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tion. The responsibility of the Federal Government should be to provide incentives through the purchase of a percentage of the construction bonds, or yearly payments over a specified period to the local authorities of the difference between the income from rentals and the costs of operation, including interest and amortiza tion on capital indebtedness.

In 1946, during the second session of the Seventy-ninth Congress, the Senate, following recommendations both of its Committee on Banking and Currency and of the Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Redevelopment of the Senate Committee on Postwar Economic Policy and Planning, passed S. 1592, known as the WagnerEllender-Taft bill. The bill contained a declaration of national housing policy and objectives and provided for the establishment of a permanent over-all Federal Housing Agency, the continuance and improvement of Federal financing aids to encourage long-term mortgage financing, the establishment of Federal yield insurance for privately owned rental housing, the extension of Federal financial assistance for additional low-rent public housing under the United States Housing Act of 1937; the establishment of Federal financial assistance to help cities eliminate slums and blighted areas; the development of plans for an attack on deficiencies in farm housing and the authorization of a comprehensive Federal research program in housing.

In the House, the Banking and Currency Committee was unable to conclude hearings on S. 1592 before the adjournment of Congress.


Legislation closely parallelling the Wagner-Ellender Taft bill was introduced during the first session of the Eightieth Congress. Before acting on these bills, the Congress decided to conduct a further investigation of the housing problem. In July of 1947, the Eightieth Congress created the Joint Committee on Housing, consisting of seven members of this committee and an equal number from the Committee on Banking and Currency of the Senate. This committee held hearings in 33 cities in all sections of the country and received more than 6,000 printed pages of testimony. In addition, several of its members conducted special studies on specific aspects of the housing problem.

The legislative recommendations of the Joint Committee on Housing (H. Rept. 1564, 80th Cong., 2d sess.) corresponded closely with, and strongly supported, the major provisions of S. 1592 considered by the Seventy-ninth Congress, and of the successor bill S. 866 which was pending in the last Congress.

S. 866, Eightieth Congress, was modified to conform to the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Housing and was approved by the Senate in April 1948. The House Banking and Currency Committee held further extensive hearings from May 3 through June 8, 1948. At the conclusion of these hearings, this committee reported favorably H. R. 6888, a substantially similar bill. This bill, however, was tabled by the Committee on Rules.

In August of 1948, during the special session of the Congress called by the President, with comprehensive housing legislation as one of its principal purposes, the Congress enacted the Housing Act of 1948, which incorporated some of the provisions of the legislation, the history of which this report has traced. The enacted provisions

included most of the private financing aids contained in the earlier legislation as well as a limited program for housing research directed at building codes and standardized measurements. However, the Housing Act of 1948 did not contain the proposed provisions of the earlier legislation for slum clearance, low-rent public housing, farm housing, or comprehensive housing research, nor did it contain provisions establishing national housing policy and objectives. The unenacted portions of these earlier comprehensive housing bills are the subjects covered by the major titles of the bill now being favorably reported by your committee.

II. MAJOR SUBJECTS COVERED BY H. R. 4009 Your committee is convinced, from the evidence presented during the recent hearings and made available from previous studies of the housing problem, that this bill, in combination with existing legislation, will provide a sound foundation for a comprehensive housing program. The bill covers five major subjects.

First, the bill would set forth a declaration by the Congress of our national housing objectives and the policies to be followed in attaining them. Such a declaration, your committee believes, is warranted by the importance of housing to the growth, wealth and security of the Nation.

Second, the bill would authorize Federal loans and grants to enable communities to make an effective start on the clearance of slums and blighted areas. The overwhelming evidence, both from the lack of progress generally throughout the country and the testimony presented to the committee, is that Federal financial assistance is essential if local communities are to deal effectively with this problem.

Third, the bill would authorize Federal financial assistance to communities in order that they may resume local programs of low-rent public housing. This assistance offers the only hope within the foreseeable future of providing adequate housing for urban and rural nonfarm families of low income who are inadequately housed.

Fourth, the bill would authorize a comprehensive program of technical research and studies in housing, directed particularly at obtaining progressive reductions in costs which now prevent private enterprise from serving a larger portion of the need.

