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Mr. Cox. Yes, sir; families, and absolute minimum.
Mr. Cox. Well, I doubt it, sir. I asked some of the communities around the country to give me some indication of what their needs were and I have received in the last 48 hours a number of telegrams and letters from the various housing authorities, and I have them all here. I do not wish to burden the record with all of them, but I would be glad to read any of them to you.
Mr. COLE. I do not believe they would help particularly; do you?
Mr. Cox. Well, they clearly indicate that the Norfolk situation is by no means an exception.
Mr. NICHOLSON. How much would you estimate it would cost to take care of the slums of Norfolk? What did you say the population was, again?
Mr. Cox. Approximately 220,000. Estimates range from 215,000 to 240,000.
Mr. NICHOLSON. And what would you estimate it would cost to clear out the slums of Norfolk?
Mr. Cox. I do not have an estimate on that as yet, sir. As I explained to Mr. Cole, we are in the process now of preparing a redevelopment and housing program for the community, with the aid of a consulting firm, engaged with funds made available by the city council to the housing and redevelopment authority, and when that study is completed, we will then have a better knowledge of the problem of cost.
Mr. NICHOLSON. You have no idea?
Mr. Cox. Not in terms of dollars and cents, sir. I know this: That, based on the 1940 housing census, there were some 15,000 out of the then 38,000 dwelling units in Norfolk that were substandard for one
-9 out of 11 of our Negro houses and 1 out of 4 of our white houses.
Mr. NICHOLSON. Well, the colored population in Norfolk is pretty heavy; is it not?
Mr. Cox. At that time it was about a third of the population. Today it is a little less. It would be approximately the same, I would say. We do not have a current census on that.
Mr. BUCHANAN. How many colored families are in this project?
Mr. Brown. During the war were not the prevailing rents in the city of Norfolk rather high?
Mr. Cox. During the war Norfolk was under rent control, as, I believe, most communities affected as much as we were by the war effort were. The prevailing rents in the community were not much higher than they were prior to the war because of that reason. We were an area which had a very heavy concentration of war activity.
Mr. Brown. I know some people complained to me that they were paying higher rents than anywhere in the United States except Washington. That was reported to me by people who worked there during the war. While they received good wages, because of high rent their take-home pay was small.
Mr. McKinnon. Mr. Cox, how do you go about determining this 20-percent differential? Suppose the Public Housing Authority wanted to set up, in a community, a project, and they had to prove that
or more causes
their project would maintain this 20-percent differential. How do you go about that?
Mr. Cox. Under the present law there is no requirement for that differential. Under H. R. 4009 there is.
Mr. MCKINNON. That is what I mean.
Mr. Cox. As I understand the law, sir, you would go about it by determining the floor of private enterprise, first, which would be the minimum rent at which private enterprise was providing an adequate supply of decent housing in the community. Then, you would establish the maximum
Mr. McKinnon. Well, right there, how do you determine that floor of private-enterprise availability?
Mr. Cox. On the basis of factual information of what is charged in terms of rents in the community, which, in any community, local people can very easily obtain.
Mr. McKINNON. Does that not vary an awful lot? How do you establish a mean?
Mr. Cox. You mean vary within the community?
Mr. McKinnon. Yes. Take a given community, for example. You will find a great variation in rents. One place may rent for $20 a month, another for $40, another for $50. How much availability do you have to have to establish that floor that private enterprise serves? How do you draw the line? How do you determine the floor?
Mr. Cox. Well, you determine it, as I understand the language of 'the act, by using your best judgment and so arrive at the minimumnot the average, but the minimum-at which private enterprise is furnishing an adequate supply. Then, you would apply the 20 percent factor to that minimum figure. I do not think the act is intended to give you the privilege of arriving at the average rent for decent private housing in the community. And I think appropriately so.
Mr. McKinnon. Do you not think that you would, to a certain degree, prevent low-income housing construction because in almost every community you can find very low rents here and there, for a three- or four-room house?
Mr. Cox. I think that whatever you found in the community would control. And if a community is providing a substantial-here is the way the law reads: at which private enterprise, unaided by public subsidy, is providing through new construction and available existing, a substantial supply of decent, safe, and sanitary housing toward meeting the need of an adequate volume thereof. If private enterprise were providing a substantial supply of standard housing at very low rents, rents within the means of low-income families, then, there would be no need in that community for a subsidized low-rent housing program. I do not know of any community, however, where that situation exists today.
