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So, the greatest roadblock to be eliminated by a public agency operating under this title, may be the assembly of land for rehabilitation. Apparently there is no provision for that in this. There is no assistance. Therefore, we believe this would do it, but it should be discussed perhaps in greater detail with the Housing Administrator.
In line 22, where it says a project may include the acquisition of real property and demolition or removal of buildings and improvements thereon where necessary to eliminate unhealthful, unsanitary, or unsafe conditions, we suggest the insertion of the words, “or disposition for rehabilitation. This is when voluntary rehabilitation fails. We can't effect voluntary rehabilitation in the case of a bad slum which may have a present market value of $1,000 to $1,500, being rehabilitated so that it becomes worth $6,000. The owner of that house is going into quite a different area, quite a different field, quite a different range, and really can't expect to do it under a voluntary basis. I think generally there has to be a change of ownership to accomplish this. Where the house is worth about $1,500, and by a few repairs could be brought up to maybe $5,000, then the owners can be expected, through code enforcement or through generally voluntary work, if the code is in the background, to bring the house up that much to standard.
On page 84 there is a requirement that when the city puts in its contribution in the form of improvements to these areas, that those improvements must be right in the adopted area. Many times we know a school that serves and supports one of these cleared or rehabilitated areas may lie just beyond it, just outside of it, in the next block, and it was not convenient and not fitted with the city plan to put it in the area. We therefore recommend that on page 84, line 2, the words "in the urban renewal area”—and they also appear on line 5—be deleted as a requirement which is not now existing on urban redevelopment projects. They are required primarily of direct benefit to the project, and necessary to serve and support the new uses in the project area, but not to be right smack in the area.
On line 9, the Administrator is given certain objective criteria to judge when he wants to apportion credit to a city that has put up a school which may be twice as big as needed to serve a particular project area. Twice there, however, he has given subjective determinations over and above the objective criteria which are set here to judge it against. That occurs on page 81, line 10, where it says, “Provided, That in any case where, in the determination of the Administrator, any park, playground, public buildings,” and so forth-we recommend deletion of those words. And again, on line 19, where it says, “The Administrator determines to be appropriate.” He has already been given objective criteria.
The same situation exists on page 85, line 3, where it says, "the Administrator has received assurances satisfactory to him that such park, playground, public building," and so forth. We recommend they merely be assurances; and if he doesn't think they are assurances, of course, he can turn them down.
That, sir, is all I have, and I thank you very much, indeed, for bearing with me.
The CHAIRMAN. It has been very, very interesting. I believe you have made some good suggestions. We will certainly consider them.
Mr. SEARLEs. Thank you very much.
Senator PAYNE. Mr. Chairman, in view of the fact that we have Mr. Searles here, I wonder, since he has talked so much about rehabilitation and clearance in connection with certain areas, and since he is pretty familiar with the District of Columbia, if he has any comment to make with regard to certain situations existing right here in this community, as better expressed by certain articles that have been recently appearing in the press, one of which we have inserted in the record.
Are there any plans? Have there been any plans? What is the proposal for the future on that situation?
Mr. SEARLES. For Washington, D. C., sir?
Mr. SEARLES. Well, we have in Washington several major slum areas-six, to be exact. Three of those have been designated for study. On one of those the southwest area has proceeded the most rapidly. The reason for that is that the southeast area, which contains a substantial amount of blight, has joined a voluntary rehabilitation of a number of structures and it has been our hope that we could support that where necessary rather than in any way impede it by threat of clearance or anything of that nature.
We have been working with a good many of the people in the southeast area to see if there was not something that the Redevelopment Agency could do, but they have been moving along very well in buying houses and fixing them up.
Senator Payne. To make it more specific, have you followed those articles in the press?
Mr. SEARLES. Yes, sir; we try to catch every article. There have been articles on both sides of the picture, of course.
