Page images
PDF
EPUB

nently found their niche in life, that many thousands will yet more from community to community until each has established himself or herself in a proper location and job and that this process will take more than the 5-year limitation included in this present bill.

Since the bill makes no limitation as to age of tenants generally, it is presumed that the need for public housing is not limited as groups, and it must, therefore, be assumed that a certain percentage of World War II veterans will be in need of public housing through the years, and we believe that the service which those veterans rendered their Government and the American people entitle them to a preference at any time in life and not for just the next 5 years.

We, therefore, specifically request that this committee amend title II by striking out the words "where application for admission to such housing is made not later than five years after March 1, 1949" as these words appear in lines 13 through 15 of page 27.

In section 202 (g) preference is given first to families which are to be displaced by any low-rent housing project or by any slumclearance project or redevelopment project or which were so displaced within 3 years prior to making application for admission to any low-rent housing project, then to veterans or families of veterans, first to those disabled, but in each case limited to a period of 5 years from March 1, 1919.

We agree that first preference should be given to those persons and families who are displaced by reason of the clearance of an area for the construction of a specific project, but we do not believe that that preference should be a continuing one, since it must be evident that anyone displaced by some other project 3 years ago should have become resettled within that period. We object to the continuing first preference over a period of 3 years due to the fact that it would take preference over veterans who so sorely need this housing space.

To accomplish this, we suggest in lines 4, 5, and 6 on page 29, the following language be stricken:

Where an application for admission is made not later than 5 years after March 1, 1949,

This date appears a second time, and to correct the balance of the subsection, it is suggested that in lines 14 and 15, on page 29, the following language be stricken:

Where an application for admission is made not later than 5 years after March 1, 1949,

If these suggestions are incorporated into the bill, the bill will then provide that first preference in low-rent public housing be given to families displaced by that project; second preference to disabled veterans whose disability has been determined by the Veterans Administration to be service-connected; and, third preference to other veterans and servicemen and their families, without the 5-year limitation.

Title III, relating to housing research, seems to us to be adequate except that we feel that in lines 13 and 14, page 50, the words,

The administrator is further authorized for the purpose of this titleshould be changed to readThe Administrator shall for the purposes of this titlethereby assuring the widest possible use of all research talent of the Nation.

Title III—Farm Housing. This title seems adequate.

There are three important matters which are not covered in H. R. 4009, which we believe deserve the most serious consideration of your committee. These are

1. Assistance for veterans' cooperatives. Since H. R. 4009 did not cover that item, the American Legion, in cooperation with Representative Patman, has worked up the data which Mr. Patman used in preparing H. R. 2811. We understand the committee is going to have a hearing on that in the latter part of the month, and we hope we may have an opportunity of testifying on it.

2. A satisfactory secondary market for mortgages guaranteed under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, as amended; and

3. A provision for direct loans to veterans at a low interest rate when private lending agencies do not meet this need.

I want to express my appreciation for the courtesy shown me by you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this committee.

Items 2 and 3 are satisfactorily covered by Mr. Rains' bill, H. R. 2896, on which we would also like to have the opportunity of appearing before this committee.

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, it certainly has been a pleasure for me to have had this opportunity. I will be happy to try to answer those questions which this statement may have brought to your mind.

The CHAIRMAN. Is it your idea that slum clearance should be limited to residential slums?

Mr. GIESEKE. No; it is our idea

The CHAIRMAN. You said you did not think the bill should be limited to residential slums, as I understood you?

Mr. GIESECKE. Yes, sir; that is correct. The CHAIRMAN. Do you think the bill should include industrial plants as well?

Mr. GIESECKE. In those areas in which industrial plants or other parts of the city have become blighted and are causing health hazards in the city; yes, sir. I think the communities should be assisted in the cleaning out of any unsanitary slum areas. Now, in most cases, Mr. Spence, those blighted areas industrial, as you refer to them, were originally housing and gradually small pool halls, beer joints, and so forth, have taken them over. It is not so much industry as the joints around town which have moved into residential areas.

