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(The above information is from Summary of County Government Finances in 1946, April 1948, a Census Bureau publication.)
I bring this material to your attention, Mr. Chairman, only because I want to show the relationship of county debt to State debt and municipal debt, and how they are definitely related to the existing debt of the Federal Government per capita.
I call your attention specifically, Mr. Chairman, to the chart with the three columns. Note that the local per capita debt is $102, the State per capita debt is $25, both lower than in 1940. Observe, however, that the Federal per capita debt is $1,721. That's $6,800 for the average family as compared to $100 the average family owes the State and $108 it owes the local community.
This relationship clearly shows that communities and States are in much better financial shape to undertake their own slum clearance and public housing projects, if they want them, than is the Federal Government. Especially is this true in view of the present world unrest, and evidenced by the increased appropriations thus far this year in light of an apparent deflationary spiral now being bolstered by Federal Reserve Board action.
Housing assistance for needy families is now being given on a Nation-wide scale, in every locality. It is given through the community's welfare agencies, public and private. The housing aid thus given is not aid to housing, nor aid to the producer of housing. It is housing aid directly to the family. According to national authorities on welfare work, public and private, practically all relief cases in either public or private welfare work, if for other than short-term emergency aid, are budgeted to include aid for housing.
Mr. Chairman, do you know that in the one short month of February this year, which is the latest for which information is available, the Federal Security Administration, Bureau of Public Assistance, tells us that 2,528,248 persons (only a few being couples), received an average of $12.90 a month or a total of $108,474,564 for old-age assistance.
In the same month 496,081 families received an average of $73.31 in aid to dependent children. These were direct Federal aids. That totals $147,982,696, for February. On a year-round average, about $1,600,000,000. State and county assistance in addition amounted to $22,048,000, an average of $47.86 a case.
And finally, Mr. Chairman, we have heard much about the "mandate of the people.” Actually the people themselves had an opportunity to vote on this issue of public housing in only one State at last November's election. That was in California which went to Mr. Truman, yet its people voted 2 to 1 against public housing. Senator Knowland said in the Congressional Record April 21, 1919 :
* * I invite the attention of Senators to the fact that on this issue [public housing] the "yes" vote was 1,042,089; the "no" vote was 2,373,646. There are 58 counties in California. The issue lost in all 58 counties, including the 4 metropolitan counties of the State.
This issue was an initiative constitutional amendment which would create a State housing agency, authorize the State to guarantee obligations of, and furnish operating subsidies to, public housing authorities, expenditures for such purposes not to exceed $25,000,000 annually. It would authorize State bonds up to $100,000,000 to finance State loans to public housing authorities and private nonprofit housing associations; bond principal and interest to be paid from State tax revenues. It prescribed State and local government powers, eminent domain, and other powers of the housing authorities. It regulated taxation of the housing authority property and exempted local housing authority bonds from taxation.
Thus you can readily see, Mr. Chairman, that the California bill which was defeated by the only public referendum on this issue in the November election, was much the same pattern as one section of the bill before the committee title II.
In North Carolina this year the State legislature twice defeated public housing legislation. Missouri has defeated it twice, Wyoming and Utah likewise have voted against public housing in their State legislatures. Minnesota provided that a local referendum must be held for public housing, unless totally financed by Federal funds. Colorado's Legislature also declined to pass public housing legislation.
With the people's representatives at the State level reflecting a true mandate upon the specific subject of public housing in California, North Carolina, Missouri, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Minnesota, one wonders from just whom and where the so-called mandate or pressure for this legislation actually comes.
State public housing has already passed in Pennsylvania and is awaiting Governor Duff's signature. It provides that either public or private groups can construct housing for low-income groups, specifically limits the rent range, and provides State assistance.
New York State has had its own public housing program for a number of years and its housing commissioner, Herman Stitchman, has stated in public that he is opposed to Federal public housing.
Massachusetts also has a State housing program which it set up specifically for veterans.
I heard Representative John Taber say at a public meeting the other evening that in his State of New York public housing was being cannibalized and in several sections of the State units were standing empty and deteriorating.
