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immediate need. I earnestly hope that it will meet with your approval, and will be incorporated in the bill reported by the committee.
STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY REPRESENTATIVE VITO MARCANTONIO ON BEHALF OF THE
PROGRESSIVE PARTY Housing is no longer a subject for partisan politics. Fifty-eight million Americans are now in desperate need of decent homes. We are the wealthiest industrial nation in the world. Yet thousands of building workers are out of jobs, while the need for homes increases every day.
It is tragically apparent and generally admitted that private builders have failed to supply housing for more than that third of American families which is in the higher income brackets. The Government must act and act forthrightly and adequately this year.
That is why I have come here to testify on my housing bill. We can and we must start building 1,000,000 low-rent public housing units a year. The bill passed by the Senate (S. 1070) is little more than a sop to the people. We have a job to do on a grand scale and we must face up to it.
Who are these 58,000,000 homeless Americans? They are not an abstract problem that we can consider in a half-hearted, abstract way. They are our neighbors.
Three million American families have no homes at all. That means over 10,000,000 men, women, and children are living doubled up with parents and parents-in-law. They are crowded into nests so tightly they have no chance to live.
Thirteen million American families that means over 45,000,000 men, women, and children, are living in rotten old buildings which we blithely dismiss as “substandard housing.” We in New York and you in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and the other cities know what slums mean. The word is as deadly as atom bombs.
No one can expect to avoid epidemics and be healthy when he has no sanitation, no running water in his home. No one can hope for a decent family life when he swelters through summer and freezes through winter with 8 or 10 families in a space not adequate or decent for one.
This committee knows the story. It knows too, that there are rural slums for sharecroppers and low-paid mill workers. It knows the disgrace of housing in coal-mining communities in every part of the country.
Recently several parties from Congress went slumming right here in sight of the Capitol building. The Members were shocked. They found a stinking, filthy, unhealthy mess. They found families living so close together it was almost impossible to breathe. They found brazen violation on a wholesale scale of the basic laws of sanitation and fire hazards. They found hell constructed in the
of the richest country, with the highest living standards on earth. The gentlemen were shocked. But the shocking thing is not that slums exist in the capital. It is shocking that they continue to exist, and unless you gentle men do something about it, they will go on existing for generations. And above all the shocking thing is that these Washington slums are but samples of an inhuman practice that exists in every city, in thousands of milltowns, in mining camps, and on farms throughout the land.
The gentlemen were shocked. But what did they do? They came back to Capitol Hill and they passed S. 1070-a face-saving device that masquerades as a major solution to the housing problem. It leaves most of the poorest and all of the great mass of the middle-class working people not a bit better off than they were before the bill was devised.
S. 1070 is just another surrender in the long series of surrenders made by Congress on the housing question since the middle thirties. Real strides toward a national housing program were made during the administration of Franklin 1. Roosevelt when model slum-clearance projects and Greenbelt towns were brought into being.
Everybody, including the administration, has been giving lip service to the "housing crisis,” especially around election times. But when the test came in the 1949 budget, what did the administration ask for in meeting this greatest of all American problems?
Out of the $10,000,000,000 Truman budget, all Federal housing activities are allotted $38,000,000. The problem that worries almost half of America day and night, summer and winter, is given one one-thousandth of Federal er.
penditures. We can spare billions to arm strangers abroad but can hardly scrape up a few millions to help find our own war veterans decent places in which to live.
And of course, though this may distress most tax-paying American citizens, it should make the housing lobbies very happy. The housing lobbies have been having quite a time of it this year. The Eighty-first Congress isn't so bad for them after all.
The American people were asked by radio broadcast and newspaper headlines to believe they had won a great victory when Congress passed the rentcontrol extension act with its joker provisions for “local option.”
But the real estate boys knew better. In the April 11 bulletin of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, President Ted Maener told the boys to waste no time sopping up the gravy. Under this heading "Realtors, Here's a Great Chance,” he wrote, “If a real-estate board undertakes to organize a city-wide committee representing the whole rental housing industry, it can (a) get decontrol as soon as possible and (b) get fairer rent control in the meantime,
And unless the House broadens the slum-clearance and low-cost housing bill passed by the Senate to make it into something that approaches the size of the job ahead the building lobby will be laughing up its sleeve along with the realestate boards.