Mr. McKinnon. Do you think the limit set up in the bill, of $2,500 cost of construction per room, is realistic?
Mr. Cox. I think it is realistic, sir; $2,500, as I understand it, has the effect of the absolute ceiling. The practical ceiling is $1,750 per room, and the Administrator is given a latitude here, so that under exceptional circumstances he may exceed that by as much as $750.
Mr. McKINNON. Do you think it is enough?
Mr. Cox. I believe it is, sir. I believe it is a realistic figure.
Mr. O'HARA. Mr. C'ox, you have emphasized, in your testimony, that the enactment of this legislation will help needy families. The needy families that would be helped include both white and Negro families, I presume. Mr. Cox. Yes, sir.
Mr. O'Hara. Have you any estimate to give as to the percentage of needy Negro families that would be helped by the enactment of this legislation?
Mr. Cox. Well, if the past experience, the experience under the United States Housing Act of 1937 is an indication, the percentage of needy Negro families helped by this law is greater, far greater, than the percentage of Negro population to the white population of the country, and that, I might say, is especially true in the Southern States.
Mr. O'Hara. At the present time, what is the percentage of Negro tenants in public housing projects?
Mr. Cox. Sir, I do not have that figure. I would be delighted to get it and submit it to you. I do not have it with me.
Mr. O'Hara. Have you any idea as to the approximate number of needy Negro families who would be benefited by this legislation during the next 5 years? Could you make any estimate?
Mr. Cox. Of the 1,050,000 homes anticipated under this act, notwithstanding the fact that the Negro population of this country is about 10 percent of the total population, I would say that the proportion of this program that would benefit the Negro population would certainly be three, four, or five times the percentage of Negro population to the white population.
Mr. O'Hara. Then, it is a fair presumption that anything which might peril the enactment of this legislation would react upon that Negro population, those needy Negro families who would be benefited by the enactment of the legislation; is that correct, sir?
Mr. Cox. To a much greater degree than the white population.
Mr. O'HARA. I am asking these questions, Mr. Cox, because I am sincerely interested in the welfare of our Negro population. Without any quarrel with any of my distinguished colleagues, I happen to have been born in an enviroment where there was no concept of racial feeling, and I want, in my own small way, to advance in every way that I can the betterment of that segment of our population, and that is why I ask these questions, to get some idea of the rebound upon the people that I wish to befriend, of anything which might peril the enactment of this legislation. Thank you very much.
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Cox, you have received some letters from the Seattle area. I wonder if it would be all right with you if I requested that they be inserted in the record at this point? I think they have meaning in this hearing.
Mr. Cox. In terms of the need?
Mr. Cox. I will be glad to.
Mr. MITCHELL. I request permission to insert those in the record at this point, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, that may be done. (The documents referred to are as follows:)
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE,
Seattle 4, Wash., April 21, 1949. Mr. LAWRENCE M. Cox, Erecutive Director, Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority,
Norfolk, Va. DEAR LARRY : This is in response to John Ducey's wire asking that certain information on housing need in Seattle be sent you by April 23 in time for your use before the House Committee on Banking and Currency.
Enclosed are copies of wires which Mayor Devin recently sent to Paul Betters and Senator Humphrey in response to requests from them for similar information. With reference to the data included in the wires concerning the VFW rental housing survey, the enclosed analysis prepared by Warner Shippee, our research director, makes more explicit the fact that there is a continuing acute shortage of private rental housing in Seattle at contract rents of $60 or under. No new private rental housing at rentals under $60 has come on the market here in the past several years.
The figure of 8,839 families in need of rental units under $40 per month is our best present estimate and is based on the latest available data. We are currently engaged in studies which wil give us more accurate estimates. The figure was arrived at as follows: As of August 1948 there were 1,089 families with incomes of less than $2,500 per year living in war and veteran public temporary projects under our jurisdiction. Of the total of 14,750 substandard units (lacking private baths or in need of major repairs, or both) disclosed by the Greater Seattle Housing Market Survey of May 1948, 5,300 were occupied by tenant families of two to six persons. In addition, it is estimated that there are a minimum of 150 families doubled up in substandard units and 2,300 veteran families doubled up in standard units. To recapitulate: Low-income families in public temporaries.
