Page images

Mr. CLORETY. We do not believe it would be met fully, Mr. Cole, We believe that we need a comprehensive housing program of which the program contemplated by H. R. 4009 would be one part. We believe that the problem of the lower-income families and the middleincome families will be met in part by the provisions for which we are asking with relation to the cooperatives and limited-dividend corporations.

In addition to that, we believe that probably additional aids to the private construction industry for the construction of homes without any Government aid in the same sense of these others is going to be necessary to fully meet the national problem of housing.

Mr. COLE. Do you have any suggestion as to what additional aid we might give to the construction industry to improve the situation?

Mr. CLORETY. I do not have them in a form in which I would like to present them to this committee now. I understood that the hearings now were pretty much limited to H. R. 4009. Our housing committee is preparing additional suggestions which we would appreciate the opportunity to present at the appropriate time.

Mr. COLE. Yes; I think this committee does plan to take under consideration another bill which has to do with housing at a later date. But, generally speaking, you believe that there should be added to the present bill the direct loan to cooperatives provision ?

Mr. CLORETY. Yes; we do, Mr. Cole.
Mr. COLE. That is all.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there further questions?
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Mitchell.

Mr. MITCHELL. I would like to suggest that the committee, if it does not already have it, obtain this legislative report which Mr. Clorety mentioned, regarding New York City. I think those figures, as he outlines them, are generally true of a great many cities in the country, and I think they would be useful.

Mr. CLORETY. I had hoped I would have been able to obtain copies to present to the committee myself, but I was not able to do so. I hope the committee will have them available.

Mr. MITCHELL. They are available; are they not? Mr. CLORETY. Yes; it was just a matter of not having been able to pick them up in time.

The CHAIRMAN. If there are no further questions, Mr. Clorety, you may stand aside. We are very glad to have your views and the views of your organization.

Mr. CLORETY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Foster, legislative director of the Disabled American Veterans.



Mr. FOSTER. My name is Charles E. Foster, and I am assistant director of national legislation, Disabled American Veterans.

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans, I wish to express our appreciation for this opportunity to appear before your committee on H. R. 4009.

The Disabled American Veterans is the legal spokesman for those veterans who, during periods of warfare, incurred service-connected disabilities. We are primarily a single-purpose organization dedicated to securing benefits for those who, as a result of service to their country, lost a part of their bodies or minds. Because of the critical housing situation, we are appearing here today in support of H. R. 4009, a bill designed to stimulate the construction of housing for both city and farm dwellers.

Our national commander, Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, told the delegates who elected him that one of the points of his program for the coming year was to improve the housing conditions of all veterans, especially the disabled. Again, on February 2, 1949, General Wainwright, in appearing before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, told the members of that committee that:

In keeping with our proposed objectives during the coming year, we will ask Congress to stimulate construction of low-cost rental units for compensated service-connected disabled veterans.

At its last national convention, the Disabled American Veterans did not adopt a housing resolution calling for the construction of a specific number of housing units, but directed its resolution to the support of such legislation as would encourage and stimulate the construction of low-cost housing units for rent and for sale.

In keeping with this mandate, we are not urging Congress to enact legislation calling for the construction of any stated number of dwelling units, but do ask that this committee promptly and favorably report a bill, such as H. R. 4009, that will provide Federal financial assistance for low-rent public housing projects and for low-cost urban and farm housing.

The Disabled American Veterans is wholeheartedly in accord with the declaration of national housing policy as set forth in section 2 of H. R. 4009. We are particularly well pleased with that part of section 2 which states that private enterprise shall be encouraged to serve as large a part of the total need as it can and that governmental assistance should be utilized to enable private enterprise to serve more of the total need.

