« PreviousContinue »
DEAR BERNARD : With reference to the amendment which you propose to public housing title of 1070, it was felt by the subcommittee in writing the bill that it would be a mistake to write a specific requirement into the law which would require a survey in every instance. The feeling was that voluntary action by the local housing authorities could be obtained in providing a certain number of facilities.
You will recall that in New York it is done simply by action of the local authorities rather than by statutory requirement. Please know that I think consideration should be given in all of these public housing projects to the need for a certain number of units for wheelchair cases. If I can do anything to cooperate with you to this end, I shall be glad to do so. With best wishes and kindest personal regards, I am, Sincerely,
John SPARK MAN. Our purpose in coming before this committee today was to ask that you might make some statement concerning this in the report on the bill. We agree with Senator Sparkman wholeheartedly that it is a good idea to leave as much administration in local hands as possible, rather than centralizing it, and if some statement could be made in the report on the bill, to help local administrators see that it was agreeable with Congress to have such things provided, where the Administrator isn't too familiar with this sort of thing, I think it would be a great deal of assistance.
We are thinking not only of the service-controlled veterans who are paralyzed, but also of some 80,000 civilians whom the Public Health Service tells us are in the same category as we are.
Those of us getting housing under Public Law 702 of the last Congress have found that it has increased our usefulness, our happiness, and our general welfare.
Mr. Brown. Was your idea incorporated in the Senate report?
Mr. SHUFELT. No; there was no remark made in the Senate report, Senator Sparkman wrote me this letter after the report was prepared, and nothing was said about putting it in the report and that idea did not come up until after that report had been printed.
Mr. Brown. Personally, I think that is the way to meet the problem, to place it in the report.
Mr. SHUFELT. I think if it were placed in the report, it would meet our need a hundred percent.
The CHAIRMAN. There is nothing in the bill to prevent that, is there?
Mr. SHUFELT. No, there is nothing in the bill to prevent it, and it would be left up to the local authority. If the report says that Congress is interested in this sort of thing, and gives the local authority the go-ahead sign, if they decide that it is needed, then, I think the problem would be met completely.
The CHAIRMAN. We are very glad to have your views, gentlemen, and I am sure they will be considered by the committee.
Mr. SHUFELT. Thank you.
Mr. Gillespie, identify yourself and proceed.
COUNCIL HOUSING COMMITTEE, YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO
Mr. GILLESPIE. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is John J. Gillespie, and I come here in behalf of the United Veterans Council housing committee of which I am the chairman, Youngstown, Ohio.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed, Mr. Gillespie.
Mr. GILLESPIE. Mr. Chairman and members of the Banking and Currency Committee, thank you for this opportunity to outline the housing needs of Youngstown, Ohio, the hub of the third largest steelproducing area in the United States.
The United Veterans Council, an organization composed of 25 veteran posts, has taken the leadership in finding out just how bad the situation is insofar as housing is concerned.
In December of last year our mayor, Charles P. Henderson, at the suggestion of the United Veterans Council, appointed a committee to take a housing survey. The city council.appropriated $200 for survey cards and 470 enumerators volunteered their services. Considering the fact that the interviews were made 3 weeks before the Christmas holiday, I think that this is ample proof of Youngstown's sense of civic responsibility. The survey disclosed the following interesting figures.
Of Youngstown's estimated 43,000 dwelling units, 62 percent, or 26,660 are owner-occupied and 16,340 are tenant-occupied.
The survey indicated that 7,740 families are living doubled up, 4,720 of whom will buy a home if it can be purchased for $7,000; 3,020 families will rent if accommodations can be found for $40 a month. Three bedrooms are needed for the average house-hunting family.
Of Youngstown's estimated 20,000 veterans of World War II, 4 percent would rent a home for $45 a month. Sixteen percent would buy a house costing no more than $6,300, with a monthly payment of $50. One-eighth of all the veterans can pay $8,000 for a home.
These disclosures indicate that 18 percent of Youngstown's 43,000 families are living doubled up. In my opinion this is ample proof that only through the enactment of a long-range public-housing program can our needs be met. This can best be accomplished by the passage of H. R. 4009.
