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Mr. MULTER. I would like to have you clarify for us just what you were referring to on the first page of your statement when you say that you want to make clear that "By action of our thirty-first annual national convention, held in Philadelphia, Pa., August 29 through September 1, 1949, the national legislative committee has been directed to exert every possible effort to secure the speedy enactment of the middle-income housing bill as favorably reported by the Senate Banking and Currency Committee. S. 2246 containing Senator Maybank's amendment, has been reported favorably by the Senate Banking and Currency Committee to the Senate, and Senator Lucas has stated that that bill will be called up before the Senate shortly. Is that the bill you are referring to which, as amended, sets up the cooperative organization which is called for in H. R. 6618? Senator Maybank's amendment to S. 2246 is the same as our bill 6618 that we are considering now.
Mr. DINGER. That is right.
Mr. MULTER. Is that what you are supporting or is it the original S. 2246 which didn't have the Maybank amendment?
Mr. DINGER. I understand your question. Our national convention meets once a year, and when they met on the 29th through the 1st of September 1949, S. 2246 had been favorably reported and was on the Senate calendar. That was the first opportunity that the convention had an opportunity to look at the bill as a whole and say, "We are it or we are against it." By action of a resolution during that convention, which I have here and will be glad to insert into the record, the national legislative committee has been directed to exert every possible effort to speed its enactment.
In the next paragraph of my statement here I point out that in view of this mandate we have made a study of the amendment, the Maybank amendment, which is the same as H. R. 6618 being considered here.
It is our considered opinion that the benefits contained in the original or in the title of S. 2246 are substantially implemented by providing a system whereby private capital can be utilized and thus eliminating the objections to direct Government loans. We think that this amendment will have the same desirable effect as the previous title did, which called for a 100-percent direct loan. Basically, we are for that, but we believe that this will accomplish the same desirable results.
Mr. MULTER. There was a hot fight-was there not?-inspired by certain interests in order to get the convention on record against the cooperative feature of the bill.
Mr. DINGER. Not to my knowledge. There were some fiery arguments in the veterans' housing committee, but not on this issue, not on the question of cooperatives, to my knowledge.
Mr. MULTER. You can say that the Legion is committed to the idea of cooperative housing?
Mr. DINGER. Very definitely.
Mr. MULTER. Has the question of interest rate been discussed at all? Mr. DINGER. Only in respect to GI loans, where we insisted that that remain at 4 percent. I will be glad to read this resolution.
Mr. MULTER. Didn't the discussion revolve around the fact that by cooperative housing you could lower the cost both of building and maintenance; is not that so?
Mr. DINGER. Yes. As an example, in the Baton Rouge project, which is several years old now, where their only purpose was to make the initial saving which testimony on this bill so far hasn't involved, that being the acquisition of land and the use of on-site construction, and self-help, and proper land planning and elimination of speculative practices produced about a $1,000 savings in Baton Rouge on a $7,700 project, $7,700 house. That is one of the things which has not been testified to in this bill as a potential saving.
Mr. MULTER. The Baton Rouge project, was that one of singlefamily dwelling or multidwelling?
Mr. DINGER. Single-family dwellings.
Mr. MULTER. Single-family dwellings?
I would like to also make this a part of the record with our statement. I think it would be to the interest of the committee to look this over. [Indicating.]
Mr. MULTER. Is it the considered opinion of you and your associates that this can be taken advantage of for those who want single-family dwellings, as well as those who wish to live in a multifamily dwelling? Mr. DINGER. Yes, sir; there is no question about it. I think that way it will be more attractive in the lesser-populated area.
Mr. RAINS. Is that contemplated, do you think, in the legislation itself that it can operate with single, individual family units and not in one building, so to speak?
Mr. DINGER. Yes; I believe that that is provided for in this legislation.
Mr. RAINS. That, of course, would make it have more popular appeal in smaller areas, in areas of small towns, areas of that kind; would it not?
Mr. DINGER. Yes. This thing differs slightly from our original Veterans' Homestead Act approach to it, in that there would be no permanent financing on individual, single-family units. The association or the corporation, nonprofit corporation, would remain in existence for the full term of the corporation's loan.
