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posts in our organization sought to emulate the experience of the Wilmington group but were unsuccessful. Of course that is understandable because war-housing projects presented special and rather limited circumstances.
Cooperative housing projects, through legislation such as H. R. 6618, would provide saving to the individual in construction, financing, and maintenance costs. The Wilmington project was constructed under the Lanham Act and the rather modest cost of the project permitted a 40-year term of financing by FHA at 312 percent interest. An additional saving was and is being realized through self-help as most of the maintenance work is done by the cooperative owners themselves.
The Fiftieth National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which convened in August 1949, unanimously adopted a resolution in favor of direct Government loans to cooperatives with a maximum amortization period of 60 years at the going Federal rate of interest. I am submitting with this statement a copy of this resolution.
Although the pending bill is a substitute for the provisions for cooperatives in the bill H. R. 6070, previouslly considered by this committee, we are realistic enough to accept the substitute as having distinct advantage over the original bill. The direct-loan principle is by any standards an extreme one, and ought not to be resorted to so long as private enterprise, with reasonable Federal assistance, can do the job. Apropos of this principle is the statement issued by our national legislative committee on October 30, 1949, that private enterprise and private financing must be given every encouragement, short of direct subsidy, to accomplish our national housing objectives. We welcome, therefore, the provision in this bill which provides a definite role for private capital in the financing of cooperative projects.
Another change in this bill over the original cooperative legislation does not, in our considered opinion, constitute an improvement. Rather it creates, we fear, a decided impediment to the smooth functioning of a national cooperative housing program. We refer to the provision in the amendment which provides that the program shall be administered by an official appointed by the Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, and that the official so designated would be the head of a division in the office of the Administrator.
We feel that the cooperative housing program is of sufficient importance to warrant a form of organization comparable to the Federal Housing Administration, the Public Housing Administration, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System. Such an organization would provide the dignity, caliber of leadership, and responsibility so vital to a program of this nature. We are fearful that under the language of the amendment the cooperative program might be relegated to a subordinate role. We strongly urge that the Congress not only approve the principle of cooperative housing as set forth in this amendment, but give the cooperative program the organizational weapon best suited to carry out its important functions; and that weapon we insist is not provided in the language presently before the committee.
Our endorsement of this cooperative housing bill represents what we hope is the final phase of the VFW comprehensive national housing program originally launched by our 1946 national encampment.
Public Law 171, Eighty-first Congress, providing for the construction of 810,000 public low-rent housing units was one of the planks in the VFW program. Another, and by far the most important, is the program for encouraging participation of private enterprise in the section 501 GI home-loan program. We are grateful that the Congress recently expanded the secondary market for such loans and we look to other provisions of H. R. 6070, such as the elimination of the section 505 loan and the extending of the amortization period to 30 years, to bring the GI home-loan program closer to the original intent of the Congress.
However, despite the encouraging participation in the GI homeloan program, we find on all sides evidence that the middle-income families—those in the $2,500 to $4,500 bracket—are unable to participate to advantage in this veterans' program. For one thing the cost of homes, particularly in the urban areas of the North and Northeast have made home-acquisition for this group almost prohibitive even under the liberal financing program of the GI bill of rights.
One hundred percent financing at 4 percent interest of even a $10,000 house is of no benefit to the veteran whose income is only $3,000 per year. Unfortunately, many veterans in this group have been forced to purchase homes beyond their means. Others are forced to defer the purchase of a home for many years until they have acquired a sufficient down payment so as to bring down the monthly payments. In the interim these veterans continue to rear their children in an unsuitable living environment.
The solution for this group lies in the formulation of a program that will not only reduce the cost of construction, but also of financing and maintenance.
We believe the formula is provided through the nonprofit features in this legislation. We feel that the enactment of this bill will bring closer to realization the goal of the VFW of "A home for every veteran."
