Page images
PDF
EPUB

being built within price range of low- or even little-incomes families. Only public housing can meet needs of the lower-income groups and wipe out once and for all the slum environment which has been a blot on the boasted American way of life. For private housing developments the urban redevelopment sections of the bill are vital to restore solvency of American cities. Blighted areas must be cleared and rebuilt. We in Pennsylvania are combining State and city action for this purpose. depending on Federal aid to complement our program. I am sure that every public official in the city administration joins me in urging prompt congressional approval of Senate 1070.

DAVID L. LAWRENCE,

Mayor, City of Pittsburgh,
Vice President, the United States Conference of Mayors.

BALTIMORE, Mo., April 12, 1949. PAUL V. BETTERS, United States Conference of Mayors,

Washington, D. C.: Senate housing bill S. 1070 offers best opportunity ever for cities such as Baltimore to carry out hadly needed slum-clearance and redevelopment program. Our plans have been under way for a long time and we now urgently need financial assistance provided in S. 1070. Provision of adequate quantity of low-rent public housing for families of low income absolutely necessary in connection with slumclearance and redevelopment program. Housing shortage in Baltimore still acute. Although high home-building rate in Baltimore area last 2 years, new houses started were 6,000 below increase in family formation. Large proportion of dwellings too high priced for most families. Slight increase available rental units does not meet demand of moderate- and low-income groups, either in quantity or in price. Housing anthority has about 20.000 applications on file. Over 8,000 new applications received at housing anthoriti last year. Recent survey of applicants shows more than two-thirds have toial family incomes below $2,500. Over nine-tenths of all applicants lived under substandard conditions, Fifteen percent of applicants were eviction cases. Poorly housed low-income families in dire need of decent houses constitute bulk of applications on file. Steady flow of new applications is thus good index of continuing need for decent low-rent public housing in Baltimore. Passage of s. 1070 only way to provide for desired goal of slum clearance, redevelopment, and additional good housing for low-income families.

THOMAS D'ALESANDRO, Jr.

Mayor of City of Baltimore,
Chairman of Standing Committee on Legislation,

United States Conference of Mayors.

APRIL 12, 1919. PAUL V. BETTERS,

E.recutive Director, the United States Conference of Mayors. The housing shortage in New York City has been one of our most critical prob lems since the end of the war. Every action open to the city has been taken since January 1, 1946, and we have put under construction the largest program of low-rent housing ever attempted. Despite a record building program, New York City needs the help of the Federal Government to make any real headway in solving its serious problem of housing for families of low income.

The housing and slum-clearance bill reported by the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency is an excellent bill. It offers real hope of decent homes to the Nation's lowest-income group. New York City is prepared to put its share of housing in planning immediately. We have sufficient construction firms and labor to build at least 10,000 apartments each year of the life of this program, in addition to our present ocnstruction program.

New York City recommends approval of the slum-clearance provision now in the Senate bill. Large areas of slums in New York City need clearance and redevelopment. The bill would permit a large amount of such work which could not be done without Federal assistance.

By passing the pending housing bill, Congress will take a positive step toward solving the housing crisis.

WILLIAM O'DWYER, Mayor of New York City.

PHILADELPHIA, PA., April 12, 19.49. Hon. PAUL V. BETTERS,

United States Conference of Mayors. The city of Philadelphia is doing everything humanly possible to re-create here the best possible environment for living and working. Because of financial limitations, it will be necessary to have the assistance of the Federal Government if we are to achieve our high goal of civic improvement.

In the program of redevelopment of old areas, Federal assistance will be necessary in helping to meet the cost.

This same assistance must be forthcoming to solve the problem of production of an adequate quantity and quality of housing for all elements of our population, especially for families of low income.

Better housing conditions and slum clearance, of course, would be reflected in the cost of the operation of our police and fire units. Bright, cheerful homes, and adequate space for recreational activities would go a long way toward reducing delinquency among the youth of the city.

The method for giving us the required Federal assistance will be for Congress to determine.