Mr. RAINS. You see, in the big metropolitan areas of the country, land is a big problem, expensive; and that is, of course, one of the reasons why they build these tremendous apartments and in the other areas of the country. In my section of the South, land is of no problem. They would not buy them if they were close together; they would not have them. So, if you can develop in this legislation the same kind of financing for individual units, you are going to get a lot more people interested in it.
Mr. DINGER. That has been our approach to the thing all along: that the cooperative principal could be used for acquiring individual housing units at prices that the average income veteran could afford to pay. We have several other ways that it can be done, but this is the first real approach to bring the cost down within the range of the average income veteran.
Mr. RAINS Thank you.
Mr. MULTER. I request unanimous consent that literature and the resolution that Mr. Dinger referred to be printed in full in this record.
(The resolution referred to is as follows:)
ENDORSEMENT OF SPARKMAN BILL
RESOLUTION NO. 653
Whereas the American Legion has consistently urged the formulation of a complete and well-rounded housing program for the aid of veterans of all income groups and at its last annual convention adopted a specific program for that purpose; and
Whereas the various specific proposals which have been advanced by the American Legion have been presented to Congress and, in part, have been enacted into law; and
Whereas the uncompleted portion of the Legion program is embodied in legislation now pending before Congress, known as the Sparkman bill (S. 2246), which includes, among others, provision for liberalization of existing FHA-loan-insurance and GI-loan-guaranty laws, a secondary market for GI loans and direct GI loans where private loans are not available, maintenance of the present 4-percent GI interest rate, elimination of the costly FHA-GI combination loan, direct Government loans to nonprofit veterans' cooperatives, and veterans' preference in the disposition of war housing; and
Whereas this legislation is expected to receive consideration in the near future at this session of Congress: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the American Legion in convention assembled at Philadelphia, Pa., August 29-31, September 1, 1949, That the national legislative committee of the American Legion be instructed to exert every effort to secure its speedy enactment into law; *
Mr. DEANE. Assuming that you had a block of land and it is acquired as a cooperative, with each individual member building his own home, this would be a cooperative effort in your views?
Mr. DINGER. No; I am speaking about the development of a housing project, where you have plenty of land that can be acquired at a reasonable rate and the construction of individual houses, individual free-standing housing in a project, such as this Baton Rouge project. Mr. DEANE. That is what I am speaking about. Here is a block of land but it is not built as one unit but built as separate units.
Mr. DINGER. That is right.
Mr. DEANE. On page 3 of your statement, you say:
We feel strongly, however, that the committee should give very careful consideration to the reasons presented for providing that the program be administered by a division director in the Office of the Administrator, rather than by a constituent agency as proposed in the original title III.
Please go into detail and explain why you take this position.
Mr. DINGER. Various veterans' organizations and public-interest groups who have been working for the past 2 years on this program have developed the thinking, through their experience, that the present FHA local offices often have no desire to give too much thought to this cooperative idea. I think probably some of the other witnesses might be able to testify a little more in detail on that subject, but there is a general feeling that if this isn't put into a constituent agency, where it will have special consideration, specialized administration, that it may get lost in all of the various other programs and responsibilities of the Housing and Home Finance agencies.
We feel as though this is a step, a new step, in a direction which we haven't ever experienced in this country before and we believe that it should have special emphasis in the attitude at the administrative level and, also, at the local offices level.
Mr. DEANE. I can appreciate that this is a program which, if initiated, will need vigorous, strong leadership, but what concerns me is
the growth of an administrative unit, both at the Washington and State levels.
Mr. DINGER. I think it would be very desirable to have a person specialized in this background of this program in your local offices. I think that that could be handled within the present local offices that you have, but I think there should be some person there given the special responsibilities of handling this cooperative program.
Mrs. WOODHOUSE. Referring to the personality of the person heading up this program, whether he is the head of a constituent agency or the head of a division, if we are going to set up a constituent agency with every new type of policy, are we not going to have a fearful conglomeration of only semicoordinated units, and do you not think in time we should have an over-all coordinated housing program?