Fifth, the bill would extend Federal financial assistance for the provision of decent housing for farm families who do not otherwise have means of obtaining adequate shelter.

Your committee recommends the enactment of H. R. 4009 as essential to any effective housing program which will contribute toward increasing and improving the general supply of housing throughout the country. Your committee does not claim that this legislation deals with all facets of the housing problem, either alone or in combination with legislation already enacted. During its hearings on H. R. 4009 the committee received many helpful suggestions as to additional legislation and has before it bills which deal with other phases of housing not covered in H. R. 4009.


There is little disagreement that housing constitutes one of the Nation's most serious economic and social problems today,

Although the seriousness of the Nation's housing situation has been high-lighted since the end of the war by the urgent housing problems of returning veterans, the basic problem itself is not a new one. It has been building up over several decades. It results from the fact that over the years we have never been able to produce enough housing at prices which a large proportion of the American people can afford. Consequently, housing has never been replaced as rapidly as it should, and many families have been obliged to live in wholly inadequate and unsuitable accommodations.

Unfortunately, the effects of poor housing leave their heaviest imprint upon the millions of children who are being obliged to spend their formative years either in dreary, unhealthful slums, or in overcrowded dwellings in which normal family life cannot be achieved. The maintenance of our way of life and our aspirations as a people and a democracy depend to a large extent upon these children whose attitudes and minds are being formed for the future in the homes of today.

In attempting to get some measure of the magnitude of our present and prospective housing requirements, your committee had available to it the comprehensive studies and investigation of the Joint Committee on Housing. This data and other material made availahle to your committee leads to the conclusion that the Nation must be prepared to build or rehabilitate at least 1,300,000 nonfarm dwelling units and between 200,000 and 300,000 farm units a year each year from now to 1960, if substantial progress is to be made in bettering our housing conditions.

The latest Census Bureau reports show that, in April of 1947, after deducting seasonal accommodations and houses held off the market for one or another reason, effective nonfarm-housing inventory for year-round use was about 32,729,000 dwelling units. When allowance is made for the fact that about 2,100,000 new and converted units were added to the supply since April 1947, the effective nonfarmhousing inventory at the beginning of 1949 is estimated at 34,829,000 units (table 1).

Looking ahead to 1960, the Bureau of the Census estimate that there will be approximately 39% million nonfarm families which will require separate housing. When allowance is made for a sufficient number of vacancies to provide for reasonable freedom of choice in the selection of the size and type of home desired, this means there will be need for an effective housing supply of approximately 41,100,000 nonfarm dwellings in 1960. Just to keep up with the increase in the rate of family formation, therefore, we will require 6,300,000 additional nonfarm units to our inventory between now and 1960.

If no more than this is accomplished, the quality of our housing supply would be worse in 1960 than it is today. No progress would have been made in eliminating the substantial number of units which fail to come up to any decent American standard. Nor would anything have been done to cope with those currently adequate units which will deteriorate during the years ahead.

Currently available data does not permit a full statistical measurement of all deficiencies in the housing inventory. However, a conservative measure of the number of substandard nonfarm units which need to be replaced or rehabilitated is the number of nonfarm units which the Census Bureau data indicates need major repairs, together

H. Repts., 81-1, vol. 3—73

with those units in urban areas which, although not needing major repairs, lacked inside private bath and flush toilet. In April 1947 approximately 5,600,000 units, both occupied and vacant, were in these two categories.

This figure fails to take into account, however, substandard or inadequate housing in the densely populated suburban communities which surround most of our large cities but which are not included in the Census Bureau statistics for urban places.

It also fails to include the effects of continued use upon old houses which today are in satisfactory condition. In this connection, your committee calls attention to the fact that the Joint Committee on Housing concluded that an allowance of 2,000,000 units is a conservative estimate of the additional replacement or rehabilitation needed to cover these two categories

Allowance should also be made for the replacement of housing lost as a result of disaster or similar causes, and of temporary war and veterans' housing units not a part of the permanent housing supply. The replacement of these units, together with the rehabilitation and replacement of substandard housing, brings up to some 14,725,000 units (or an average of slightly more than 1,300,000 units a year) the total job that would have to be done in nonfarm areas by 1960 to make substantial progress in meeting the housing problem.