BERNARD SAMUEL, Mayor of Philadelphin.

DETROIT, MICH., April 12, 1949. PAUL V. BETTERS, United States Conference of Mayors,

Washington, D.C.: Housing shortage Detroit City, estimated at 50,000 families lacking own home, living in rooms, trailers, or with another family. Additional 18.000 dwelling units needing major repairs or lacking water or minimum sanitary facilities. Present waiting list eligible families for public housing 8,700 families is highest ever, despite efforts of local authority to discourage applicants. Expressways, slum clearance, playgrounds, and other public improvements already programed expected dislodge 10,000 families next 5 years, of whom estimated 6,000 eligible public housing. In addition, 6,700 families in temporary war and veterans' housing to be rehoused. Estimated 40,000 families in Detroit have annual income below $2,000 and additional 70,000 between $2,000 and $3,000. Thus, approximately 100,000 families eligible public housing. Immediate need for low-rent housing conservatively estimated 50,000 families. Now have 5,000 permanent public housing units. Seven thousand three hundred and seventy-six private housing started year ending March 1 were only 45 percent previous 12 months. Total new multiples for rent started were 635. Virtually no rental housing built since war rents below $80 per month, 85 percent of it rents $90 or more, median rent available homes over $100. Slum-clearance program essential to preserve city's tax base. City plan commission has designed 2,520 acres in need redevelop ment. Present annual average tax revenue $864 per acre. If privately redeveloped would yield $2,304. Increase would pay city's third net project cost in 10 years. Public housing 10 percent shelter rent in lieu would amount to $700 per acre. Redevelopment 80 percent private, 20 percent public housing, would pay city's share costs in 12 years. Data juvenile delinquency, health, fire costs, and so forth, and more detailed data of above summary air-mailed to you today.

Mayor EUGENE I. VAN ANTWERP, Per JAMES H. INGLIS,

Detroit Housing ('ommission.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF., April 13, 1949. PAUL V. BETTERS, United States Conference of Mayors,

Washington, D. C.: San Francisco housing shortage still acute. No exact data available but vacancies hard to find anywhere in bay area. San Francisco Housing Authority waiting list 3,521 ; 7,700 temporary dwellings and 1,750 low-rent dwellings fully occupied. Housing authority has removed over half of families ineligible because of incomes over income limits; is removing more each month. San Francisco real. property survey 1939 revealed approximately one dwelling of every six was substandard. Ratio today probably about the same. Low-rent housing-market analysis 1945 showed approximately 26,000 families in need. Housing authority contemplates 5,000 new low-rent dwellings if housing bill enacted. This housing essential to relocated families living in areas scheduled for redevelopment. Redevelopment areas expensive to acquire and clear. City will need Federal loans and capital-rent subsidies to enable private enterprise to rebuild in blighted areas. San Francisco planning and housing association, citizen's group 1947, compared same size good and bad neighborhoods. Studies showed the following: Bad neighborhood, 100 juvenile delinquents; 762 public-welfare cases; 4,771 adult arrests. Good neighborhood, 17 juvenile delinquents; 38 public-welfare cases; 39 adult arrests. Bad neighborhood had twice the fires, 36 times as many tuberculosis cases; 66 times as many city hospital cases ; 3 times as many babies died. Municipal services in bad neighborhood cost $750,000; in good neighborhood $86,000. Tax rerenues from bad neighborhood were $370,000; in good neighborhood, S513,000. Bad neighborhood is in area designated for development. Yesterday, April 11, 1949, San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed resolution endorsing S. 1070, Housing Act of 1949.

ELMER E. ROBINSON,
Mayor of San Francisco.

