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The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, your statement will be printed in the record as prepared, and then all your remarks will likewise be placed in the record.
(The statement referred to follows:)
STATEMENT OF Rt. Rev. Msgr. JOHN O'GRADY, SECRETARY, NATIONAL CONFERENCE
OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES
For more than a quarter of a century I have been interested in housing for American families. I have regarded good housing as one of the basic supports of family life. I do not want to see a large sector of our housing program taken over by the Government. I have pointed out time and again to this committee that public housing is a last resort, that the Government should step into this field only where private enterprise has failed, and that Government should do everything possible to stimulate private enterprise.
In our original discussions of the program included in the 1949 Housing Act, we emphasized that Government-constructed houses should not constitute more than 10 percent of the housing supply. We have never reached this amount. I doubt if Government housing constitutes much more than 1 percent of our total housing supply.
I have always liked to regard housing for the people as an integral part of our overall economy. We cannot discuss it apart from the basic economy. For many years we have regarded the volume of housing construction as one of the best measures of the health of the economy at any particular time.
We have come to regard housing for families as part of an overall plan for the use of city land. We need land for educational purposes, for recreation, for health facilities, for business, and for communications. We constantly have a great deal of competition between different interests for the use of city land and each interest has its own technicians. When we look at the program of the ordinary city at the present time we see a constant struggle between different groups of technicians located in downtown areas of our cities, in the State capitals, and in Washington, who are planning independently for the use of city land. A few days ago, I saw hundreds of houses being torn down by the city highway department of Detroit for a new speedway. Thousands of families were being forced out of their homes to make room for this highway. There was absolutely no plan for their relocation.
I visited another area in Detroit which is about to be cleared out to make room for additional private housing units. A third of the people in this area qualified for public housing. There is an assumption that private housing will be available, somehow or other, for those who do not qualify.
I saw a third area in Detroit into which families who were being displaced by slum clearance were moving. In this area many of the oldtime 20-room houses were being divided up into small apartments or individual rooms. The 2-room apartments housed on an average of about 4 persons to each room. One man who lived in a 2-room apartment with his wife told me that when he came home 1 evening recently, his wife told him they had some visitors. Another family, consisting of father, mother, and three children, had moved in on them. The man said that this was fairly common in the district. These houses were being blighted quite rapidly and yet this was supposed to be one of the city's conservation areas.
I believe that a serious effort is being made in Detroit to enforce the city codes. I asked one of the city officials how long this enforcement could continue in view of the pressure on the existing supply of housing. He finally admitted that it would depend on the type of civic neighborhood interest that could be developed but which does not exist at the present time.
One of the greatest problems confronting American cities at this time is a lack of available data in regard to the housing supply for people who are forced to move from their homes by slum clearance and public improvements. I called this fact to the attention of the President's Advisory Committee on Housing. I have met few people who question this basic statement. I believe that those in charge of housing programs in our cities are fairly well aware of the facts. They have a good picture of the housing situation; they know how many units are unfit for human habitation; they know pretty well how many units can be repaired; they know how many families are being displaced by slum clearance and public improvements; they know how many families are living in unsanitary and dangerous firetraps; they know about the loss of life in these firetraps. However, all this information was not available to the President's Advisory Committee. I do not believe that it has been made available to the Administrati» of the Housing and Home Finance Agency. It is not available to the Congress of the l'nited States.
The cities are naturally anxious to go ahead with their improvement programs. There is great pressure for new highways, new health centers, new schools. Millions of people are anxious to save 20 or 30 minutes in getting to work in the morning. They want better communications, but how about the housing of millions of families in the low-income and lower middle-income brackets?
I believe that the bill now under consideration offers many hopes for the future. I am interested in the new implements that it offers to private enterprise. We are not sure, however, how these new implements will work. It should be made doubly clear that the Government is willing to purchase the insured mortgages necessary for the building of the $7,000 houses. Houses at this price can be built, with proper Government support, in the South, the Southwest, and in California. I doubt, however, if one can build $7,000 houses in New York, Boston, (hicago, or Detroit.
While we may have questions about the new program that is being offeredl, I believe that we ought to give it a reasonable chance for success. The President's Allvisory ('ommittee made it quite clear that the new program should be tried out on an experimental basis. The President, in his message to Congress on January 27, recommended that the public housing program be continued at the rate of 3.5,000 units a year for the next 4 years. In this the President was trying to face realities in regard to housing the people who would be displaced by the urban redevelopment program. It seems rather strange to me that the present bill makes no mention of the 35,000 units a year that the President recommend«l. I should add that if we are going to have 3.5,000 units, we will need many more authorizations.