RESOLUTION No. 364
VETERANS NONPROFIT COOPERATIVES
Whereas the Veterans of Foreign Wars has for the past several years advocated a comprehensive housing program including public housing to satisfy the needs of the lower-income groups; and
Whereas the Veterans of Foreign Wars support of public housing has been largely in the public interest and less than half of the members and potential members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars can qualify for admission to public housing, the time has now come to seek legislation to satisfy the needs of the middle-income groups in which the larger portion of Veterans of Foreign Wars membership falls ; and
Whereas one of the major fields in which economy may be practiced is in the financing of the home and in mass production; and
Whereas private sources appear reluctant to advance loans to veterans mutual groups; Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Fiftieth National Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, That the national organization seek enactment of Federal legislation providing for:
(a) Direct Government loans to veterans' nonprofit cooperatives. (6) Loans made at going Federal rate of interest (approximately 242 percent).
(c) Loans amortized over the useful life of the property but not to exceed 60 years.
(d) A separate agency under jurisdiction of the Guaranty Loan Division of the Veterans Administration to administer this direct loan program.
Approved by the Fiftieth National Encampment, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Miami, Fla., August 21 to 26, 1949.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions?
Mr. DEANE. Mr. Chairman, I want to take this opportunity to commend Mr. Williamson for his presentation. I would like to ask how many VFW posts you have in the country?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. A little over 10,000 now.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. About a million and a quarter. About one million of those were World War II veterans.
Mr. DEANE. This cooperative in North Carolina, is one that I know of and is one that should command respect of other posts throughout the country. You mentioned that several of these posts have already built cooperatives. I wonder if Mr. Williamson would be able to submit for the record a list of these posts?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I will be able to.
Mr. DEANE. Are you going to include as part of the statement the resolution adopted ?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Yes; that is attached to the statement.
The CHAIRMAN. We thank you very much. You represent an organization which has had its voice heard in the legislative laws of the country and we are glad to have your views.
Mr. MULTER. I would like to ask one or two questions. (Discussion off the record.)
Mr. MULTER. Mr. Williamson, the cooperatives that you refer to, do any of those include single-family dwellings?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Yes; they do. The Wilmington project I think that was 2-, 3-, and 4-family unit dwellings. I know one of our VFW
, posts is in the development state but they are running into difficulty on financing and they are planning single, detached buildings.
Mr. MULTER. In other words, your experience is that a bill of this kind can be of assistance to the small communities as well as the large metropolitan centers?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Very much. We find from our experience and history that in the smaller communities the average VFW post is really a community center, particularly in communities of 12,000, 15,000, and 20,000. I visualize that if this bill is enacted, that there will be many, dozens, if not hundreds, of these VFW posts in communities of 15,000 to 20,000 that will organize cooperatives and try to obtain the benefits of this legislation. In fact, from our own standpoint, we anticipate more participation by those posts than we do our posts in the great urban areas.
Mr. MULTER. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. NICHOLSON. Does the Veterans of Foreign Wars believe in the Government competing with other businesses in the country?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. That is a very difficult question; at least I find it difficult to answer yes or no. We certainly do believe that in our industrial society that there is a definite need for Federal cooperation and Federal assistance, as well as, to some degree, Federal regulation of private industry. We don't believe that this legislation is competitive with private industry.
Mr. NICHOLSON. You recommend that we give direct loans, that the Government give direct loans to these propositions.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Of course, the basis of the VFW resolution was the fact that the Congress in the original GI bill of rights tried to do everything that it could to assist the veteran to obtain a home but it
just didn't work out for the great bulk of the veterans. All the convention was trying to do in the resolution was to point out another way to accomplish the objective and the intent of the Congressmen who enacted the GI bill.
Mr. NICHOLSON. Of course, I belong to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and have for a great many years, but I never hear these things taken up in a post meeting. It is all done by some national group that was picked out by the convention.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. There were many delegates to that convention that were quite interested in assistance to obtain homes that had nothing to do with the national organization. In fact, as assistant legislative director, I sometimes would be very happy if they wouldn't come to the convention with all the ideas that they get on the local level.