Twenty miles from the Capitol dome a public housing project at Indian Head, Md., has been standing empty for more than 2 years exposed to the elements, windows broken, doors smashed, bathroom and kitchen equipment stripped. Most of you know that we have people commuting distances as far as Baltimore for want of a place to live. Those units, I am advised, were sold very recently at an average of $500. They cost more than $3,000 each.
In Peoria, Ill., public housing units were advertised for rent in the want-ad columns. At Savannah, Ga., whole projects stood weed grown and deteriorating while the local housing authority published an elaborate report entitled “Oglethorpe Was Right.” It stated, and I quote:
Not only will radio outlets be provided for every tenant, but the authority is lookiug ahead to the day when television becomes as commonplace as the telephone. Costs of television equipment will be studied so that sets may be installed when practical.
I took occasion to go down to Indian Head, Md., Mr. Chairman, and took pictures of this public housing. I have three or four pictures and I want to point out what it is like.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Is that public housing or war housing?
Mr. SNYDER. It is public housing under the jurisdiction of the Public Housing Administration.
Mr. BUCHANAN. It was constructed as war housing under the Lanham Act.
Mr. SNYDER. It is still consigned to the Public Housing Administration for administration. My point is administration, not ownership.
Mr. BUCHANAN. You ought to be a little more specific, do you not think?
Mr. PATMAN. Was that project not built to serve a war plant?
Mr. SNYDER. Not only to serve a war plant, but to take care of the people working in the war plant.
Mr. PATMAN. Was the war plant closed ?
Mr. SNYDER. The war plant is still operating, but on a reduced seale, of course.
Mr. PATMAN. Well, that would not necessarily cause the buildings to become vacant.
Mr. SNYDER. That is a very good point, and it is exactly the point I should like to make, Mr. Patman, because these buildings not only have been vacant, but they have been standing 2 years, deteriorating, and have been allowed to be exposed to the elements, when, as you can see, they are demountable units that could be moved anywhere, including here in Washington, D. C., where in the same period of time we spent several millions of dollars providing local public housing for the purpose of taking people who would come in here. My point is administration and I should like to show you these other pictures because you will see that this is very permanent in structure even though it was a temporary unit. You will see you have 18 foot concrete roads, beautiful concrete walks, radial dial construction on all of your sidewalks.
The next picture shows you a picture inside a kitchen. A 1942 Kelvinator, standing open. No one stopped me from going in there. I found out later some of the equipment was stolen and some equipment cannibalized to be taken to other units.
Mr. COLE. What does cannibalized mean?
Mr. SNYDER. It means the project was torn down, electric equipment was taken to some other public-housing project to be used there, leaving the bare building.
Mr. COLE. Thank you.
Mr. SNYDER. The vandalism which you will see here in this nest picture is another story. But here is this beautiful Kelvinator 8cubic-foot refrigerator, chrome plumbing all through the house, copper tubing, construction of the floors, all oak, they were all warped and out of shape, windows, steel-casement windows, all out of shape. These were beautiful homes.
Mr. BUCHANAN. How many units were there in the project?
Mr. SNYDER. A hundred units. And here we are crying for housing in Washington, and here are more than a hundred units, which, I have evidence to show, were recommended specifically to be sold and the excuse was given they could not be sold because the Army wanted to use the units. We checked with the Army and found they would not have them if you gave them to them, because it would cost $700 a unit to rehabilitate them. However, millions of dollars were spent right here in Washington, D. C., when as close as 20 miles away,
these 55 units were standing empty, with another 55 occupied by Negroes. Fifty-five units, at a cost of $3,000 or more. And they could be torn down and put up somewhere else.
Here is another picture showing how the paint is gone, the roof is warped, the windows are smashed out, the shades are gone, the paint is all gone from the side of the partitions.
And here is another picture to give you an indication of how beautiful this lay-out was down there and also to further show you that these units are separate individual units that could have been moved somewhere else.
Now this is not confined entirely, gentlemen, to Indian Head, Md. In Peoria, I11., as I point out in my statement a little further on, units have been standing empty and they advertised for those units in the city papers, to have people come down. This newspaper clipping says, “If you have an income of a certain amount, come down and make your application." But it was necessary because of the vacancy of those units in Peoria, Ill., advertise in the want ads of the city to get people to come down and live in these units. However, we are told that we still have a demand for a million or more public-housing units when here we have units that are standing empty, the same type of wit, a demountable imit, that could be taken somewhere else in the interest of saving funds, and used somewhere else.
