Page images

Mr. FOLEY. Yes; but I am merely mentioning that as evidence of the progress we are making.

Mr. MITCHELL. Thank you very much. Mr. FOLEY. Thank you, Congressman, and may I say that in view of the shortness of time, if there is any information you would like on any of these subjects which can be given to you individually, we will be glad to give it to you. Mr. MITCHELL. Thank you. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Nicholson.

Mr. NICHOLSON. How long has this law been on the books, this slum clearance law?

Mr. FOLEY. It has not been on the books yet, sir. We are recommending to the Congress that it be put on the books.

Mr. NICHOLSON. You mean we have never had any of these projects for the doing away of slums? Mr. FOLEY. The slum clearance provisions of this billMr. NICHOLSON. No; I mean how long has the law been on the books? Mr. FOLEY. You are probably referring to the public housing, United State Housing Act, rather than the Slum Clearance Act. Mr. NICHOLSON. That is right.

Mr. FOLEY. The United States Housing Act is not, per se, a slum clearance act, although it was intended to be that in part.

Mr. NICHOLSON. When was it put on the books?
Mr. FOLEY. It was enacted in 1937.

Mr. NICHOLSON. How much additional personnel do you estimate the Department of Agriculture will have to put on if this bill goes through.

Mr. FOLEY. That is in connection with the rural provisions? Mr. NICHOLSON. That is right. Mr. FOLEY. I do not have an estimate. You will have before you witnesses from the Department who, I am sure, will be able to answer that question. Mr. NICHOLson. Did you not draw up this bill, Mr. Foley? Mr. FOLEY. Individually, singly, personally? No, sir.

Mr. NICHOLSON. How much additional personnel will you need in your department?

Mr. FOLEY. We are at work now on estimates for our budget par ticularly with reference to slum clearance. I do not have finals on it, þut I think I can provide you with estimates very shortly, before these hearings are concluded.

Mr. Egan can probably give you a more direct answer on the public housing

phases of it. Mr. EGAN. Mr. Nicholson, if we are to accelerate this program to the point where we can build 150,000 units a year, we will have to substantially increase our staff. To give you a precise figure is difficult at this time, because any figure we would give would be subject to a check on the work load involved--that is, the number of housing authorities coming into apply. I would say offhand that we might need, if you want a figure taken out of the air, perhaps 200 or more additional people by 1950. I do not know. I would like to give you some more definite estimates of that.

Mr. Nicholson. That would mean extra automobiles ?
Mr. EGAN. I do not think so.



Mr. NICHOLSON. Extra expenses? Mr. EGAN. Well, there would be additional travel expenses, yes. There might be some additional expense for office space.

Mr. NICHOLSON. How much in outright gifts do you think this will cost the Department of Agriculture ?

Mr. EGAN. I really do not know anything about that program, Mr. Nicholson.

Mr. FOLEY. May I ask you to repeat your question, Mr. Nicholson?

Mr. NICHOLSON. Yes. My question is how much in outright gifts do you estimate it will cost us to take care of the Department of Agriculture's proposals in the bill?

Mr. FOLEY. The figures of maxima are contained in the bill.

The bill specifies a maximum of $50,000,000 in contributions and $12,500,000 on grants. Those are the maxima possible under the bill for farm housing contributions and grants.

Mr. NICHOLSON. That is all.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Foley and Mr. Egan. We may have to recall you at some other time.

Mr. FOLEY. We will be happy to return, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. NICHOLSON. Would it be possible for me to ask some questions, of Mr. Foley later on?

Mr. FOLEY. I will be happy to return.
Mr. NICHOLSON. I was just trying to get a little information.
The CHAIRMAN. I understood you were through.

Mr. FOLEY. We will be glad to return at any time or furnish the Congressman any information he desires.

The CHAIRMAN. We will allow Mr. Nicholson to interrogate you later, Mr. Foley.

We will hear next from Mr. Poston.