1, 089 Private substandard tenant-occupied units--
5, 300 Doubled-up families in private substandard units.
150 Additional doubled-up veteran families----
2, 300 Families in need of low-rent public housing
8, 839 Regarding our waiting list, the number of applicants on our list on April 15 totaled 911. This list is kept current monthly, so the figure does not include any “dead wood.” Further, since the first of the year we have continued to have an average of 120 new applications per week.
Of the 1,655 persons who applied during the first quarter: 18 percent had no housing in the locality; 37.5 percent were occupying housing not designed for family use ; 27 percent were doubled up with other families or relatives ; 10 percent were forced to move; and 7.5 percent were occupying substandard or other housing.
Since we accept applications for our temporary projects only—which are, of course, the least desirable housing—and since the waiting period is rather long, particularly on the larger units, our waiting list undoubtedly represents only the most acute need. Applications are accepted in spite of the size of the waiting list, but only after veteran status and housing need is clearly established and the adverse factors, such as the temporary character of the housing and he probable waiting period, has been fully explained to the applicant. We do not make any effort to encourage applications from anyone who is not in a position of serious need.
I hope this information will be of some help to you. If there is anything further we can do for you, please don't hesitate to wire us-we'll do our best. I am taking the liberty of sending a copy of this letter to Congressman Hugh B. Mitchell, who represents this district and who serves on the House Banking and Currency Committee. (See attached letter from Mitchell to Muriel Mawer.) Good luck. I know you'll do a grand job. Sincerely yours,
CHARLES W. Ross,
Mr. PAUL V. BETTERS,
Washington, D. C.: Re your telegram recent Seattle market survey completed this year by city and University of Washington, shows 14,750 substandard units in Seattle proper of which 5,300 are tenant occupied by families of two to six persons. Recent study by Seattle housing authority based on figures revealed in market survey sets need for units to rent under $40 per month conservatively at 8,839. In contrast to this need, survey conducted early this year by VFW shows that of 261 units, one to three rooms, advertised for rent, 74 percent rented for $50 or more, while of 241 units, four to six rooms, 94 percent rented for $60 or more. Our authority still receiving 120 applications weekly on average from veterans unable to afford market price for decent housing. In light of these facts need for slum clearance to wipe out substandard housing and construction of housing for low income appears obvious. Best wishes to you in your efforts to get facts before Senate.
WILLIAM F. DEVIN,
APRIL 13, 1919. Hon. HUBERT H. HUMPHREY,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C.: Re your telegram, housing shortage here still serious, particularly in moderate and low-priced rental units. Recent survey this year by VFW shows of 261 units, one to three rooms, advertised for rent, 74 percent rented for $50 or more, while 241 units, four to six rooms, 94 percent rented for $60 or more. These figures are for rental housing now available. Six hundred and eight and other new rental housing coming on market are scheduled to rent from $75 up. Recent survey by Seattle housing authority sets actual need in Seattle proper for units to rent under $40 conservatively at 8,839. As further indication Seattle housing authority still receiving average of 120 applications per week for temporary housing from veterans who are without adequate housing because of inability to afford market price. Need for slum clearance and low-rent public housing further shown in Seattle market survey completed by city and University of Washington in September 1948 which shows 14,750 substandard units in city proper. Of these, 5,300 are tenant-occupied by families of two to six persons. In Yesler Terrace, the only low-rent slum clearance project city has, per capita fire loss in 1947 was only 39 cents as compared to $1.39 for city as whole and $4.78 national average. Since terrace was opened in 1941 we have not had one single case of serious juvenile delinquency or vandalism. In my opinion no question of value of low-rent public housing and slum clearance in terms of city economy and community benefits. Our own experience proves its effectiveness and present housing situation indicates slum clearance and low-rent housing legislation essential to adequate solution of housing problem and effective city planning.
WILLIAM F. DEVIN,
Mayor, City of Seattle. Mr. MITCHELL. Thank you. The CHAIRMAN. Are there further questions? (No response.) The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much for your testimony, Mr. Cox. We are very glad to have your views on the subject.
Mr. Cox. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. At this point there will be inserted in the record the testimony of Mr. Philip Schiff representing the American Association of Social Workers, National Association of Jewish Center Workers, and the American Association of Group Workers. Also a statement submitted for the National Federation of Settlements, Inc., by John McDowell.
(The documents referred to are as follows:)