On lines 5 and 6, page 29, of H. R. 4009, in the section establishing veterans' preferences, the preference is limited to applications made not later than 5 years after March 1, 1949. This same limitation appears again in line 15 on page 29. The Disabled American Veterans requests this committee to strengthen the veterans' preference by eliminating the phrase "where an application for admission is made not later than 5 years after March 1, 1949." The theory of a veterans preference in determining tenant eligibility is recognized by Congress as just and equitable in view of the service these men and women rendered their country. Inasmuch as this theory of veterans' preference has been established in other acts of Congress, we see no valid reason to limit the preference to a period of 5 years after March 1, 1949. At this time no one knows what conditions will prevail with respect to housing in 1954 and in the following years. The situation at that time may be as acute as it is today. We, therefore, recommend that this time limitation on veterans' preference be eliminated.

I would like to digress for a moment, Mr. Chairman, and state that the bill recently passed by the Senate (S. 1007) has a limitation on

the veterans' preference, and it was amended on the floor of the Senate and eliminated the time limitation. We would very much like to see the bill, when it comes out of this committee, with an absolute preference, without any time factor involved.

Mr. Brown. There was no limitation put on the Senate bill?

Mr. Foster. There was in committee, sir, but not as passed. It was amended on the floor.

In closing, the Disabled American Veterans advocates that the committee report a housing bill that will encourage and stimulate within a reasonably short period of time the construction of adequate dwelling units for rent and for sale at rents and prices in line with the income of the average veteran. It is also requested that the committee write into the bill it reports the affirmative recommendations hereinabove made pertaining to veterans' preference.

With the permission of the chairman, I would like to have inserted in the record a copy of the Disabled American Veterans Legislation Resolution No. 9, adopted at our last national convention.

The ('HAIRMAN. That may be inserted in the record. (The resolution above referred to is as follows:)

LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION No. 9 Be it resolved, That the national legislative department be authorized to support legislation that will provide adequate rental units for disabled veterans at rents commensurate with the average income of such veterans ;

And provided further, That the national legislative department be authorized to support legislation that will provide decent, fairly priced family housing units for sale to disabled veterants at a cost within the average income bracket of such disabled veterans.

Mr. FOSTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That concludes my statement.

The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions? (No response.)

The CHAIRMAN. If not, you may stand aside, Mr. Foster, very happy to have the views of your organization.

Mr. FOSTER. Thank you, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. We will hear next from Mr. Aronson of the Jewish War Veterans.

Mr. ARONSON. Mr. Chairman, may I submit, sir, the statement of Mr. Weitzer, our national legislative representative, who was to have testified originally instead of myself? I would like his statement in the record.

The CHAIRMAN. Very well, it may be inserted following your statement.

Proceed, Mr. Aronson.



Mr. ARONSON. Mr. Chairman and members of the Banking and Currency Committee, please permit me to thank you for the privilege of presenting, for your additional consideration, the viewpoint of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States on our national housing problem in general and on H. R. 4009, which you now have before

you for consideration, as a solution to America's most critical domestic problem: housing.

To facilitate the deliberation of this committee on a difficult problem, I shall endeavor to avoid reiteration of what witnesses before me have said on the subject. I have read the statements submitted to you by Mr. Raymond M. Foley, Housing and Home Finance Administrator, and Mr. John Taylor Egan, Public Housing Commissioner. The statements of these two noted men in housing were the result of meticulous and conscientious study, and we of the Jewish War Veterans enthusiastically endorse them for your full consideration. For my own part, I should rather present, briefly, some few observations and recommendations for the strengthening of the present bill and, if permitted, to answer some of the arguments which have been raised against public housing.

We believe that H. R. 4009 is a fine bill. With one major exception, it contains recommendations that meet the hopes of our organization as expressed in its national housing policy adopted at the Fifty-third National Encampment of the Jewish War Veterans with the approval of our national executive committee. H. R. 4009, of course, omits provision for medium-income housing, which we feel is so essential to an intelligent, well-rounded housing policy and program for our country. We feel this omission is a grievous one and we ask you, in your deliberations, to so amend the bill as to meet the needs of those uncounted thousands with medium incomes who will otherwise be forgotten, and whose position without a place to live is just as desperate as that of the people whom the bill was designed to aid.