Boston, Jass., pril 13, 1949. PAUL V. BETTERS,

United States ('onference of Jayors: Please record my wholehearted support of S. 1070 which it is expected will reach the Senate floor this week. Boston is 300 years old and possibilities of clearance of substandard areas and erection of new housing for low-income families with Federal aid would be a boon to this city. These twin problems are so great that this city cannot solve its problem alone. The Federal Government with broader tax base is better equipped to give substantial help. Conservative estimates indicate 50,000 substandard homes in Boston out of 210,000 dwelling units or 24 percent, with depreciation and obsolescence growing daily. In this city 14,000 dwellings now standing were built before 1860; 37,000 built before 1880 ; 80,000, or 38 percent, built before the turn of the century. Only one family out of five owns its own home, making Boston a city of rent payers. Whole areas of the city are in need of clearance, replanning, and redevelopment. Boston housing authority in receipt of 21,200 applications for tenancy between VJ-day and November 1948, at which time applications were shut off because of utter inability to offer hope to sorely pressed citizens, great majority of which are veterans with young families. Ten thousand new families formed in this city between decennial censuses of 1930 and 1940 with 10,000 marriages above average in four war years. Vacancies practically nonexistent here. Courts are clogged with eviction cases and are authorized by legislation to grant up to a year leeway before families are required to vacate. I have authorized expenditure of $20,000,000 city funds for housing and State program in Boston authorizes an additional $18,000,000, which together only begins to solve the problem. Boston can use many millions of Federal aid to help in solving its problem. Urge the honorable, the Members of the Senate to pass S. 1070 substantially as written. Would, however, request that construction cost limits, which finally made United States Housing Act of 1937 unworkable, not be included in legislation. Better that such limits be tied to regional construction costs limits or left to administrative discretion. This is an excellent opportunity for the Senate to enact legislation to provide homes for good Americans, and thus bulwark the Nation against inroads of atheistic communism which nurtures where poor housing conditions exist.

JAMES M. CURLEY, Mayor of Boston, Boston, Mass.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. PAUL V. BETTERS, United States Conference of Mayors,

Washington, D. C.: Estimate need for 3,000 additional units in Milwaukee to ease housing shortige. Estimate additional 35,000 units needed to replace substandard units. Approximately 20,000 units should be low rent. Without Federal aid it is impossible to build housing for those families which are low income. In 2 weeks time received almost 4,000 active applications for 578 units of veterans' permanent housing; also have received almost 1,000 applications for 232 low-rent slum-clearance units. City has almost exhausted its own resources in building veterans' permanent housing. Seventeen thousand veterans' applications on file with Red Cross bureau. Approximately 30 percent of city is blighted. Average weekly wage of skilled labor about $60, meaning worker can afford only $6,000 home. Lowest cost house at present level about $7,000, effectively blocking individual ownership because banks won't lend. Private rental units are $90 monthly and up. Greatest need in 50 to 60 bracket. Private builders not interested in slum clearance unless with Government subsidy. Present vacancy rate about four-tenths of 1 percent.

FRANK P. ZEIDLER,
Mayor of Milwaukee.

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 12, 1949. PAUL V. BETTERS,

United States Conference of Mayors, Washington, D. C.: Kansas City has at present no public housing program. We are greatly in need of such enabling legislation. Housing authority and city plan commission estimate need for 1,500 units low-rent public housing. Kansas City's blighted areas cost city approximately 45 percent of city service costs and contribute only 6 percent real-estate-tax revenue. It is estimated 33 percent of population resides in blighted areas which account for 5 times city average of TB cases, 6 times the juvenile delinquency cases, 3 times the fire calls, and 10 times the police calls above the city average. Sixty-nine and nine-tenths percent of commitments to local penal institutions are of persons residing in these areas and 74 percent of all new parole and probation cases are from same districts.

Mayor WILLIAM E. KEMP.

CINCINNATI, OHIO, April 13, 19.19. Col. PAUL V. BETTERS,

Washington, D. C.: Housing shortage here dangerous and unabated so far as low-income families are concerned. Overcrowding in this group at all-time high. Need estimated at four or five thousand low-rent public housing units during next few years. Our public health federation studies show white mortality in our slums three times higher for tuberculosis, pneumonia, and home accidents than in rest of city. In one of our slum-clearance projects, Laurel Homes, tuberculosis, pneumonia, infant mortality rate, crime rate, and fires per 1,000 dwellings less than for city as a whole.