Mr. NICHOLSON. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Our next witness is Mr. Weitzer. Mr. Weitzer, identify yourself.
Mr. WEITZER. My name is Bernard Weitzer. I am national legislative representative, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF BERNARD WEITZER, LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTA
TIVE, JEWISH WAR VETERANS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Mr. WEITZER. On behalf of our organization, I am happy to express our appreciation to your committee for the privilege of presenting cur viewpoint on H. R. 6618.
The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America at its fifty-fourth annual encampment, October 19 to 23, 1949, at Miami Beach, Fla., approved in essence what is now H. R. 6618. Since H. R. 6618 has been proposed, I have checked with our appropriate officials so that I am authorized to present our views.
No doubt you will hear comments on this bill from opponents that the provisions therein are un-American. Do they really mean that cooperatives—teamwork—are un-American? Practically all of those who appear before you are representing groups of individuals or institutions which are themselves members of associations essentially cooperative in their make-up and purpose. They get together to do things for themselves in the fields of credit information, self-improvement, promotion, and in presenting their views to Congress rather than hire independent commercial organizations which are organized to render similar services at a profit. And frequently, they get the help of Government agencies which have been authorized for that specific purpose.
Teamwork is exemplified in every phase of American life—in athletics, in the assembly lines of factories, and in the organization of hundreds of thousands of corporations which transact, by far, the major part of American business with the sums, large and small, pooled in the capital of these corporations.
Further, cooperatives similar to those contemplated in this bill, have functioned successfully for years. I am myself a member of the Southern State Farm Cooperative and my experience with it has been a happy and profitable one. Through cooperatives, farmers have been able to cut the costs of the things they buy and they have also been able to cut the costs of selling their produce. Through cooperatives, aided by Government financing, they have been able to bring the convenience of electricity and telephone to their homes. That has been good not only for the farmers but for everybody.
The private nonprofit cooperative housing corporations which the bill before you proposes to assist with technical advice and with lowinterest financing, will enable hundreds of thousands of families to use cooperatives to realize their ambition for home ownership-ownership of homes which will provide decent family living at a price which they can pay without dangerously restricting their expenditures for food, clothing, health, and education.
You have heard from Administrator Foley how under section 608 financing $80 is the minimum monthly rental available. Under the generally accepted rule, that is about the top monthly housing expenditure which should be paid by a family making $4,000 a year.
Nothing has been provided in that category for the millions of families whose income range below $80 per week down to about $50 per week. You would probably find, too, that these $80-per-month rentals will not secure the kind of living quarters which will meet the needs of a family with two or three children.
Despite the million homes built last year, no substantial dent has yet been made in the accumulated housing shortage, particularly in the housing shortage for that group of our population provided for in H. R. 6618 introduced by your chairman.
There is a very good reason why housing rental or ownership for that group of our population has had so little consideration. There have been easier, quicker, and bigger profits in building for the largerincome groups. Now that the market among these larger-income groups shrinks, there is some interest among the builders in providing for the tremendous need for housing with a lower price tag. Thus far, however, that interest has been manifested far too often in providing houses and dwelling units of minimum floor-space requirements which are inadequate for decent family living. The price tag rather than the needs for decent family living has been the primary consideration. The label of economy should fool no one, as applied to these dwelling units with 500 or 600 feet of floor space. Instead of being labeled “economy” they should be labeled "parsimonystinginess—closeness.” That parsimony is what the cooperative can eliminate so as to assure homes which will be adequate for normal, decent, family life at a monthly cost which is in the pocketbook range for those whom the bill will aid.
The special interest of the Jewish War Veterans in this group is founded, in part, on the fact that such a large percentage of veterans are included among those whose income range is adequate to meet about $50 to $80 per month housing costs and who should have and must have housing which will permit a decent family life. These requirements are, of course, not confined to veterans. They are the requirements of all Americans. Unless these requirements are met, it will spell frustration for the present generation and blighted lives for the coming generation on which we depend for the kind of citizen who