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“NATIONAL CAPITAL HOUSING AUTHORITY "SEC. 508. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the National Capital Housing Authority is hereby authorized to acquire sites for low-rent public housing projects assisted under the provisions of the United States Housing Act of 1937, as amended."
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington 4, D. C., May 9, 1949.
United States House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
The Commissioners requested the preparation of necessary amendments to enable the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency to participate in the Federal program of assistance for local communities in their slum clearance and redevelopment work. The amendments necessary to accomplish this objective have been prepared as a cooperative effort of representatives of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency, the National Capital Housing Authority, and the Commissioners. The amendments submitted to you by the Administrator, Housing and Home Finane? Agenç'y, in his letter dated May 9 are the result of these efforts.
As you know, the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act of 1945 was enacted as Public Law 592 of the Seventy-ninth Congress. This act is a comprehensive piece of legislation which was developed by Congress after lengthy hearings and consideration over a period of approximately 112 years. While no money has yet been provided under Public Law 592 it is the earnest hope of the Commissioners that this act in its present form will be given a fair trial and that funds provided for thereunder will be appropriated at an early date. While the Commissioners have approved amendments to this act to enable slum clearance and redevelopment to be carried out under the principles of S. 1070 and H. R. 4009, it is their understanding that such amendments would not in any way affect the operation of Public Law 592 in connection with any slun clearance and redevelopment work which is done under financing provided for in the act as enacted originally.
It is understood by the Commissioners that, as indicated in the Administrator's
JOHN RUSSELL YOUNG,
NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION,
Washington, D. O., May 9, 1949.
Ilouse of Representatives, Washington 25, D. C.
I am writing to confirm the statement made in Mr. Foley's letter that the National Capital Park and Planning Commission fully concurs in Mr. Foley's report and in the proposed amendments to S. 1070 attached to his letter.
As the agency which, under the law, initiates plans for redevelopment in the District of Columbia, this Commission desires to participate in the national pro
gram and, therefore, urges favorable consideration by your committee of the
A. E. DEMARAY,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA REDEVELOPMENT LAND AGENCY,
Washington 4, D. C., May 9, 1949. Hon. BRENT SPENCE, Chairman, Committee on Banking and Currency,
United States House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. SPENCE: The District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency has been furnished a copy of your letter dated May 4, 1949, to Hon. Raymond M. Foley, Administrator, Housing and Home Finance Agency, in regard to the bills H. R. 4009 and S. 1070, entitled "To establish a national housing objective and the policy to be followed in the attainment thereof, to provide Federal aid to assist slum-clearance projects and low-rent public housing projects initiated by local agencies, to provide for financial assistance by the Secretary of Agriculture for farm housing, and for other purposes.”
The District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency was created by the act of Congress approved August 2, 1946 (Public Law 592, 79th Cong.). The Land Agency is very hopeful that in the near future funds will become available under the provisions of the act of August 2, 1946, which will enable it to commence its operations.
The Land Agency in conjunction with representatives of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the National Capital Housing Authority, and the District Commissioners, have agreed to the form and purpose of amendments to S. 1070 to enable the District of Columbia to participate in the benefits to be provided by title I thereof. These amendments have been transmitted to your committee by letter of the Administrator, Housing and Home Finance Agency, dated May 9, 1949.
The Land Agency desires to recommend wholeheartedly the enactment of the amendments necessary to make S. 1070 funds available to the District of Columbia while at the same time preserving the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act of 1945. This would make it possible then for the District to proceed under either the original Act or under the provisions necessary to modify the same to conform with the requirements of S. 1070.
It is the understanding of the Land Agency that the enactment of the proposed amendments would be in accord with the program of the President. Sincerely yours,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA REDEVELOPMENT LAND AGENCY, By MARK LANSBURGH, Chairman.
NATIONAL CITIZENS COUNCIL FOR MIGRANT LABOR,
Washington 3, D. C., May 9, 1949. Hon. BRENT SPENCE, Chairman, Ilouse Committee on Banking and Currency,
Washington, D. C. Dear CONGRESSMAN SPENCE: The National Citizens Council for Migrant Labor urges you and your committee to report favorably on H. R. 4009. This bill provides for a comprehensive housing program which would include a housing program for rural communities. It would make possible a program to improve housing conditions for migrant agricultural labor.
The 1,000,000 families who travel around the country harvesting the Nation's crops are in desperate need of such a housing program, the council has found. Established 2 years ago by individuals and organizations who were working with the migrants to solve their problems, the council has gathered from their combined experience a shocking picture of the overcrowding, the lack of sanitation, and the inadequacy of shelter which migrant families endure. The tractors and farm animals are often housed better than the humans who help with the crops.