“Let private enterprise do it," they say while half of America goes homeless or lives in places unfit for animals. They don't care who goes homeless so long as they can squeeze exorbitant profits out of those who are frozen in whatever kind of shelter they now live.
"Let the low-income families buy economy homes,” they say. Richard J. Gray, president of the Building and Construction Trades, Department of the American Federation of Labor, gave this committee the answer to that in his recent testimony. The so-called economy homes are so shoddy, he said, that we are simply building new slums.
Mr. Gray also gave the committee an inkling of another tragic consequence of this luxury building policy when he testified that while the country is crying for homes 10,000 members of the building trades unions in New York alone are unemployed.
That we can't go on relying on private initiative in the building industry is appa rent. Government action is the only alternative. But it must be action to fit the need. We know that 3,000,000 families have no homes at all now.
We know that 13,000,000 families are living in pestilential slums in cities, mill towns, mining camps, and farms.
We know that there are half a million families formed each year and that half a million old houses become completely uninhabitable each year.
So we know that right now 17,000,000 families—58,000,000 peopleer-desperately need homes.
What does the Senate bill do about this need? It provides for 135,000 dwelling units a year over a 6-year period, in the low-rental field.
With 500,000 new families being formed each year and 500,000 old housing units being abandoned each ear, that number is tragically short. The program wouldn't begin to keep up with current needs. After 6 years the Nation would be much worse off than it is now.
H. R. 4277, on the other hand, provides for the building of half a million low rental units a year for 8 years until 4,000,000 units are constructed.
In handling slum clearance, S. 1070 gives no thought to what will become of the thousands of families moved out of the slum. H. R. 4277 provides that no family shall be forced to move until a 3-percent vacancy ratio has been created in accommodations at comparable rentals. Appropriations for slum clearance are the same in both bills.
Witnesses for both the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations have testified before this committee that S. 1070 will not in any way provide for the great mass of wage earners. The Senate passed legislation completely neglecting 60 percent of the people. Those whose incomes are so low they can pay only up to $30 a month are taken care of through the limited amount of subsidized housing provided in the bill. But even here the provisions are so skimpy there is bound to be a wild scramble to get the projects, with firstcome, first-served techniques. What small mining camp or milltown can hope to compete with the vast underprivileged areas of the cities?
On the other hand, FHA-insured housing is available only at levels too high for most workingmen and women to pay. Rental or purchase-price payments
range from $85 to $150 a month for this type housing. The average is $96 a month. What steelworker, what white-collar worker, what self-employed family can afford that kind of housing?
Sixty percent of us fall in the gap between the $30 payment and the $96 payment, and S. 1070 does nothing for us.
H. R. 4277 meets this need squarely. My bill authorizes the issuance of $25,000,000,000 of notes by the housing authority where S. 1070 authorizes one and a half billion dollars. It authorizes Federal contributions of $1,600,000,000 over an 8-year period where S. 1070 authorizes $308,000,000 over 6 years. But under this title it provides for meeting the annual need through 4,000,000 units, whereas S. 1070 would leave us worse off than we are now with only 810,000 units in 6 years.
And H. R. 4277 goes farther. It authorizes the guarantee of $5,000,000,000 a year for 5 years for construction of low-cost nonsubsidized housing. These bonds would be sold to the public, and every dollar would be returned after buying its part of decent housing.
H. R. 4277 authorizes $25,000,000 for research in housing. It authorizes 500 million for loans on adequate or potentially adequate farms where S. 1070 provides 250 million. Where S. 1070 authorizes $5,000,000 for contributions on potentially adequate farms, H. R. 4277 authorizes $25.000.000. S. 1070 makes no provision for migratory workers. H. R. 4277 authorizes $60,000,000 at $20,000,000 a year.
Finally, H. R. 4277 meets the question of race discrimination where it exists in ugly reality-in housing. It prohibits discrimination in past, present, or future housing in which the Federal Government has had a hand.
