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Before commenting about the bill more specifically, let us review briefly the goals set by Congress during these two years just past.
WHERE ARE WE HEADED ?
The Congress has committed the nation to vast strides forward in housing, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, placed upon the Department of Housing and Urban Development and upon all executive departments and agencies, the obligation to administer their programs and activities relating to housing and urban development in a manner affirmatively to further the purpose of fair housing without regard to race, color, creed or national origin.
In the 1968 Housing and Urban Development Act, the Congress "affirms the national goal, as set forth in section 2 of the Housing Act of 1949, of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family". The Con. gress found this 1949 goal had "not been fully realized" for many of the Nation's lower income families. The housing programs authorized by that Act were designed to assist families with incomes so low that they could not otherwise decently house themselves. The Act declared : "the highest priority and emphasis should be given to meeting the housing needs of those families for which the national goal has not become a reality ...". (Emphasis added).
The proposed Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970 in its Declaration of Policy: states: “It is the policy of the United States to promote the general welfare of the Nation by employing its funds and credit, as provided in the Act, to assist the several States and their political subdivisions to remedy the unsafe unsanitary housing conditions and the acute shortage of decent, safe and sanitary dwellings for families of low income and, consistent with the objectives of the Act, to vest in local public housing agencies the maximum amount of responsibility in the administration of their housing programs." (Emphasis added.)
RESTRICTIVE LAND-USE AND ZONING PRACTICES Let us move on to the bill before you now. The Administration has recognized the problem of local zoning and land-use practices as an obstacle to national housing goals. Accordingly, Secretary Romney submitted to the Banking and Currency Committee draft language of a section to be included in the 1970 Housing and Urban Development Act. This section would prohibit certain actions on the part of local jurisdictions that would prevent the availability of reasonable amounts of federally assisted low- and moderate-income housing. We cite the language proposed because it is not a part of the bill :
SEC. (a) No general or special-purpose unit of local government (or other agency having official jurisdiction over regions or sub-areas within a State or States) shall, in the exercise of powers with respect to planning, zoning, subdivision control, building codes or permits, or other matters affecting land use for areas that are undeveloped or predominantly undeveloped but that are in the path of development, prevent the reasonable provision in such areas of lowand moderate-income housing eligible for Federal assistance in a manner inconsistent with any State or local comprehensive or master plans for such areas.
(b) No such unit or agency shall, in the exercise of such powers for any area, discriminate against low- and moderate-income housing on the basis of its eligibility for Federal assistance.
(c) If the Attorney General of the United States, after consultation with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, believes that either the provisions of subsections (a) or (b) of this section have been violated, he may bring a civil action in any appropriate United States District Court to enforce compliance with this section. Any person who would be entitled to financial assistance or any other benefit, direct or indirect, under a federally assisted housing program may bring a civil action in any appropriate United States District Court without regard to the amount in controversy or in any appropriate State or local court or general jurisdiction to enforce compliance with, or to obtain equitable or preventive relief under, this section, and may request such relief in any court whenever relevant in connection with a defense to any suit or action brought against person in that court.
Secretary Romney described this proposed section as “one of the most important provisions of the bill." We concur, for unless wars can be found to
* Title Il-Public Rental Housing and Home-Ownership Assistance Program. Sec. 1.
counteract special zoning and other actions which result in excluding or extensively limiting this type of housing, the nation cannot meet the housing goal set by Congress for 6 million units for low- and moderate-income housing.
League support for judicial relief against exclusionary practices, however, does not mean support for the exact wording as presented in the draft. Vor does it mean the League thinks court action is the only way to achieve zoning, land-use and/or codes which would be more conducive to achievement of housing goals set by Congress.
The League urges the Committee to give the Secretary's proposal serious consideration and to report legislation to effect his recommendation. To add such a provision to the 1970 Housing and Urban Development Act seems a logical extension of the policies adopted in the Civil Rights and Housing Acts of 1968, as cited earlier. It would re-affirm Congressional intent that housing programs and policies already articulated will be carried out to stimulate production, distribution and availability of decent housing in a way to alleviate deep-seated stratification and segregation by race and income.
The League has no specific language to recommend to the Committee, but we hope you will take into consideration a few questions which came to mind as we thought through the proposal, such as: whether the language is too restrictive in delineating the areas to which it applies; whether or not it might be expanded to what a “reasonable" amount of lower-income housing might be ; and whether its coverage should be broadened to apply to all federally assisted housing.
The League realizes that zoning and land-use practices are not the lone obstacle to building sufficient housing for lower-income families. There are deepseated social factors, high interest rates, fiscal problems of cities, unreasonable code restrictions, land speculation, and even certain types of court action, which taken singly, or in tandem, have the effect of unreasonable restraints against low-and moderate-income housing and against minorities.
League support for the Secretary's proposal should not be thought in any way to denigrate the practices of zoning and land-use planning. We know that these practices can and should be used to protect against discrimination as well as to provide suitable environments for living and working in a community.