Senator PAYNE. Did you see the one that started last Sunday? Mr. SEARLES. You mean, the second precinct article? See p. 251.) Senator PAYNE. That is right. Mr. SEARLEs. That is in our northwest area, and is the worst area in all Washington.
Senator PAYNE. You say that is the worst area in all Washington?
Mr. SEARLEs. That happens to be the second.
Mr. SEARLEs. The reason it isn't the first, sir, is that there is a very complicated throughway problem which exists in how the interbelt throughway is going to go through that area. So that we are depending upon arguments between the National Planning ('ommission, the Ilighway Department, the District Commissioners, and so forth.
Senator PAYNE. You mean, that is another one of those things that is being studied to death?
Mr. SEARLES. It may be. However, we heartily recommend that in those areas, that obviously are going to require clearance, that there be a staying action to try to clean them out and try to set a certain minimum standard, until clearance can actually take place in that area.
The southwest area was just about as bad and demanded a very high priority, too, and we just focused our energies on that because we could move right in there. The conditions there were utterly deplorable.
Senator PAYNE. What is your prediction of how fast you will be able to move into this other section?
Mr. SEARLES. On the northwest area?
Mr. SEARLES. I would think, with the public opinion which may be stimulated by the articles on "Washington's Wickedest Precinct," that its priority could definitely be moved up, and we could seek to move into the very worst core areas of that, some of those horrible alleys.
Senator PAYNE. How fast do these several planning agencies you are speaking of move with regard to this so-called freeway or whatever it may
be? Mr. SEARLES. I can assure you, sir, they always move much slower than you ever think they are going to, and than you anticipate.
Senator PAYNE. Let's get down to brass tacks. How long has it been in process, now? When did they first start talking about it?
Mr. SEARLES. They authorized a study to go on for about a year, a whole regional highway complex, that ended--the study took 2 years in total, and the material was available in 1952.
1952. That became part of the District of Columbia's $300 million public-works program which is now before the Congress. If that can be accomplished, the Highway Department might come to terms with the National Capital Planning Commission, which in Washington is an independent agency, then there is no reason why, inside of a year, a satisfactory plan for at least a portion of that area could not be accomplished.
Senator PAYNE. That $300 million public works program, that, too, as many of these things are, was set up also on a priority basis, a project No. 1–1 think they have made certain recommendations, 1, 2,3,4,5,6!
Mr. SEARLES. That is correct, sir.
Senator PAYNE. Is this particular freeway project that is proposed under that public works program, is that up there at the top of that priority list, or is that down?
Mr. SEARLES. No, this one is No. 1.
Mr. SEARLES. Southwest, sir. In other words, we have to get one anchored down. That is the area we are moving on. If you don't continue with your first priority, and all the manifold things that you have got to bring together, and split them in between, all your projects will get delayed.
Senator PAYNE. In other words, you are getting held up on this section you speak of, in the northwest section, which you admit is the worst that we have here in the Nation's Capital
Mr. SEARLES. I will say only by a shade.
Senator PUNE. There are certain statistics and facts that back it up as definitely being the worst !
Mr. SEARLES. Yes.
Senator PAYNE. Then, how fast are you going to be able to move on that project, if this freeway program clears the Congress? Are they going to have to go back and l'estudy the freeway proposal again?
Mr. SEARLES. I think we should be able to move faster than we moved in the Southwest.
Senator PAYNE. I mean, they started their study on the freeway, you say, in 1950, and it took 2 years to complete. So, they have finished in 1952. Now, 2 years have gone by and we are in 1954. Are they going to be able to take the facts and figures they have developed in 1.950 and 1952, or will they have to recompute that and go back and start the study all over again?
Mr. SEARLES. I really should have the engineer commissioner here with me, or the Director of the National Capital Planning Commission, because I am moving right into their field.
But it seems in Washington, as you know, there are 2 bibles of freeway, and until those bibles coincide, that area is pretty well stymied. And the 2 bibles are the comprehensive plan for the city of Washington by the National Capital Planning Commission. The other is the result of this regional highway survey, which is espoused by the District Highway Department and District Commissioners.