I have these pictures of Savannah, Ga. This is another project. I took these myself. This picture will show you a concrete-block construction, all grown up in weeds.
Later on they boarded them up and this is a picture down through the center of the project. As you will note, again, they are concreteblock construction, the weeds are all grown so high you can hardly tell there is a project there.
Here is another picture which shows a door boarded up.
This is Augustin Park, and I sent down to Georgia and asked for some up-to-date information. Those pictures were taken over a year ago and I wanted some up-to-date pictures and I got them, and with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I should like to pass them around so that the committee might have an opportunity to see these pictures taken May 5, 1949, at Det ford Place, an 850-unit project in Savannah, Ga., of which 300 units are presently being used and the rest of them
You will note from those pictures that the roofs are gone, that they, too, have been vandalized, that the equipment in those projects has been taken to other units, and stored. One unit is devoted entirely to the storage of more than 50 refrigerators. So I asked them for the story on this project, because I wanted you to know about it. I wanted you to know what this agency to whom you are going to entrust the responsibility of a million public housing units should this bill go through, this same agency, is presently permitting these conditions to exist, and that is why we are terribly alarmed about what may come of this housing bill.
At the time of Augustin Park, there were 850 units in this project you are now seeing. Det ford Place, Savannah. They were completed in September 1943 at a cost of $1.865,982. When my report was made in August 1946—this is the reporting person speaking—318 of these units had been deactivated. That means they were no longer on the list as being available for rent and were standing idle, as these pictures will show.
Mr. BROWN. Were these units in Savannah constructed under the Lanham Act?
Mr. SNYDER. Yes, sir; they were. That is specifically why I am bringing it up, Mr. Chairman, because we should like to make a specific recommendation as to what should be done with these units and how the money received from them could be employed for better uses if the houses are not going to be used.
If you will look at the little book which we passed around, entitled “Housing in Europe," I would like to point out to you what I am talking about. Maintenance. This subject of maintenance is nothing of a mystery. It is merely receiving enough income from your property to be able to maintain it in good condition and if you do maintain it you will not find it deteriorating.
You have heard much about the Baltimore project. I do not want to go into that,
but on page 2 you will find a 500-year-old wood and stucco house. This maintenance that you see here is the same type of maintenance that could be maintained on these same units. Either that or they could have been torn down and sent somewhere else to be used. There is no excuse for bad housekeeping.
You will also note, on page 15 of this booklet, a 700-year-old house, in Sweden, again. And then on the opposite page you will find, just a few hundred feet away from this same house, the church of St. Hans, and the house and church were built at the same time, maintenance preserved the house, which is still in use as the office of an air lines company. Lack of maintenance reduced the monumental church building to the fragmented ruin which you see on the accompanying page.
On the next pages, 16 and 17, you will see Visby's lesson in maintenance again, where you will find two structures. The beautiful church in the background has been maintained throughout those 700 years, but the church in front has been allowed to deteriorate and it is presently in ruins.
On the opposite page you see a 400-year-old house in Denmark. The interior of a 400-year-old house in Sweden, and a 300-year-old house in Denmark, and even the good maintenance habits of the Scandinavians, where they cover up their automobiles at night so that they do not deteriorate from the weather.
The same type of maintenance is the maintenance that you see right here in Washington, D. C. If you go up to Georgetown you will see several buildings that are more than a hundred years old which today are beautiful. It is the same type of maintenance that we have talked about so much, when the Senate had the visit to the slum dwelling situation here near the Senate Office Building.
I have pictures of both those units, and I have pictures of housing immediately adjacent to the Senate slum dwellings, which were pictured in the Washington Post and which so much fuss was made about, houses that today have been maintained, and today those houses are beautiful. They are alley dwellings, to be sure, but they are good livable structures. Rehabilitation could have gone a long way in saving those units that we saw such pictures of.
Mr. BUCHANAN. You mean these houses that the Senators viewed were painted since the inspection?
Mr. SNYDER. No, they are houses immediately adjacent to those. Mr. Buchanan. I would like to show you some pictures from those,