It is time America made up her mind whether she is a democracy. If so, she will provide housing for all races on an equal nondiscriminatory basis. The time for fine speeches has passed. If we mean what we say we will put the law into effect.
We hear great speeches about the housing lobby and the real-estate lobby and other lobbies from all parties. We have passed a rent-control bill that the lobbies like. Let's pass a housing bill that the people like.
This bill is the only bill before Congress which gives substantial aid to fami. lies now living in slum areas, to low- and middle-income families, to small farmers and sharecroppers. This is the only bill that authorizes direct aid to the housing problems of the migratory workers.
The cost is trifling compared with the cost of armaments. Capital expenditures are limited to the subsidies. The loan funds do not represent a capital expenditure.
If we wish to show our own people and the world that we are a great democracy, we must have homes for the people that make up that democracy. We must consider homes as important as warplanes or atom bombs. We must make it clear that in a democracy a black man needs a home and is entitled to a home, just as much as a white man.
If we come up again with too little, too late, the consequences will be incalculable. America, where 58,000,000 citizens are in desperate need of homes, must act.
CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS, April 12, 19.49. Congressman BRENT SPENCE, Chairman of Ilouse Committee on
Banking and Currency, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: Attached you will find copy of action of the City Council of the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, at a meeting held April 8, 1949, of the passage of a resolution requesting the United States Congress to enact S. 1070 or similar legislation. Very truly yours,
Cuas. C. SWANSON, City Clerk.
RESOLUTION REQUESTING THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO ENACT SENATE BILI
1070 OR SIMILAR LEGISLATION
(By Alderman Pratt)
Whereas the city of Minneapolis has by resolution of its city council on November 9, 1915, and on January 3, 1946, recognized the existence of a housing emergency; and
Whereas the city has availed itself of Federal assistance in the form of temporary dwellings for the housing of veterans; and
Whereas the city in addition has spent over $2,000,000 of its own funds to provide both semipermanent and permanent dwellings for its citizens most in need of housing; and
Whereas there remains a great unfilled need for rental housing which private enterprise cannot meet and which there is no prospect of its meeting in the foreseeable future; and
Whereas the city has authorized the organization of a housing and redevelopment authority and has financed the early studies of this authority; and
Whereas it is now apparent that the only feasible means of providing housing of minimum adequate standard to certain of the families of the city is by a program of Federal assistance to localities for the construction and operation of public low-rent housing developments; Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the City Council of the City of Minneapolis, That the City Council of Minneapolis hereby requests the United States Congress to enact Senate bill 1070 or legislation substantially the same; and be it further
Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to Members of the Congress representing Minnesota and that a copy be transmitted to Congressman BRENT SPENCE, chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, for inclusion in the record of the hearings of that committee on any bill or bills containing substantially the public housing provisions of Senate bill 1070. Passed April 8, 1949,
ERIC G. HOYER,
President of the Council. Approved April 11, 1949.
ERIC G. HOYER.
Acting Mayor. Attest:
Chas. C. SWANSON,
THE UE CASE FOR HOUSING-A STATEMENT TO THE EIGHTY-FIRST CONGRESS BY
THE UNITED ELECTRICAL, Radio, AND MACHINE WORKERS OF AMERICA
STATEMENT ON THE NATIONAL SCENE
As a national union concerned with great concentrations of industrial workers in areas of New England, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri, and other States, the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers was compelled to take cognizance of the housing conditions of its members. In many local unions throughout the country the resentment of better than 600,000 workers in the machine tool, radio, and electrical industry organized in UE brought to the attention of the national leadership of the union the bad prevailing conditions, the abnormally high expense of real estate and rentals, and the actual nonexistence of housing in many cases.
Reviewing the facts already uncovered by individual and public researchers plus facts already placed before the Congress of the United States, we found that in many instances the facts stated were, while bad, not as bad as the true circumstances.
In general the facts are, in March 1949, that Americans still lack housing for over 3,000,000 families. That veterans, despite the magnificient promises made to them while in the service, are still among those most desperately needing adequate housing. It is also a fact that within the next year an additional 500,000 families will be needing housing, and that this figure will tend to mount with the increasing marriages and births.