Mr. DINGER. Yes; I think there is a lot in what you say, although it is our position that it should be a constituent agency. As I said previously, I am probably not as well qualified to speak on the reasons as to why it should be that way than some of the others, Mrs. Woodhouse.
Mrs. WOODHOUSE. Do you not think that local FHA officials have not been very cooperative?
Mr. DINGER. That has been our experience.
Mrs. WOODHOUSE. And the division of the FHA would not have to do with this particular program. It would be handled by the director of the division?
Mr. DINGER. At the Washington level; yes. Of course, our complaint does not come from the Washington level. Our complaint comes from the local level, from the field offices, where there just isn't too much recognition of this cooperative method of developing houses.
Mrs. WOODHOUSE. If I might make the suggestion, I think it would be a very good thing to bring specific cases of noncooperation of this type of thing to the attention of the people here on this committee, because I think we all want the FHA to serve the public it is supposed to serve and not just set itself up as a hierarchy.
Mr. DINGER. I think other witnesses that will testify will go into detail on that subject.
Mr. DEANE. I am glad you made the statement that you think the bottleneck is not at Washington level but at the State and local levels. Mr. DINGER. I say that that is where our complaints come from. We have no complaint with the operation of it at the Washington level, because they fit right into the title II program.
Mr. DEANE. That applies to the housing program in general, so far as the cost of living is concerned?
Mr. DINGER. I beg pardon.
Mr. DEANE. I say you have no complaint on the programs from the Washington level?
Mr. DINGER. No. I think the answer to your question is no, if I understood it correctly. Do we have any complaint about the operation of the housing administration here at the Washington level? Mr. DEANE. Yes.
Mr. DINGER. No.
Mr. MULTER. At that point, I know that in the New York region of FHA during the last year there has been a big change of thinking as far as cooperative housing is concerned and they are making every
effort to channel people into cooperatives. I think they have been doing considerable good work along that line. Is that in accord with your knowledge?
Mr. DINGER. Yes; I happen to know that especially in Oklahoma City and so far as I know throughout the State of Oklahoma that quite a number of cooperative housing programs are being developed and I think it is probably almost directly responsible to the State director of the program. I think that he has done a wonderful job there in getting the various interest groups and building people interested in that program, but that sort of administration of the program locally isn't a general experience throughout the country.
Mr. MULTER. I think in line with what Mrs. Woodhouse has suggested, this committee would be very happy to have any information as to any areas where there is not cooperation along that line or any other line within their jurisdiction.
Mr. DINGER. I believe I may have used the wrong word in saying there is not full cooperation. I would like to say that the general experience has been that the directors of the local offices have not been sympathetic to that approach. I have no facts to show that they haven't or have refused to have anything to do with it, but there is a general indication that there are other FHA programs which are more important and should receive priority in the operation of their local offices. I don't want to make any specific complaint on that question. I merely bring that up as a subject which was discussed by the various veterans' organizations and public-interest groups who have worked over the past 2 years in developing this housing legislation.
Mrs. WOODHOUSE. I failed to ask you one question on your cooperatives. What has been their size, Mr. Dinger? What has been your smallest number? How many houses, for how many families, have been built by the project?
Mr. DINGER. That is, your are speaking of projects developed bv American Legion posts?
Mrs. WOODHOUSE. That is right.
Mr. DINGER. I can get that information for you.
Mrs. WOODHOUSE. I would be very glad to have that because it is in line with what Mr. Rains was saying. I think that would be very helpful, because I would be interested in seeing what this bill would do. Mr. MCKINNON. Can you tell me if you have any figures that would show how many veterans in the middle-income class still need housing and are still looking for homes?
Mr. DINGER. I am afraid that those figures would be pretty hard to present. I believe the 1950 census, which we are just entering into, has the authority to make certain housing inquiries.
Mr. MCKINNON. It will be too late for us in studying this bill. Mr. DINGER. I think so. We are looking forward to getting quite a bit of detailed information from those surveys, but our estimates are based upon the reports that come into our housing committee through the local post housing committees and through the department housing committees and our estimate last year was that 67 percent of the veterans of World War II were within this middle-income group.
(Chairman Spence was called from the committee room and Mr. Patman took the chair.)