Sections 401 through 411 of title IV of the bill (slum clearance and urban renewal) are regarded as amendments to title I of the Housing Act of 1949. We showd not take a pessimistic attitude toward this large program for the conservation of American cities. I have had occasion to point out in many cities in the past year the tendency toward the further spread of blight in their neardowntown areas. I have emphasized that public improvements were tending to crowd more people into already congested areas. I have pointed to the importance of conserving these near-downtown areas. I have given special attention to the problems of conservation in Chicago and St. Louis. I have participated in many neig:borhood discussions dealing with these problems. I have studied the conservation plans made by the various downtown officials. I have a great respect for these officials. They are honest, intelligent, and high-minded men. I know that they occupy an important place in the programs, but I am not convinced that they can succeed in their efforts without self-organization on the neighborhood basis. Any conservation program is going to work only insofar as the people primarily concerned are willing to take a hand in it. I know it is not easy to interpret this point of view to our experts. They are inclined to think that they and they alone understand the problems involved. I am sorry to say that I do not agree with their point of view. I would like to see neighborhood groups of all kinds, including all the religious groups, organize to a point where they can make the fullest use of the advice of experts. I would like to see the Federal programs administered in such a way as to stimulate real selforganization on the neighborhood basis. I do not want to see Government officials maintain complete and exclusive control over this program. There should be provision for joint planning with neighborhood groups, with all voluntary groups. It should be possible, moreover, to make personnel available to neighborhood groups to help them in carrying out their own plans.
When I speak about neighborhood conservation I am thinking about all the elements that enter into it, like the enforcement of city coles, repair of housing units, enforcement of health regulations- in fact, everything that enters into the rebuilding of the neighborhood.
I have had some close contacts with police departments in the enforcement of city codes. They are not going to enforce them if the necihbors do not want them enforced. I have seen a good deal of repair programs in local areas. I have found that when the natural leaders of the neighborhood take an interest and encourage the people in making their own repairs, something happens.
I have seen city repair programs that really price the housing units out of the reach of the present occupants. In order to make repair programs truly effective much of the work must be done on a self-help basis or on a contract basis.
This is what is being done in many successful programs at the present time. People must do a good part of the work themselves and they must join with their neighbors in the exchange of skills.
I am well aware that the building of good social organization on a neighborhood basis is not an easy task, but it can be done. We have had sufficient illustrations of neighborhood organization to test its practicability. We have the back-of-theyards movement in Chicago; we have many of the elements of good neighborhood organization in other sections of Chicago; we have the beginnings of neighborhood organization in St. Louis. We have the elements of such a program in a few other cities.
Monsignor O'GRADY. I have been in this discussion of housing both nationally and locally. I am glad we are approaching the utopia in this matter. And it looks from some of the testimony I have heard that all these agencies are going to work together, at last. I hope that is true.
I haven't seen it in operation in many of the cities in which I have worked very closely. Now, I am glad that, of course, also some attention is being given in connection with all of these fine programs, for renewal or redevelopment. I can't understand all these metaphysical distinctions, although I know quite a few slums—I suppose as many as almost anybody else. I say I have worked in them, and I have moved around in them, and I keep on doing so all the time.
I am glad that some attention is being given to public housing. I don't like to see large sections of this market taken over by Government. But I haven't found any substitute yet, and especially with all this development for some public housing.
I am glad that Senator Maybank has presented an amendment to this bill which would include specifically a provision for public housing
Now, of course, our original suggestion of this problem, of providing for slum dwellers and providing for new housing for them, in Ehose days we thought all the slum dwellers were poor people, and now,
of course, we find that about a third of them will qualify for this public housing. We hope that now, with this new program that you may be able to reduce that figure. But let us keep in mind the actual Lituations. That is one of the hardest things to do, I find, in this bill, o face realities locally. It is very difficult.
Now, we thought originally that 10 percent of our housing, new housing, should be public housing. Now, it is running, I think, outside of the large cities, about 1 percent, and we seem to have a hard ime holding onto the 1 percent, you see.
Now, I have, of course, recognized, also, and we all have—we have been working in this housing field—that it is a part of our overall economy, and, of course, in the 1930's we regarded it as a part of a cork program. We talked about housing first; we talked about it o a considerable degree in connection with work, providing it was a rood means of providing the economy, and providing work opportuniies for people who were unemployed. We thought that, of course, ve were to clear out one slum for every slum unit, for every new house hat we built, new public house.
I am coming, now, to one central point that I want to emphasize, ind that is the competition between different interests for the use of ity land. If there is any cooperation among those interests, I would ike to find such cooperation. I would travel thousands of miles to ee it. Now, we need land for educational purposes, and, of course,
we all recognize the importance of schools, but the educators are still proceeding to acquire land for building schools, and new development in schools, without recognition of any other interests in the field.
I saw evidence of that in the city of Cincinnati last Sunday. I saw where whole areas had been cleared out for new schools, and thus, reducing the housing supply in those areas of special need.