Where they don't coincide, whether it be on the bridge or throughway, in general, Congress has had to decide. So that is probably going to be the situation on the Northwest freeway.
There are three possible routes by which they line up in that wickedest precinct; one is on Delaware Avenue, perhaps cutting right into Capitol Hill, underground; the other is to go behind the Hill, using two streets back here-actually, I believe it is 4th and 5th, or 3d and 4th. And the other one, which is proposed by the Planning Commission, is to use Third Street, Northwest and Southwest. That, however, is not a very wide street.
So, the Highway Department prefers the route behind the Capitol, and as yet, they have not compromised, and maybe do not like to bring out the idea that they are thinking of tumeling under the Capitol.
Senator PAYNE. In other words, I appreciate your position on the thing, but what you are telling me, in fact, is yes, they have studied it. One group has studied it.
Mr. SEARLES. That is correct, sir.
Senator PAYNE. But the report yet hasn't been argued out and decided upon by the other agencies that have to come into the picture to determine whether the original plan is a good plan, or whether it isn't. So we may very well—it has taken us 4 years, now, from the time it started—it may well take us, on that same ratio, if 2 other agencies have to get into this picture, we might spread it out to 10 or 12 more years if we have to keep studying and studying before we get other action.
Mr. SEARLES. It certainly could. You have to take articles like the one that has come out in the paper and attitudes like yours, to put the pressure on to get action. It took over a year to anchor down the highway which you see on that picture, on which the general location was agreed upon within a block.
But over a year, to keep that from swinging back and forth, as it did in these plans, until we finally got it anchored down—and we
do not clear the area, or begin the project until we have 100 percent agreement on where it goes.
The CHAIRMAN. It won't take us Republicans as long as it did the Democrats in the past 20 years. We will get that cleared up.
Mr. WINSTON. All the urban redevelopment we have been talking about-urban renewal and rehabilitation, and so forth—is going to be seriously jeopardized if we don't have a public housing program to take care of the serious problem of relocation.
This bill, as you know, makes a few amendments to the Housing Act of 1949, but even that is completely unworkable without the removal of restrictions placed upon it by the 1954 and 1953 appropriation bills.
I would like to illustrate just by my own experience—if you will forgive personal experience—from my job as director of housing in Baltimore City.
We in Baltimore have what is known as the three-pronged attack on slums. We have the rehabilitation program, known as the Baltimore plan; we have the Baltimore Redevelopment Commission, which is clearing the slums and making the land available for private enterprise; and we have the housing authority, which has the job of taking care of low-income families.
The relationships between those agencies is thorough. They supplement each other. There is no competition whatsoever. As an example, we have a contract with the Redevelopment Commission of Baltimore whereby we take care of all relocation, both those families who are not eligible for public housing and those who are. We have just cleared a thousand families for the redevelopment commission, removed them, a good many of them into public housing, and most of them into private housing. The State of Maryland has just selected and is going to proceed upon a redevelopment project consisting of a State office building. There will be 1,000 more families removed from that area.
We will have to do the removal. The only way that can be done is the latter part of this year, there will come on the market a new public housing project, 800 units, which will take care of the relocation. Without that, that whole redevelopment program and rehabilitation will not work. It would be impossible without creating ripples, impacts, throughout your periphery areas of overcrowding and creating the same conditions that we are spending millions of dollars trying to correct in the core.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, gentlemen. We appreciate your testimony. I think we can use many of your suggestions.
The next witness will be from the National Conference of Catholic Charities. The Rt. Rev. John O'Grady.
Do you have a prepared statement?
STATEMENT OF RT. REV. MSGR. JOHN O'GRADY, SECRETARY,
NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES Monsignor O'GRADY. Yes; I have submitted a prepared statement.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you like to read it, or just tell us something about it!
Monsignor OʻGRADY. I think I will tell you something about it.