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under a national housing agency to help us bring to the American people as a whole a better and a clearer understanding of their housing problems as they affect the proper and basic problems, including the maintenance and development of family life, the proper training and upbringing of children, the development of environmetal conditions under which right living will be possible.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. As I understand, you confine your observations largely to Reorganization Plan No. 1 involving the national housing agency and you advocate the approval of that plan? Monsignor O'GRADY. That is right.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Do you care to express any views with respect to Reorganization Plans Nos. 2 and 3 involving other governmental agencies
Monsignor O’GRADY. Not at the present time, I may submit a statement for the record later in regard to plan No. 2, because I have some views about it, but I would rather submit that for the record, because I have to deliberate somewhat more about it. I want to do some clearing, so I am sure I know what I am talking about.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. From your statement, I assume it is a fair conclusion that your view is that this Reorganization Plan No. 1, providing for the National Housing Agency, will promote sound policy of national housing? Monsignor O’GRADY. That is right.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. And at the same time, do no injustice to the other agencies like the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the Federal Housing Administrator and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation and the Home Owners Loan Corporation, all of which for the past 3 years have been under no supervision of the National Housing Administrator.
Monsignor O’GRADY. It is inconceivable how any injustice could be done to them. I think some of the witnesses made the impression that they could override the intent of Congress in passing legislation governing these agencies. That is inconceivable in that it is not in accordance with the facts. Let's be fair. I think they can bring them together for the purpose of objective discussion of the relationships of their different functions of one to another. That is important so all of us may
be able to understand better. We have this large middle-income group that apparently nobody has reached in the housing field. We need to have that discussed out in the open in a democracy. That is not something to be decided by some bureaucrat in Washington. It has to be clarified for us, the representatives of everybody. I have no particular interest in housing except the interest of the people. That is the only reason I came here.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Whatever may be said about the so-called TaftEllender bill are your views with respect to national housing, the fact remains that this reorganization plan does not make any additional appropriations or pass any additional laws with respect to housing except to provide for the grouping and consolidation under this agency of all existing agencies.
Monsignor O’GRADY. In other words, that really brings together the thinking of most of the people who have thought about this over a period of, one might say, at least 8 to 10 years. This is not new. The impression has been conveyed around here that this plan
has not been thought through. I do not know how much thought they want. We have had hearings before committees around here on it, and we have had debate all over the country, and we have had an executive order providing for the coordination of these agencies on a wartime basis. I do not know how much thought they want except they want to follow this policy of postponing action, doing nothing.
If we want to do nothing about housing except to let the prices soar upward until they reach the skies so it becomes impossible for the veteran to buy a house, and if he buys, he is going to lose it in the next 2 or 3 years, then they are going to have a new HOLC. I wonder if these same gentlemen will be back here in 2 years begging this committee to give us a new HOLC, only 10 times more. Mr. WHITTINGTON. Any questions by Mr. Mansfield ? Mr. MANSFIELD. No questions. Mr. WHITTINGTON. Any questions by Mr. O'Toole? Mr. O'TOOLE. No questions. Mr. WHITTINGTON. Any questions by Mr. Rich?
Mr. Rich. In reference to building these homes, we speak here of $20,000 housing, and $10,000 housing, and $8,000 housing. I live back in the country. We used to build a real good house for $2,500. Suppose these cost $5,000 today. The average individual that lives in the country, when he spends $5,000 for a home, he thinks he is getting a pretty good residence. I have lived in one for a long, long time. I was glad to be able to say that I helped work and save the money to build a house of that kind. Today our ideas have so changed that in the cities—there is a great difference in building a house in the city of Washington than there is in the country, because you have to pay so much for a lot in the city.
The lot here costs as much as it does to build a house back in the country. What we want to strive to do, as I understand it, is to make lumber and the other commodities that are essential to building a good home for a person today within reason so that the man can get out and work and earn and save money so that when he does build his house, he can pay for it, and have a contented life living in a home of that kind.
Do you think that the Government, so far as it is concerned, in aiding and assisting building homes of that kind, should do things differently than we are doing now, and do you think by the consolidation of the various departments of the Government into one Federal agency should aid and assist us to that assistance we want to give our people?
Monsignor O'GRADY. I think it should aid us to maintain the middle class people of the United States. There is a great deal it can do about such a situation at the present time. It can call attention to the fact that one of the reasons why it is not possible for people to build homes in your town and why the lumber yards are depleted, is because these large commercial builders are gobbling up most of this material. We are putting too much material into commercial housing. That is the thing that ought to be brought out
I wish some of these gentlemen who are attacking these constructive measures would help us bring that out in the open, see what is
in the open.
happening to our lumber supply at the present time when we are producing at as high a point as we have ever reached. That is the trouble? What is making the difficulty ?
Competition is making the difficulty for us to build houses for this middle-class citizen. There is competition for the labor supply. We do not have sufficient material to do that. Constantly, we are taking the house out of reach of this middle-income person and whom I am basically interested in, because he constitutes the great majority. We ought to think more about bringing FHA into his field. It was that type of person that FHA was originally intended for. It was supposed to help that person by offering him a longer period of amortization for insurance on his mortgage, just like we are doing in farm loans, like we are doing under the Bankhead-Jones Act in the purchase of homes for people. I think that this cooperation and coordination, this bringing together of the agencies, should be helpful in bringing all that out, and emphasizing that basic problem of what are the functions of Government in this field. If the Government is in this business as these gentlemen have been applying it around here, the sooner the Government gets out, the better. If the Government is in it as a purely business proposition, and not to develop social institutions for the American people, the sooner they, this whole group, get out, the better.