The council members have found migrant families camping out behind sand dunes with gunny sacks their only shelter in Kern County, Calif., where they
worked in the fruit orchards; in ditches or under bridges during the Texas cotton harvest; in such leaky shacks in Maryland that they prefer sleeping in their old cars on rainy nights.
There was the Clayton family staying in a cubicle partitioned off in a cow shed in New York State while they worked in the bean fields. Harvey and his wife slept on a board platform, covered with hay, while the four Clayton children slept on another platform in the back of the unventilated cubicle.
There was the Herrera family who were working in the asparagus fields near Rochelle, Il. They lived with 10 other families in a 10-room house. Fifty-eight people with no plumbing.
There were the Morales, a father and three sons, aged 10, 13, and 15, who were working in the citrus groves in Hidalgo County, Tex. They had lived from November through February in a pup tent with their only household furnishings a small oil stove and two mattresses. In the settlement where their tent was pitched was one privy, marked “Women only,” which had been built out of cardboard about 2 years before.
A torn piece of tent had been hung as a door. There was no privy for men. In the study of this county made by the Children's Bureau, it was found that more than half of the children included in the survey slept in the same room with at least six other persons.
Such living conditions are duplicated all over the country wherever large numbers of extra workers are needed to help with the sudden demands of a crop. The migrants as they move to meet these needs of the farmers and of the consumer of fresh, frozen, and canned produce have little choice. They must accept whatever shelter is available in the area and few rural communities have adequate facilities to house extra families.
Not only the migrant families, but the communities where they stay are endangered by the migrants' substandard living conditions. Kern County, Calif., last year had one of the highest infantile paralysis and infant diarrhea rates in the country, rates which were blamed by the Council of Social Agencies on the poor housing of the migrants.
In the 1937 typhoid epidemic in California, 90 percent of the reported cases occurred among agricultural migrants. Outbreaks of diphtheria epidemics and of bacillary dysentery occurred in the Michigan sugar beet fields in 1941. No community whose housing for migrants does not meet the minimum standards of sanitation and decency is safe.
These rural communities and the migrant agricultural laborers need the assistance of the Federal Government to establish adequate housing.
The growers are not taking this responsibility. Of 31 harvest surveys made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in 1945, in only two harvests were as many as half of the workers provided with houses by the farmers—65 percent of the New Jersey asparagus harvesters and 53 percent of the Texas onion-plant pullers. In 15 of the harvests, a fifth to a half of the workers were provided with houses and in 12, the proportion was less than a fifth. The study did not say whether the housing provided was adequate.
In Florida where growers associations have taken over old Farm Security Administration housing for migrants, rents in some cases have gone up to as much as $8 a week for a single unit, and many of the migrants who formerly lived in them have been forced to move out into any shack they can rent or into shelters they throw up. In California where the growers are leasing old FSA housing, rents for two- or three-room "apartments" have gone from $4.50 to $6.75 per week, a 50-percent increase. The camps have shown marked deterioration since the Department of Agriculture gave over their maintenance. None of the camps are reported receiving health inspections.
No State has undertaken a housing program for migrants. No State has taken over the old Federal camps. In 4 out of 254 Texas counties, county housing authorities are attempting to operate the camps, but no other local or county effort toward this end has been reported to the council.
Because the rural communities are unable to provide adequate housing for micrant agricultural labor without assistance, because no other group or unit of government is assuming this responsibility, and because of the National Citizens Council for Misrant Labor believes that the provisions of adequate housing is one of the most basic needs of migrant workers, the council is supporting H. R. 4009.
However, the council would like to make two suggestions for your consideration. First, we would like to see added to the public housing title a section repealing Public Law 298, Eightieth Congress, and transferring title of the 37 Federal migrant labor camps still held by the Department of Agriculture to the Public Housing Administration of the Housing and Home Finance Agency. Under Public Law 298, the Department of Agriculture was instructed to sell the mobile and permanent camps built for migrant labor by the Farm Security Administration (now the Farmers Home Administration) under certain conditions. The temporary camps have already been liquidated and the remaining 37 permanent camps must be put on the auction block if they are not sold by June 30, 1949, unless Public Law 298 is repealed.
At a time when a comprehensive housing program is being considered it is an obvious contradiction for the Federal Government to dispose of these housing projects. Like other emergency or war housing, these units should be retained to help meet the need of migrant families, a need which is not limited to a war emergency but exists every farming season.
Secondly, we are in accord with the provisions of the public housing title which would allot 10 percent of the annual contributions to rural nonfarm housing. We believe that migratory agricultural labor should be included to the greatest extent possible under the program authorized by this provision.
To summarize, the National Citizens Council for Migrant Labor is supporting H. R. 4009 with its provisions for a rural nonfarm housing program. The council also asks for the addition of a section repealing Public Law 298, Eightieth Congress, which requires the Federal Government to dispose of its present housing units for migrant labor by June 30, 1919, and transferring the title of the remaining camps to the Public Housing Administration. No housing bill which would provide adequate housing for the Nation's ill-housed can ignore the needs of this group of useful citizens. The migrant agricultural families do not need special assistance they only need to be included in the programs which benefit all United States citizens.