The preceding housing report by Mayor Henderson's committee has been submitted to bring forth the situation of the housing shortage with respect to those families in the lower income levels, whose financial conditions is such that their only possible solution of the housing shortage rests with low-cost public rental housing made available with aid of the United States Government. However, it is my opinion that attempts should also be made by the United States Congress to find ways and means for those families, not in the immediate lowincome group, to purchase their own homes with loans made available to them over a longer period of years at payment rates which they would be able to handle without undue financial strain and thus further handicap the welfare of their families. The details with respect to this latter group are as follows:
In the city of Youngstown, Ohio, The United Veterans Council became concerned over the housing plight of returned World War II veterans and in July, 1948, organized a "Veterans' Housing Committee” which made an investigation and study of the veterans' needs in Youngstown, Ohio. Upon completion of this investigation, an organization of veterans was formed for purposes of attempting to alleviate their own housing problems through mass purchasing and systematic construction of at least 100 individual housing units in Youngstown, Ohio. The organization is managed by veteran mem
bers as directors and officers with the ultimate goal of providing for the organization's membership, homes at cost and at the best possible price insofar as quality and value are concerned. This organization represents a united effort by World War II veterans to pool their buying power and thus obtain through considerable volume adequate housing at a price which they can afford to pay. This group looks forward to immediate individual home ownership.
This organization contacted and interviewed 320 World War II veterans who were and still are in immediate need of housing. Of this group; it was found that 226 were financially unable to cope with the financing of an individually owned home and that 94 families may be able to do so providing favorable and reasonable mortgage loans can be obtained.
Statistics have been compiled with respect to these 94 families and are made a part of this report. The 94 participating members of this organization are listed in $500 brackets, which are representative of 21/2 times each member's annual basic wage. This amount is used in accordance with bankers' policies that a home owner should not purchase a home at a cost which exceeds 212 times his annual basic wage, which policies are usually made a basis for consideration of a longterm mortgage loan. The 94 members are a cross section of employees in the city of Youngstown, Ohio, and cover all types of employees in all types of local industry.
The compilation further indicates that there are 120 children involved, all of whom are vitally affected personally as are also many other children in similar circumstances throughout the United States. It can be seen that an over-all average of 113 children per home, spread over the entire United States, represents a very considerable part of the future foundation for the continued existence of our country during times of international stress. Were it not for the present bleak outlook caused by insufficjent housing units, this foundation could be more than 11/2 children per family unit and would thus provide greater security for the entire country in future years. Only through adequate and proper housing can this type of security be accomplished and maintained.
The statistical part of this report further indicates that for proper housing requirements, these families need 2, 3, and 4 bedroom homes. In this locality, quality housing cannot be obtained for much less than an average cost of $2,250 per room with the net result being that a house consisting of kitchen, bath, living room, and two bedrooms will cost approximately $9,000. In order to be able to purchase this minimum home as an individual, the owner must make at least $300 per month to qualify under the loan restrictions for house purchase which limit the house cost to 212 times the purchaser's annual basic wage. It is evident that many persons in a group such as exists in Youngstown, Ohio, would be able to use some type of Federal aid to stimulate and encourage individual home construction and ownership without sole recourse to public housing.
This statistical summary further shows that under the continued high costs of living which must be endured by veterans since their discharge from the armed forces, they have not been able to accumulate any substantial down payments toward the purchase of their own homes. This situation is certainly no fault of any veteran and can be construed to be a direct result of his having been defending his country rather than being in a position to accumulate his earnings as a civilian and to use such accumulations toward the purchases of an individually owned home. The veterans' position continues to be one of financial sacrifice.
The statistical section of this report should also be noted insofar as ages of veterans who are members of the Youngstown organization and who are in need of housing is concerned. Of the group of 94 members, it should be noted that 82 men are 26 years and over in age. Had it not been for their military services during World War II, it can be definitely assumed that the majority of these men would have been able to purchase their own homes before housing prices were permitted to become subject to the current inflationary trends. Again, it is my opinion that consideration should be given by the United States Congress to the problems of veterans whose families are in dire need of housing, due to no fault of the veterans or their families.
The loan provisions of the GI bill of rights is admitted to have been a long step toward fulfilling the housing needs of the returning veterans prior to the current inflationary spiral when mortgage loans were available at 4 percent Government guaranteed loans. However, it is an admitted fact that GI loan sources are practically “dried up” on a Nation-wide basis as are also long-term loans which result in lower monthly amortization charges. This drying up of loan sources appears to be in part directly attributable to inflationary trends.