Mr. POSTON. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am Robert R. Poston, associate director of the National Housing committee, the American Legion. I am very happy this morning to appaer before the committee and introduce to you our witness, Mr. Bertram E. Giesecke of Austin, Tex. Mr. Giesecke is the chairman of our National Housing Committee.

In private life, Mr. Giesecke is an engineer and an architect by profession, and we feel that he is eminently qualified to testify in favor of this particular bill, H. R. 4009.

By way of background, I would like to point out that Mr. Giesecke is a charter member of the board of governors of the National Association of Housing Officials, that he had the privilege of designing the first low-rent housing project under the United States Public Housing Authority, and that he spent 1 year in the regional office at Fort Worth, Tex., of the United States Public Housing Authority.

He has had many years of experience with other Federal agencies, including the Public Works Administration, as a consulting architect of the Procurement Division of the United States Treasury, and

since his return to civilian life, or from the Government, he has practiced as an architect and an engineer in his own firm in Austin, Tex.

I would now like the privilege of introducing Mr. Giesecke.
Mr. PATMAN. Mr. Chairman, may I say a word?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Patman.

Mr. PATMAN. Mr. Giesecke is from my home State and I have known him for many, many years, and I want to commend the American Legion for selecting such a fine person to represent the American Legion on housing matters. The organization could not have selected a better qualified man for the job, and I am sure that the committee members will be interested in what he has to say.

Mr. Poston. Thank you, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Giesecke, you may proceed.



Mr. GIESECKE. Mr. Chairman and members of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, it is a real privilege for me to have this opportunity of appearing before you this morning to speak for the American Legion in support of H. R. 4009.

At our thirtieth annual national convention held in Miami, Fla., October 18 to 21, 1948, the American Legion adopted resolution No. 771, expressing approval of a genuine over-all housing program, and citing five provisions necessary in such a program:

1. Federal aid to States and municipalities for low-rent public housing for families of low income for whom private enterprise cannot provide.

2. An adequate farm and rural nonfarm program with Federal aid for families of low income.

3. Adequate Federal aid to nonprofit veteran cooperatives for largescale developments including 100 percent Government-guaranteed financing or, where not available, provision for direct Government loans.

4. Federal aid to States and municipalities for slum clearance and urban redevelopment.

5. A more adequate research title than presently provided in the Housing Act of 1948.

A copy of this resolution is attached to and made a part of this statement. The CHAIRMAN. It may be inserted in the record. (The document referred to is as follows:)



Whereas a genuine over-all housing program is desirable including

1. Federal aid to States and municipalities for low rent public housing for families of low income for whom private enterprise cannot provide. 2. An adequate farm and rural nonfarm program with Federal aid for families of low income.

3. Adequate Federal aid to nonprofit veteran cooperatives for large scale developments including 100 percent, Government-guaranted financing or where not available provision for direct Government loans.

4. Federal aid to States and municipalities for slum clearance and urban redevelopment.

5. A more adequate research title than presently provided in the Housing Act of 1948: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the national convention of the American Legion assembled at Miami, Fla., October 18–21, 1948, That the American Legion urges enactment of legislation providing for a balanced and realistic program as outlined above of Federal, State, and local aid for the provision of decent housing, including necessary community facilities, for families of low income, with a first preference among those eligible being given to veterans.

Mr. GIESECKE. H. R. 4009 contains titles covering four of the fivo points enumerated in that American Legion convention resolution, namely, Federal aid for slum clearance, public housing, housing research, and farm housing. The American Legion, therefore, can and does suport the objectives and the general provisions of H. R. 4009, but in doing so we respectfully ask this committee to carefully, and, we hope, sympathetically consider certain changes which we believe will make the bill more effective generally, and in the instance of the change we recommend in title II more just and fair to the veteran of World War II.