Now, the health people are going ahead on the same basis. They are acquiring land too, for new health centers, and now, of course, the highway people are going ahead, and I have never seen them in conference with anybody else. Maybe they are doing that in Washington; maybe they are getting together. But certainly they are not getting together in Detroit.
I don't think they are even on speaking terms. And there is no provision whatsoever in most cities for relocating of anybody who is displaced by any highways.
I had an opportunity of seeing one highway, the plans for one highway. Houses were being torn down at great volume, and, of course, for quite awhile, then they were in the better sections of the city, they told me all the people here, of course, wouldn't have any trouble in being relocated. If there is any such thing in American cities as relocation—I find it hard to determine what relocation is, anyhow. If it is a paper plan, that is one thing. If it is actual relocation, that is another thing. But I must say, I have seen very little relocation. I have seen all sorts of plans on paper, but I have seen-of course, I have seen them relocated in public housing, that is right. They will give me a project. That is what the people will tell me. I asked a family, “What are your plans, now!". They say, "We
, ? don't have any. Give me a project.”. That is what they have told me in this project of Chicago which has been so beautifully described before this committee, and my guess is, and my conviction is, that the 700 families finally left in that area have been cleared at the expense of spreading blight in other sections of Chicago.
If that is the type of relocation you want, you ought to face the facts in regard to it. That is, is this relocation in Chicago making for the spreading of blight? I think it is. And I think what is being replaced by the highway is spreading blight.
If you take a family and relocate that family, I don't think there is any such thing in Chicago, I couldn't find it, anyhow. And I certainly have been around the areas of Chicago a great deal. I know some of them a great deal, and I haven't found, outside of public housing, any relocation, and I would give a great deal to see the actual relocation. I have seen places in which families have been moved, yes. Some of them have relocated themselves fairly well, but I think some of them have crowded into already crowded quarters. And I don't want to get into much detail about the description of the conditions in those crowded quarters in Chicago. It should be well known anyhow. The fire hazards, the health hazards, and all these things that result from overcrowding, from the pressure of population, and housing, which is in short supply.
Now, I saw some evidence of what is happening in this relocation in the city of Cincinnati only last Sunday. I was interested in seeing what plans they have for relocating 900 families in a new project and in a new area which is about to be cleared. I talked to several of the
people and we moved around that area last Sunday and visited some of those places from which people are to be moved.
Now, of course, it is fortunate that they have a new public-housing project in the outlying areas, into which some of them can be movedabout a third of them. But they tell me, now, that they are developing new programs for relocating families. But they don't have much hope of finding any place in which to relocate them, because the housing supply in downtown Cincinnati has been gradually reduced, and the population has increased since 1950. The population was decreasing up to 1950, and now it has increased since that time, and the supply of housing is growing shorter, even with the addiition of 2,000 publichousing units.
The supply of housing is being cut into all the time by all sorts of things, all sorts of improvements. Now, they don't have much hope of finding it except by having them crowd into other areas. Now, I know there is some movement in Cincinnati, as there is in Chicago and in Detroit, and some colored families, rather high-income families, are moving out in small groups into the outlying areas, and without spreading blight, I believe.
That, to me, is a somewhat encouraging sight. I visited one area in Cincinnati last Sunday, visited several families in that area that had moved in, and I think that is one of the encouraging signs. But usually, it is a mass movement, and that means you get a spread of blight. The white families run away, and that is what those of us who have been interested in local neighborhood organizations in Chicago have been struggling with in the past 2 or 3 years.
I think we have made some progress in stemming that tide and getting a more regulated flow of people through those areas. But there is still a great threat, however, to the spread of blight in many of the new areas in Chicago, as there is in other cities.
Now, it is interesting to see what is happening in some of those areas. I visited an area in Detroit the other day—when I knew it about 20 years ago, they used to be very nice houses, 20-room houses. I visited several of them the other day, and families have moved in there. I wouldn't use the term "relocation.” They have moved in there themselves. That is what really happened. They crowded in there as best they could, and these houses have been divided up, now, into 2-room apartments, and those apartments sometimes have 2 families.
I visited one apartment. One man told me that he and his wife lived there, and they had, for a good while. He said that about a year ago he came home one evening and his wife told him they had some visitors, that a new family had moved in on them, with a father and mother and three children. And he said that was quite a common occurrence and they had lived with them for several months during this past year. Finally, they were able to find a place; they found it on their own, again.
Now, that area is being blighted, as I see it, and yet it is supposed to be one of the conservation areas of the city. I saw another area in which a repair program-it was supposed to be one of these pilot projects on rehabilitation and it was somewhat encouraging. It certainly wasn't what happened here on Capitol Hill. You have a fine rehabilitation program that takes the houses entirely out of the reach