It is my request that the United States Congress give special attention to the needs of World War II veterans, organized for purposes of volume construction of homes for individual ownership such as is the veterans' organization in Youngstown, Ohio, and such other organizations which are being organized by united effort of other veteran groups in the United States. Such groups through their united and cooperative spirit can provide for their own homes at a current minimum cost with the aid of the United States Government. It is my opinion that this aid should be in the form of direct loans to veterans housing associations at interest rates slightly in excess of the Federal Reserve Bank interest rates and with further provision for amortization of loans over a longer period of years than that available elsewhere at this time. By extending the period of loan amortization, and making more favorable interest terms, millions of World War II veterans, who are ineligible to participate in low cost public rental units, will be able to purchase their own homes. The housing shortage problems of World War II veterans, be they of the lower, medium, or higher income groups, warrant immediate and favorable action by the United States Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you for your statement, Mr. Gillespie.
(The following statement was submitted for inclusion in the record :)
STATEMENT OF ARTHUR I. MARCUS, AMERICAN LEGION, STATE OF WISCONSIN
My name is Arthur I. Marcus, chief housing investigator, and expediter, State of Wisconsin, Department of the American Legion and also a member of the national housing committee of the American Legion. As the only member of the Legion's national housing committee who has served over the past 3-year period, I believe that I am qualified to review some of its findings.
As a member of this committee, I participated in numerous and extensive hearings throughout the United States of the whole problem of housing, particularly in relation to the plight of our returning veterans. During the course of our investigations we heard the statements of many leading realtors and home builders, of material men, and of representatives of the Nation's largest home financing institutions. These private interests then claimed that if Government controls of the building industry were lifted, and if they were given a free hand in the production of housing, they would satisfactorily meet the housing needs of all the American people and particularly the needs of returning veterans. These private building interests strenuously objected to public housing of any kind or form.
At the conclusion of our investigations 2 years ago our committee adopted a resolution in opposition to public housing, being guided and influenced by the appa rent sincerity of the many leaders in the private housing field. I am appearing here today to state the consensus of the members of this committee, that the position we then took was the wrong position and that we should have supported public housing. The Legion as a whole, which opposed public housing following our report, has also reversed its opinion. As you know, the American Legion at its most recent national convention endorsed Federal legislation for slum clearance and low-rent housing.
This change in position by the former members of the Legion Committee and by the National Legion is a result of 2 years of bitter experience which has completely disillusioned us regarding ability of the private home-building interests to take care of the housing needs of low-income families. Millions of veterans of low income are still living in slums, or substandard temporary housing provided by the Government for emergency' use. These shocking housing conditions are imperiling their family life. Families are being broken up and the divorce rate among World War II veterans has shown an alarming increase. The cost of the past war, both in human misery and in Federal expenditures, is still being aug. mented by the backlog of mental and physical ill health which is directly trace able to unsatisfactory living conditions and broken families.
There is no prospect for the alleviation of the living conditions of such families of low-income veterans through waiting year after year for private enterprise to make good its promises. We must have action now and that action must be through the passage of public-housing and slum-clearance legislation. Unless such quick action is taken the unhappy generation that started its adult life during the depression followed by a world conflict may face a more unhappy and insecure future.
I am sure that the other members of the former American Legion committee will join me in the unqualified support of bill H. R. 4009 now before your committee.
The bill is wholly American in its objectives and in its methods. All rightthinking unselfish Americans believe the surest foundation of our American democracy lies in the proper provision of an American standard of living for all of our people.
The ripest candidate for membership in the Communist Party today is a veteran living in the slums and denied any' prospect of a decent family life which is his true American heritage. If we are to continue to support the principles on which this Nation is founded, we must give every family a fair chance at the opportunities which the greatness of our country makes possible.
We believe that H. R. 4009 embodies all necessary provisions to assure the correction of the shameful conditions under which millions of our citizens, both veteran and nonveteran, now are forced to live--if such can properly be called living—we believe the word should be "existing.”
It is our conviction that the Housing and Home Finance Agency, under the able leadership of its Administrator, Raymond M. Foley, and the Public Housing Administration, under the highly qualified leadership of its Commissioner, John Taylor Egan, can put the provisions of this bill into successful and speedy operation.
(Whereupon, at 11:25 a. m., the committee recessed, to reconvene at 10 a. m., Tuesday, April 26, 1949.)