Last December an early draft of the administration bill was carefully studied by a special housing committee appointed by the national commander. Like other Legion groups, this committee was a representative cross section of different shades of opinion, and included among its members the chairman of the Legion's national housing committee of 1947, 1948, as well as the present chairman and other Legionnaires from private industry, from Government, and from local public housing authorities. The testimony being given now is based on the unanimous report made by that special committee to the national commander on the original bill, S. 138, which was similar to H. R. 4009, now being considered.

Now, some comments on H. R. 4009.

First, title I, now captioned “Slum clearance and community development and redevelopment."

The American Legion special committee was unanimous in its belief that the context of title I does not provide for, nor permit, the communities of this Nation to accomplish a real job of either slum clearance or of community development or redevelopment, as called for in the caption of the title or as we believe the members of this Banking and Currency Committee intend, since the present wording limits the operation of this title to "projects" which may be slum areas now “predominantly residential in character” or any other “deteriorated or deteriorating area which is to be developed or redeveloped for predominantly residential uses.” (See lines 19–35, p. 20 of the printed bill.)

In other words, the present wording of this title considers slum clearance and redevelopment of slum areas to be only related to the question of housing and limits the program to that phase.

The American Legion committee believes, and we feel that you gentlemen believe, that the eradication of slums and blighted areas in our towns and cities is vital to the improvement of the health, the sanitation, and the welfare of the entire community, so that not only may the homes, but also the places of employment, of our citizens be made more nearly adequate and satisfactory.

We believe that limiting the slum clearance to "areas predominantly residential”—or to those to be "developed residentially”-should be lifted so that the approach to slum clearance will be based upon the existing physically blighted condition of an urban area and that urban redevelopment should recognize the highest and best future land use in accordance with sound planning, whether it be residential, commercial, industrial or mixed-housing being only one facet of the problem.

For like reasons, our committee felt that the administration of a slum clearance and urban redevelopment program should be by some Government agency other than that administering the housing program. This separation is the customary practice among States and cities, and unless land assembly for urban redevelopment is separated from the provision of housing, there is grave danger that an overemphasis on housing will lead to unsound redevelopment.

We note that title I contemplates the new development of open areas and the provision therein of necessary community facilities. The Legion has consistently favored Federal aid for the provision of essential public facilities in order to provide a well-rounded community life. It is suggested, however, that the open areas to be developed under this title should be limited to those in which there is assurance that decent, safe, and sanitary housing, public or private, will be provided at prices which the average veteran can afford to pay.

Next, title II–Low-Rent Public Housing.

This title presents the principal problem facing your committee, that problem being the extent to which the Federal Government might enter into the program of public housing. We do not have any information to add to that which your committee already has as to the total need for this type of housing, nor as to the rate at which it should be constructed; we do know that the percentage of veterans of World War II whose income is within the limits of eligibility for Public Housing is high enough to justify the American Legion's complete support of this title.

The bill clearly indicates that the members of this committee were aware of the fact that the housing shortage is more acute for the veterans of World War II than for the public generally and have attempted to provide a method of giving preference to veterans under this proposed public housing program.

We call the committee's attention, however, to the fact that the three instances in which reference is made to veterans' preference, as will be found on lines 10 to 15 of page 27 and lines 4 to 19 of page 29, that preferences in each instance are limited to those who apply for admission not later than 5 years after March 1, 1949.

We believe that this committee is well aware that veterans and their families, by virtue of their service, have suffered a dislocation and, in many cases, separation of the family, which at this late date has been but partially overcome. They still live doubled up and in substandard, temporary dwellings. It seems logical that in any bill calling for an expenditure of Federal funds for public housing there shoulā be a continuing preference for this large group of displaced Americans, and it must be remembered that several hundred thousand World War II veterans are yet in our various colleges and universities completing the education which was interrupted by their call to service and remember the further fact that the average age of the veterans of World War II being approximately 25 years, it must be expected that these young men and women cannot yet have perma

« PreviousContinue »