The CHAIRMAN. I think if residential areas were disposed of, they would probably go along with it. But you did not mean industrial areas, which were unsanitary, ill-ventilated, or ill-lighted, that the Government should go in and do away with them as they would with the blighted residential areas, do you?

Mr. GIESECKE. Yes, sir; we believe that wherever conditions are so bad, no matter what the basic use is, that it is creating a health and sanitary hazard in the city and blocking the development of the city, that it should be included in the program.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, the city has in itself the power to condemn those buildings, has it not?

I just cannot understand how the Government could go into an industrial area and redevelop it. It seems to me there are so many other equations involved which are not involved in the case of residential slums that it would be very difficult to do it.

Mr. Brown. You would not want to subsidize industry, would you !

Mr. GIESECKE. No, sir; I do not believe the bill provides for the use of funds in rebuilding a place. The bill outlines the fact that where a community has an area which has deteriorated and has become unsanitary and of a slum nature, that the city may go in, condemn that land, and buy it up and clear the site and then redevelop it itself.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, if it becomes a nuisance, the city could condemn it, could it not?

Mr. GIESECKE. Some cities have that.

The CHAIRMAN. There are some obstacles in the way of the Government going in and taking over industrial plants because they are unsanitary and remodeling them and making them sanitary or doing away with them. It seems to me that is a very difficult question. I have not considered it very fully as yet, but it seems to me that it is very different from the field contemplated by this bill.

Mr. GIESECKE. I can see the possible trouble you anticipate there. Our feeling was that there are areas, however-of course, basically, originally, at one time, they were residential areas. But now the entire area may be made up of pool halls, beer joints, and so forth.

The ČHAIRMAN. Well, that comes under the police powers of the cities. They can go in and close them up.

Mr. GIESECKE. That part is true. The other feature we did not like is that we do not believe that it is generally good policy from the standpoint of city planning to place a public-housing project, or any other project, in an area which was once residential and has become a slum, because if you build in an area that was a slum, you probably will eventually again have a slum. In other words, we believe that this is not primarily a housing problem, but a problem of the health and welfare of the community as a whole and should be considered more from that standpoint than from the standpoint of housing.

The CHAIRMAN. I agree with you that an unsanitary industrial plant is just as great a hazard to the people of an area as the slums. But I think they are two entirely different problems.

Mr. GIESECKE. Yes; I agree with you, they are different problems.

The CHAIRMAN. I do not think this bill is intended to meet that situation because it is such a different problem that it could not be met in the same way. An industrial plant is supposed to be earning an income, is supposed to be amenable to the general laws of the area with reference to sanitation, and it is a very different thing from elimination of residential slums.

Mr. GIESECKE. Well, an industrial plant, as you say, if it is an industrial plant, would not get in that condition. Any industry which is making its way and still in business has to be working and in good condition.

The CHAIRMAN. The laws on the statute books of every State require that an industrial plant be kept in such condition that sanitation is protected

Are there other questions?

Mr. PATMAN. We expect you to come back on this other bill, Mr. Giesecke.

Mr. GIESECKE. I look forward to the opportunity because I think H. R. 2811 has been carefully studied, and will help a great cross section of cities which are not helped either by public housing or other legislation.

The CHAIRMAN. We are always glad to hear from the veterans' groups.

Mr. GIESECKE. Thank you, sir; you have been most courteous in all instances.

Mr. PATMAN. And it does not conflict with this bill at all. Mr. GIESECKE. No, sir. Mr. PATMAN. I am strong for this bill, as well as for the other, and I know that you are.

Mr. GIESECKE. Yes, sir.

Mr. COLE. How large was the committee mentioned on page 2 of your statement-transcript page 159 ?

Mr. GIESECKE. Seven.
Mr. COLE. Including yourself!
Mr. GIESECKE. Yes.

Mr. COLE. I wonder if you could let me have the names of those people?

Mr. Poston. Mr. Cole, I will be glad to send them up to you.
Mr. COLE. Thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. We are very glad to have had your testimony, Mr. Giesecke.

