber of commerce supported the low cost housing program and the city government aided in every way. We believe this program should emphasize modern homes for citizens in the very low-income bracket.

Dr. T. A. PENNEY, Mayor.

El Paso, TEX. I greatly favor a national housing program for low-income groups. The enactment of public-housing legislation by the present Congress would be of inestimable benefit and service to the Nation.

R. E. SHERMAN, Mayor.

TAMPA, FLA. Enactment of public housing legislation eliminating slum areas most important.

R. E. L. CHANCEY, Mayor.
M. J. MACKLER, Chairman, Housing Board.

RACINE, Wis. I have always felt that the middle-income groups and those with higher incomes can be left to shift for themselves. There is always a market in which they can rent and purchase homes. It is also in this class of home that the private builder and realtor can invest his money safely and expect a return. The low-income groups, however, present a real problem. Private enterprise cannot house them at a profit, and if left to themselves, the low-income family invariably ends up in our problem areas. Evidence of this is apparent throughout our city. Some sort of Government subsidy, whether municipal, State, or Federal must be furnished. I have read with interest the Wagner bill and feel that here is the assistance which we need. I need not say that I heartily sponsor the measure.

WILLIAM J. SWOBODA, Mayor.

AUGUSTA, GA. Sincerely hope Federal housing bill will pass. Augusta like all southern cities peculiarly in need for low-cost housing and slum eradication. Living conditions of poorer people here are beyond description. Urge mayors conference do all it can to support this measure.

RICHARD E. ALLEN, Jr., Mayor.

MADISON, Wis. Regarding the Wagner Federal housing program, Madison is in urgent need the housing program for low-income groups. A year ago we had a project right up to the starting point which failed because of insufficient Federal funds. We are very anxious to see this project carried to completion.

JAMES R. LAW, Mayor.

BETHLEHEM, PA. Bethlehem City Council favors passage of bill H. R. 12164.

ROBERT PFEIFLE, Mayor.

EVANSVILLE, IND. Urge enactment of legislation to provide Federal Housing Authority. Greatly needed.

WILLIAM H. DRESS, Mayor.

STAMFORD, Conn. Inasmuch as I must be here next week would appreciate your appearing before United States Senate committee representing me in favor of Wagner bill and national housing program for low-income groups.

ALFRED N. PHILLIPS, Jr., Mayor. As far as the housing bill affects Louisville, I want to say we are very much in favor of it and hope it will pass.

I have brought here, which I would like to file for the purpose of the record, which will explain better than I can say in words, the facts I wish to show, in five maps of the city of Louisville.

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