We respectfully request that this letter be included in the hearings on the 1949 Federal housing bill, H. R. 4009. Sincerely yours,
THOMAS B. KEEHN, Chairman.
STATEMENT OF NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS, CHICAGO, ILL,
Chairman Spence and members of the House Banking and Currency Committees, I wish to submit this statement on behalf of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, an organization of 5,127.896 men and women in every State in the United States, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii,
Our organization has five objects which are to be found in its bylaws and the bylaws of every local unit in its membership. They are:
To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, church, and community.
To raise the standards of home life.
To bring the home and school into closer relationship, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the training of the child.
To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for every child the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.
You will note that in these objects the National Congress of Parents and Teachers considers the home the first in the four basic influences in the life of the child. Because this is true, the second object seeks to raise the standards of home life so that in cooperation of educators and the general public, through the agencies of the school, community, and church, the child may obtain the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual development.
You will note, also, that one of these objects is to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
In accordance with these objects, as a national organization we are giving active support to this legislation which will remedy the present serious housing shortage, eliminate slum areas, and provide an opportunity for every American family to have a decent home.
While we realize that fine houses do not always make fine homes, we do recognize the fact that houses which do not furnish adequate provisions for good health, a decent amount of privacy, and recreational facilities are breed
ing grounds for crime and juvenile delinquency. Unless Congress passes legislation to relieve this situation of acute housing shortage, there will be an inevitable increase in the toll from disease, delinquency, and crime which will not only add to the burden of our taxpayers but will undermine the strength of our Nation.
In the past as in the present, it is the great mass of our citizenry who come within the middle-income groups which have suffered the most from this lack of adequate and decent housing. It is from these homes that the greatest numbers of our fighting forces have come; they have supplied the war-workers in civilian life; in the aggregate, their taxes as well as their savings have been the mainstay of our National Treasury; they are truly the backbone of our Nation,
Many of these families have saved enough money to start buying homes if contracts are long enough and flexible enough to make them feel secure in their ability to hold them. More research should be conducted by the Housing Administrator which will promote reduction in housing construction and maintenance costs and stimulate the increased production of housing within the reach of this middle-income group.
Of special concern are the families in the lowest-income group which cannot afford to buy or rent decent housing provided by private enterprise. Left to their own resources they are doomed to live in blighted areas. Local interest in their problems has led to urban redevelopment laws in some States. However, we find that most of these have failed because the cities and towns have been unable to carry out their plans because of financial losses. It is apparent that cities and towns will need some Federal subsidy to clear their slums and redevelop their blighted areas.
These low-income families are found on farms and in rural areas, also. No comprehensive housing program should neglect the rural areas. It should be noted that rural farm houses in general are inferior and less adequate than those of urban dwellers. Special loans or grants should be made to farm families to enable them to own standard homes and to provide decent housing for those working on farms, the loan or grant depending upon the income of the farmer.
This legislation, H. R. 4009, holds hope for the millions of families which need decent homes. Our organization is supporting this legislation because we feel that in this bill all groups are cared for; those who rent as well as those who are prospective homeowners. It encourages private enterprise to serve as large a part of the total need as it can; it encourages local public bodies to undertake positive programs to assist in the development of well-planned residential neighborhoods and the development and redevelopment of communities; it provides governmental assistance to eliminate substandard and other inadequate housing through slum clearance; it provides decent, safe, and sanitary farm dwellings where the farmer demonstrates he lacks sufficient resources and credit to provide such housing.
Homes are the foundation stone of a nation; the White House conference on Children in a Democracy in 1940 called them the “threshold of democracy." The best way to preserve our democracy is to preserve the home as an institution. However, one must first have a home before he has the urge to preserve it. An over-all housing program such as proposed in the General Housing Act of 1949 should be passed in this session of Congress and it will receive the wholehearted support of our members throughout this Nation.
Mrs. STANLEY G. COOK,
Chairman, Committee on Legislation. INDIAN HEAD, MD., April 26, 1949.
A STATEMENT CONCERNING THE FINANCING OF LOW-RENT PUBLIC HOUSING UNDEB
THE HOUSING ACT OF 1949 (H. R. 4009)
The following memorandum supports the view that federally subsidized housing bonds should be included with other public securities eligible for unrestricted purchase and underwriting by commercial banks. (Sec. 502 of the pending Housing Act of 1949 contains the necessary provision.) This view is sponsored not only by the signatories but also by many other banks, some of whose names are listed below:
Atlanta, Trust Co. of Georgia ; Baltimore, Equitable Trust Co., Mercantile Trust Co.; Birmingham, the First National Bank; Boston, First National Bank;