ALBERT D. Cash, Mayor,

NEWARK, N. J., April 13, 1949. PAUL BETTERS,

United States Conference of Mayors, Washington, D. C.: Newark has 118,550 dwelling units of which 38,423 are of slum character. Of our 44,451 residential structures, 4,718 are not fit for human habitation; 98,041 units are occupied by renters, 27.6 percent of our residential structures were constructed before 1900, and 41.1 between 1900 and 1919. Average rental of units in Newark is $33.36. Nineteen percent rent for less than $20 per month per unit and 31.6 rent for between $20 and $30 per month. Only 4,000 private units constructed since 1930 and 3,000 public units, About 8 percent of Newark area occupied by substandard dwellings and total habitable area is only 20 square miles practically none of which is vacant land. Estimated present population, 480,000. We need 10,000 additional low-cost units and 15.000 additional units for moderate-income families. These cannot be supplied without first clearing land by slum elimination.

Mayor VINCENT J. MURPHY.

SEATTLE, WASH., April 13, 1949. PAUL V. BETTERS,

United States Conference of Mayors: 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 $10 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,
Mayor, City of Seattle.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINX., April 12, 1949. PAUL V. BETTERS, United States Conference of Mayors,

Washington, D. C.: Four years after the war the housing shortage still exists in Minneapolis. Many examples of suffering and crowding still remain. The office of the housing administrator has a backlog of 2,200 applicants for housing. Sixty percent of these applicants are members of the marginal income group, with an annual income below $3,000. Ceiling prices of old homes have not decreased sufficiently for members of this group to make purchases, nor are they capable of buying new houses. The city welfare department with many indigent and others unable to command housing, is hard put to find shelter for those on relief. Families of six and eight people are often housed in hotel rooms.

Veterans' groups are grateful for the temporary housing which was established in Minneapolis. However, the discomforts of such housing are more evocative of wartime life than the years of peace. Upon these veterans will fall the continued problems of housing unless permanent housing is provided for them and other people in Minneapolis.

Three thousand six hundred and seventy persons now occupy temporary housing units ; 2,045 of this group are children, inheritors of the suffering indigenous to life among the prefabs and temporary housing units.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 low-rent housing units are needed in Minneapolis. The import of the term “low rent" is best exemplified in the statistics of a survey made by the Minneapolis Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The surveyed area included a blighted section on the near north side of Minneapolis. A income group pays $38 per month rent in this area; B income group pays $30; and C income group, comprising one-fifth of the entire group, pays $21 per month. However, slum clearance cannot be effected without appropriate plans in hand for the establishment of low-rent housing units in the area cleared. Such a program of clearance and of redevelopment is hamstrung in Minneapolis by the lack of Federal funds. The tragedy of this situation is that substandard dwellings will have to remain to provide shelter. Such inadequate shelter has always been the breeding ground of juvenile delinquency. Families who live in such homes are highly susceptible to disease, just as they also become susceptible to criminal activities. Poor housing leads in part to increased cost in maintaining penitentiaries. Three statistics on the Sumner field housing project show that since the establishment of the project the number of fires in the area decreased one-third. Dollar loss per fire decreased between 1940 and 1948 to $36 per fire, as compared to $193 in the area previous to redevelopment. Police cost in the area dropped 90 percent. Prof. Stuart Chapin of the department of sociology at the University of Minnesota in his survey of the project in 1940 pointed out that people living in the Sumner field units developed twice as much social participation in the civic affairs of the neighborhood and city. This increased not only the moral tone of the city but the lives of these people. This comparison was made in terms of the people occupying substandard shelter in surrounding blighted areas.

The need for low-rent housing should be considered primarily in terms of the American principle of preserving American family life. Home life is the basis of family life, and the destruction of family life spiritually and materially has too often been caused in the years since the war by inadequate dwellings. Sincerely yours,

ERIO G. HOYER, Mayor.

« PreviousContinue »