While the general situation is one that is not only shameful but is indeed a serious danger to the health and welfare of all Americans, it is nevertheless even more aggravated in those industrial centers where little has been done or even contemplated. In such industrial centers as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois for example, the crowding, the lack of sanitation, rodent infestation, the fire hazards, the actual inadequacy of space and, on top of everything else, the very great expense of rentals makes the lot of the industrial worker one that is even more undesirable. For the industrial worker the limit of his pocketbook forces him into slums where statistics prove that sickness from bad conditions is a
major problem and always a threat of epidemic proportions. For the Negro industrial worker this is aggravated still further and with an even harsher impact.
Recent estimates by economists indicate that between March 1948 and March 1949 home building fell off almost 16 percent. In the same period all private investment in building fell off almost 6 percent. Actually the trend is for this to continue. In the light of the subsequent facts we adduce and also of the increasing unemployment in the Nation, we feel that the provisions of S. 138 need to be further expanded to meet the needs of the people.
If it is accurate that the housing situation is as acute as it has been often stated to be and as we believe we can indicate it to be, then it is a problem that cannot be deferred to long time plans and future consideration.
If health and sanitation officials are to be our criteria and welfare officials our guide in the effect this evil situation has upon the health and morals of our juvenile population, then it is time to act with immediacy and promptness on this issue.
If the press statement of the public contractors and their lobbyists before Congress are to be accepted, then it is imperative that the Federal Government take an active part in the solution of this question. But this should not be a role which extends itself into infinity. It should be one which moves with despatch and which solves at once two problems :
(a) The wretched housing conditions and indeed the very absence of housing for many which prevails in all industrial communities, bringing with its solution the improvement of the health, living standards, and morals of such communities.
(6) The need for getting into action once again the increasing number of unemployed workers now so desperately in need of funds and employment, to whom, incidentally, the housing problem becomes an added bugaboo in this period of a declining economy.
Generally speaking we recognize these conditions as existing today. We do not intend in this statement to mention the 84 percent of all farm dwellings which, in 1945, the Department of Agriculture, Miscellaneous, Publication No. 513, stated as being substandard.
In connection with this we wish to place ourselves on record as favoring the general principles of S. 138, while, we at the same time point out its sheer inadequacy in the present situation. To us, as we view the problem from the viewpoint of our membership and the Nation, it appears as though once again S. 138 is an attempt to stop the leak in the dike with one finger.
THE FACTS (a) Nation-wide
From the files of hearings before both the Seventy-ninth and Eightieth Congresses testimony given indicates the national housing situation. The total housing needs of the Nation approximate between 16,000,000 and 18,000,000 dwelling units over the next 10-year period. This figure is made up by between three and four million families living doubled up or without dwellings and forced to accept trailers, tourist cabins, or just shacks; over 8,000,000 families in urban centers who are living in substandard dwellings without toilets, baths, or the other normal facilities; about 5,000,000 estimated additional families who will require housing in the next 10 years plus a vacancy allowance of about 2,000,000 units to permit movement of families from one place to another.
By substandard housing we mean that which does not have proper toilet, bath, and living facilities and/or where the housing itself has been condemned or should he condemned as a health or safety hazard. (6) Areas of concentrated UE membership
1. In Chicago, for example, the housing authority reports a ghastly situation which their attempts to remedy, while excellent as examples of what can be done, scarcely scratch the surface of the general situation. In the city a blighted area of over 23 square miles has over 800,000 of a population. One out of every four homes is substanard. In the next 25 years there will be a need for about half a million new dwelling units. At present, nearly 45,000 veterans live in single rooms or trailers or cabins with their families. Over 70,000 families are compelled to double up. Infant mortality, pneumonia, tuberculosis are all many times higher than the general city level. Juvenile delinquency is four times higher than the city's norm. Deaths by fire in fire traps have run 145 in 1947, 152 in 1948, and 24 in the first month of 1949. In this area UE has a considerable