Mr. Rich. In reference to the Government aiding and assisting people in doing things, do you believe it is conducive to good policy for the Government to give more aid to people and really give them incentive, and work harder and try to get a home, that they feel they have had a greater part in construction than if the Government gave them too much?
Monsignor O’GRADY. I am not in favor of the Government giving them too much. The Government is in this field of credit, home-loan credit and 'home-loan mortgage and all that sort of thing. How does it help the ordinary citizen? That is what we ought to think about. Probably the interest rates were too high for the ordinary citizen. What is this institution doing? Keep it out in the open as to what it should be doing, and how far that is helping the ordinary man. Who needs that help? He does not need to have somebody give him a house, but he needs to have somebody
Mr. Rich. He would not appreciate it if he did get it, if they gave it to him, would he?
Monsignor OʻGRADY. I understand. It is hard to keep the Government out of this field anyhow, because if you let it go along as speculative booms, the Government is going to be in that over its head. The Government is going to be bailing out all these lenders who are so voluble around here, and it is going to be paying the difference of what the GI can pay and what they lent the GI to build a house. If the Government agencies could really provide, or if they could be coordinated so that they could do for the GI housing at the present time what really agriculture is doing, it would help a lot. Agriculture is doing a pretty effective job. I happen to be one of those after this last war who went out and bought chicken farms and things of that type. I made the same mistake that others made, because nearly all of them were off by 1925. Everyone of them lost their interest.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Any further questions?
Mr. Rich. I would like to ask you a question. We are talking about building home for GI's, and trying to build more homes. I
see a lot of commercial building being done. Up at Thirteenth and G they are tearing down a big building. They are evidently going to put another one up. Why should they construct a commercial building at the present time when they or when we are trying to save material to buy homes? You can see a lot more. There is more construction of commercial enterprises going up all over the country; if they need material for houses, why do they grant these privileges and permits for a lot of things that are new in construction until we get these homes that we are talking about? I ask you that as chairman of this committee.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I do not know, and personally I know of many who have been trying to get privileges to construcț a few small businesses that cannot get to first base.
Any further statement? You stated that you might want to file a statement with respect to one of the other plans. Would you like to ask for that right? Do you desire that privilege?
Monsignor O’GRADY. Yes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Any objection? If not, that privilege is accorded to you.
Monsignor O'GRADY. I do not want that to get mixed up with my particular purpose here. I know this committee will give this objective consideration. I find the central housing agency very useful to me over the country. I have made, I suppose, about a dozen speeches in a dozen cities in the United States in the past six weeks, and I find I have to go to some central place to get this information. It is very hard to get it.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I am not trying to get you to file a statement, I wanted the record to show whether or not you desire to ask permission.
Monsignor O'GRADY. I do want to.
The next witness is Mr. John Hawk, vice president of the Seafarers Union. He appears at the request of Congressman Pittenger.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM A. PITTENGER, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. PITTENGER. I may say that he represents 60,000 seamen in his own group and 100,000 in another group and also the longshoremen. I am very vitally interested in his testimony. I learned a lot about seafaring men yesterday. I live on the Great Lakes.
This Reorganization Plan No. 3, which he will discuss with you, affects every sailor on the Great Lakes. It upsets all of the traditions of the sea in just one stroke of the pen.
Mr. Rich. May I ask you a question? Is this testimony going to have anything to do with relation to the settlement of the seamen's strike that is now pending?
Mr. PITTENGER. It has nothing to do with it.
Mr. PITTENGER. It is not coming in here now. As author of House Concurrent Resolution to disagree with plan No. 3 I am presenting to you a witness that I think will give you a lot of facts that you and I did not have until yesterday. I got them yesterday. Mr. Hawk.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Mr. Hawk, you may state your position and
the interest that you represent and what plan you desire to discuss in the time that has been allotted to you.
STATEMENT OF JOHN HAWK, VICE PRESIDENT, SEAFARERS
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA
Mr. HAWK. My name is John Hawk, vice president of the Seafarers International Union of North America, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, representative of 62,000 seamen. I am also authorized to speak in behalf of 80,000 members of the International Longshoremens Association, Harbor Workers affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. I am also authorized to speak for 30,000 officers, members of the National Organization of the Masters, Mates and Pilots, shipboard officers.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. And in connection with what plan?
Mr. Hawk. I am speaking in connection with the President's Reorganization Plan No. 3, part 1. I have drafted a statement here.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Part 1, for the record, what does that have to do?
Mr. HAWK. That has to do there with the transfer of the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and the function is of the United States Commissioners permanently to the Coast Guard.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. That is the item to which you desire to address yourself?
Mr. Hawk. That is right.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You understand we have that under consideration. Are you familiar with the previous witnesses' arguments in opposition to this plan?
Mr. Hawk. No; I am not. But, I have drafted a statement here very briefly. I would like to be allowed to read it into the record and be glad to answer any questions that members of the committee may ask. I will not take up too much of your time.
Mr. MANSFIELD. You prefer it to remain under the Department of Commerce?
Mr. Hawk. I prefer it to remain status quo in the Department of Commerce.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. It would be very helpful if you and other witnesses that come before the committee can answer at least a few questions asked by individual members. Mr. Mansfield is trying to be helpful.
Nr. Hawk. The Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and the functions of the Shipping Commission were delegated to the Secretary of Commerce back in 1884. Seamen and ship operators had no quarrel with the way the Department of Commerce had handled those matters. Now, in 1942, when the late President Roosevelt issued an Executive order transferring the Coast Guard under the jurisdiction of the Navy, he also transferred these functions of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and the Commissioners to the Coast Guard. This was supposed to be for the duration of the war and after the war they were supposed to be transferred back to the department where they belong under the law.
However, in December 1945, President Truman issued an Executive order transferring the Coast Guard back to its peacetime department,