We believe that H. R. 4009 contains certain inherent and selfdestructive weaknesses which may bear amendment by your committee. One of the most glaring deficiencies is its provision for the 20 percent rental differential between the upper rental ceilings of low-rent public housing and those lowest rentals at which private enterprise is allegedly providing adequate housing. If the bill is to be enacted with such a restriction, we believe it would leave us with a vast multitude of displaced veterans and citizens who would find themselves, and now do find themselves, ineligible to obtain the benefits of public housing while also unable to obtain private housing as well.

Secondly, the proposed program is predicated on a strict dollarcost limitation in a field where everyone is too keenly aware that costs are in a continual state of competition flux. This very type of provision, experience has shown, was basically responsible, years ago, for the failure of construction of housing projects which had already been approved. It could well again be the basis for further failures of construction. It could strongly serve to defeat the very purposes of the national housing policy, so well defined in the bill, by utterly nullifying any implementation of that policy through arbitrary limitations of cost. We believe that the present bill, without this arbitrary limitation, affords sound protection to the people against excessive costs of construction. The bill specifically provides that elaborate or costly designs or materials shall not be used but that cheaper construction shall be made available. Another protection in the bill to possible excessive costs is the provision that average costs, excluding land, demolition, and nondwelling facilities shall not be greater than the average construction costs of dwelling facilities currently produced by private enterprise in a given locality. We believe that these are sufficient safeguards. If we go beyond them, we may well, again, be faced with a situation where building costs may extend just beyond the limitations permitted, and all further construction must necessarily end. This is an eventuality we all seek to avoid, but, I repeat, it is opposed to the very policy which we seek to establish: the construction of housing for those who need it most.

In addition, we of the Jewish War Veterans are against the 5-year limitation for veterans preference. We believe that the veteran just now, perhaps, at the very threshold of his reintegration into the peacetime economy, may need many more years of opportunity to readjust himself fully and completely. We, therefore, submit that the 5-year restriction as to preference is unfair and we urge that it be stricken from the bill. This preference, unquestionably, should be without any period of limitation.

This is the fifth successive year in which the Congress has had the basic principles of H. R. 4000, in one form or another, before it for consideration. Each year they have failed of passage because the people who need housing most have had neither the means nor the influence to dramatize their needs before the public and the Congress. As each of these years has passed, our housing situation has deteriorated to the point where today it is the most critical of our domestic problems and it is causing indescribable hardships to the people in general and the veteran in particular. It now affects the very physical security of hundreds of thousands of veterans, the futures of their marriages, and the futures of their children, the Americans of tomorrow.

In the face of a condition so threatening to the Nation's moral and physical fiber, millions of dollars that might better have been expended on new construction were used instead to manufacture the myth that legislative proposals such as H. R. 4009 are inspired by the Congress of the United States.

In a recent issue of Headlines, the organ of the Realtors' Washington Committee, we find such shocking statements as this:

Three times when the threat of socialized housing, which is again at our door, seemed certain of success, RWC was the spearhead of opposition to it before the committees of Congress. And three times this threatened entry of Government into our business was defeated.

When private enterprise can boast of frustrating the will of vast numbers of the American people, it is playing fast and loose with the representative form of government it professes to cherish. The quotation I have read from the publication of the Realtors' Washington Committee is far more encouraging to enemies of our political system than to millions of Americans born and educated to the devout belief that government is the servant of the people.

It cannot be expected that the selfish and short-sighted opponents of Federal aid to public housing will tender any warmer welcome to H. R. 4009 than they offered to previous proposals of this nature. Now, what are the arguments they will advance against this measure? Their offensive against this bill will strike out in three directions.

First, they will reiterate the familiar thesis that the program envisioned by H. R. 4009 will sound the death knell of private enterprise by diverting building materials and killing incentives for building.

« PreviousContinue »