Your committee appreciates the fact that the problem is not limited to nonfarm areas, and that a distressingly large proportion of farm housing fails to measure up to minimum standards for health and decency. Some of the worst overcrowding occurs in farm housing. Some of the most dilapidated housing is to be found in rural communities.

In April 1947 the Census Bureau survey showed that 1,400,000, or roughly one-fifth of all farm dwellings, were in need of major repairs, and in addition, over half the units not in need of major repairs failed to have running water, bathtubs, or inside toilets. On the basis of the census statistics and testimony presented in the course of the hearings, it appears that between 2 and 3 million farm homes will need to be built or rehabilitated between now and 1960.

All told, the total job, including both nonfarm and farm housing, involves the construction, conversion, or rehabilitation of some seventeen to eighteen million dwelling units (table 2). TABLE 1.Effective nonfarm housing inventory as of beginning of 1949 (in thousands) Total number of nonfarm dwelling units, April 1947, according to Bureau of Census..

1 34, 248 Subtract: Uninhabitable dwellings

Seasonal cottages, hunting lodges, etc.-

Vacant units held off the market (boarded up mansions, units
sold or rented but not yet occupied) --

-- 391

1, 519

32, 729

2, 100

Effective supply of housing to meet nonfarm needs of as April

1947... Add: Estimated additions to supply in 1947 and 1948 through new construction and conversion...

Estimated effective nonfarm supply, beginning of 1949.---40. 8. Bureau of the Census: Current Population Reports, series P-70 No. 1. Housing Characteristics of the United States, April 1947, table 1.

34, 829

TABLE 2.Housing needs of the United States in 1960 (in thousands) Number of nonfarm families which will require housing in 1960.. 1 39, 500 Add: Allowance for 4 percent effective vacancy rate for rent or sale.

1, 600 Total effective supply of dwelling units needed in 1960.--

41, 100 Subtract: Estimated effective supply, beginning of 1949 (from table 1)..

34, 829

Net additional number of units which need to be added to

the supply by 1960 to keep up with rate of family

formation.. Add: Total replacement and rehabilitation need (from table 2)-

6, 271 8, 470

Total nonfarm new construction conversion and rehabili

tation need.. Add: Total farm new construction and rehabilitation need..

14, 741 2, 000–3, 000

16, 741-17, 741

Total United States housing needs to 1960.-Bureau of the Census estimate of nonfarm families.


Since the establishment of the Home Loan Bank System by the Seventy-second Congress in 1932, every successive Congress has given attention to housing, and numerous measures dealing separately with various aspects of the housing problem have been enacted. A great part of this legislation was orginally enacted to deal with acute problems which became apparent during national emergencies, including the economic crisis of the early thirties, the necessity of shelter to meet the production requirements of World War II, and the postwar veterans' housing emergency. It is now well recognized that housing is not a temporary problem which can be solved by emergency measures; that it requires a comprehensive, long-range program.

Some of the programs of strictly emergency or experimental character have been discontinued and have been or are being liquidated. But from a considerable part of this legislation have emerged permanent programs which have been continually revised and improved by the Congress to serve changing needs. These include a system of aids to home financing institutions which is administered by the Home Loan Bank Board; the credit insurance programs of the Federal Housing Administration; and the low-rent public housing program administered by the Public Housing Administration.

Underlying the development of these programs, as well as the establishment of several emergency programs, has been the implied recognition that the well-being and security of the home are matters of national public policy, and that the stability of the home-building industry is essential to the health of the economy.

There has never been, however, a statement by the Congress of the national housing objectives or of basic policies as to the respective spheres of activity for industry, labor, communities, and the Federal Government in the attainment of those objectives.

Your committee believes that such a declaration of national housing goal and policies is needed. It would provide a frame of reference for the use of the Congress, the administrative agencies, the local communities, and industry and labor in appraising housing activities and progress.

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