Mr. GIESECKE. Thank you sir; we appreciate the opportunity.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Carter is our next witness. Mr. Carter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Please identify yourself, Mr. Carter.

STATEMENT OF JACK CARTER, NATIONAL HOUSING OFFICER,

VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS

Mr. CARTER. My name is Jack Carter. I am the national housing officer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I have with me this morning a gentleman whom I am sure most of you know, but for those members of the committee who have not met him, I would like to introduce Mr. Ketchum, my boss, and the national director of the legislative service of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The CHAIRMAN. We know Mr. Ketchum.
You may proceed, Mr. Carter.

Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, it is a privilege to appear before you to present the views of the Veterans of Foreign Wars generally on the subject of housing, and specifically in reference to H. R. 4009. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization of 112 million men who have seen service on foreign soil or in hostile waters during some war, campaign, or expedition, is largely in accord with this legislation.

I recall that period during the Eightieth Congress when the majority of the public interest groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, were supporting a bill known as the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill. We felt at that time that we needed an all-out effort aimed at all phases of the housing shortage. The Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill was the most comprehensive bill advanced at that time and as such received our support. This year the situation has changed very littlewe still need an all-out effort; we still need a program dealing with all phases of the housing problem.

All of us have a great respect and admiration for the capabilities and resourcefulness of our Nation. When we are united in some common cause there is nothing we cannot do. Witness, for example, the prodigious efforts made by American labor and industry during the last war. Although millions of our youngest, strongest, most vigorous citizens were removed from the labor force, those at home produced undreamed of quantities of planes, tanks, ships, guns, and ammunition. America set production records and won the war because it was united, because all its energies and resources were channeled and directed toward one objective.

Today our Nation is faced with another problem-perhaps not so dangerous a problem as potential invasion by an unfriendly nation, but certainly a problem of which we should take immediate cognizance. Ever since 1945 when our veterans began returning home there has been an ever-increasing and still unsatisfied demand for houses. Private industry produced close to a million units last year, but the demand for an adequate home at a modest price is still not satisfied. We have found generally that the available supply of materials and manpower have been channeled into the higher-priced homes and commercial construction, which means that fewer homes could be produced from the same amount of materials and labor. Unfortunately, and I say this with all sincerity, we have not made an all-out effort to solve the housing shortage. Such an effort should be made and made immediately.

No claim is made here that the bill H. R. 4009 will solve the entire housing problem. In fact, only about 10 percent of the estimated demand, currently set at about 15,000,000, will be met if all 1,050,000 units called for by this bill are built. It is, however, a start and will without question serve a portion of our population in dire need.

To refer specifically to the bill H. R. 4009, I would like to point out that for the last 3 years the VFW has had a resolution calling for a quota of public housing. At the last national convention held in St. Louis in August of 1948 the following resolution was adopted:

Resolved, That this country has and will continue to have a certain portion of its population which can never compete economically for standard housing, and that private industry cannot or will not serve this market. Therefore, assistance must be rendered this class of citizen in the field of decent, adequate housing if we are to have a healthy economy, Your committee recommends legislation providing for the construction of 100,000 public-housing units annually for 5 years with the provision that all such public housing so constructed with Federal funds be made available for sale to veterans or veterans' nonprofit cooperatives not more than 10 years after completion. We further urge that veterans and widows of veterans have rental priority on these dwellings within local income limits established by administrative authorities: And provided further, That veterans' pensions and disability compepsation shall not be included in income computation for admission purposes.

The theory of public housing has been debated at great length and, if we can judge by bills introduced by both great parties, has been widely accepted. I should like to call to your attention that such eminent persons as Senators Ellender, Maybank, Wagner, Sparkman, Myers, Hill, Pepper, Long, Taylor, Douglas, Frear, Flanders, Tobey, Taft, Aiken, Morse, Lodge, Young, Baldwin, Ives, Thye, and Mrs. Smith have signed S. 1070, the counterpart of H. R. 4009, in the Senate.

You will note that the VFW resolution calls for 100,000 public housing units per year for a period of 5 years. The annual figure

« PreviousContinue »