What the League is concerned about now, and what it wishes to stimulate awareness of, is the need to recognize that in the past, decisions on zoning and land-use planning have been reached with little or no attention to their impact on availability of housing to lower-income families. The results of these decisions have thus often been to confine lower-income housing to certain areas or to erclude it entirely.
Such exclusionary practices cannot continue unbridled. The time has come when it is necessary for all communities to consider the kinds of affirmative action they can take to reverse the restrictive trends of the past. Most will want to do so; but in cases where local action violates access to housing for any group, it seems only right that the Attorney General or injured citizens should have the right to bring suit to gain relief.
ROMNEY'S MAJOR GOALS
The League believes it valuable to look briefly at the goals the Secretary sees in the Act as introduced and to express our hope that Committee members will devote special attention to a determination as to whether the Act it reports fits the goals. While considering the four goals delineated by Secretary Romney. it will be valuable to bear in mind the policy stated in the 1968 Housing and Urban Development Act in its requirement to give “highest priority" to meeting the needs of lower income families and to the emphasis placed upon loror income housing in the proposed 1970 Act. As Secretary Romney stated it:
“The first major goal of the legislation is to improve the capacity of our housing programs to stimulate the production of a large volume of dirrlling
units for low, moderate and middle income families." The League of Women Voters does not doubt that simplification of honsing programs, and cutting down the maze of regulations and processing requirements rould encourage some of the more efficient producers of housing to expand their participation in federal housing programs. However, we should like to raise these questions:
Does the use of the term "middle income" families mean a new emphasis Firect subsidy for that group of people?
2. Should middle income families be eligible at all for 235 or 236 housing?
"The second goal of the legislation is to make our subsidized housing programs more responsive to the needs of local communities by gearing income limits . . . and construction costs ... on income and cost factors prevalent in the local communities throughout the country.” We agree with the purpose; but in our reading of the proposed legislation, the following kinds of questions arose :
1. Would the provision for a nation-wide formula for eligibility, based on an area's median income, and which would require that 809 of families eligible could not exceed 80% of the median income of the area, afford sufficient flexibility in communities where land and building prices have increased greatly out of proportion to the national average?
2. Would it help local communities if more specific provisions were written into the legislation to clarify standards for space and other amenities--or if the term "minimum" were more clearly defined? One of the problems in gaining acceptance for lower-income housing in any area is the lack in many instances of adequate space for recreation and the reluctance of officials to permit attention to pleasing design.
“The third major goal of the legislation is to distribute the benefits of our subsidized housing program in a more equitable fashion among the low
and moderate income families eligible to participate in these programs." 1. The League is not sure that the effect of the legislation as proposed will not be a hardship for the lower-income families already in public housing units or in cooperatives for which contracts have already been signed, setting the amounts of rent to be paid. Is it necessary that the income eligibility formulas be made retroactive? Could they be applied only to new housing, or to present tenants in such a way as not to cause additional or acute hardship?
2. Is it in keeping with the goal of helping those families most unable to provide housing for themselves to require that existing allowances for the first two children (of $300 each) in determining income eligibility be elminated ?
3. Under the Administration proposal for uniform requirements for all assisted housing programs, eligible tenants would be required to pay 20% of the first $3500 of income, plus 25% of any income above that amount. Many studies indicate that lowest income groups pay the highest percentage of income toward housing. Will this requirement, applied across the board, work a disproportionate hardship on the lowest income people? Would it allow the flexibility necessary for local officials to permit tenants sufficient remaining income for clothing, education, transportation to employment, recreation and a few other amenities?
4. If housing payment requirements for lower income people leave them insufficient money for other needs, can the people be expected to become a real part of the larger community?
"The fourth major goal of the legislation is to include the optimum number of low income families in our rental and homeounership programs by sufficient subsidy to enable tenants to occupy a substantial percentage of
the units produced." The League supports the provisions which will make it easier for the lower income families to take advantage of the home ownership programs and housing provided under the rent supplement program; but we have questions.
1. We wonder whether or not it is wise to limit tenants in the assisted rental programs and rent supplement programs to exclusive occupancy by only "the very poor"? Presently, the program permits some tenants in these units whose incomes are above the limit and who pay the full rate for housing—with no subsidy. Should not this practice be continued to contribute to the greater economic unity which is desirable?
2. Who will determine what the “optimum” number of low income families will be for rental and home ownership programs? The local community with a minimum standard formula provided by law, but which they may vary above that standard as local conditions permit or require? Or a fixed, nationally applied standard ?
The League of Women Voters believes this important Housing and Urban Development Act aims in the right direction. We think, however, that there is serious question of possible injustice, to the very poor and a degree of uncertainty as to whether or not it would move the Federal Government into an expanded
program of subsidies for middle-income families at the expense of aid to the very poor.
If the end result of the bill should be to hasten reaching the numerical housing goal set by Congress but at the same time should create greater hardship for lower income families, then it would serve to entrench the divisions in our nation rather than to alleviate them. That would be tragic.
For that reason, the League believes it more important to achieve the right kind of legislation than to report out a Housing and Urban Development Act for 1970. We are confident that you share this concern.
LEGAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES FOR THE ELDERLY,
Washington, D.C., August 7, 1970. Mr. CARL A. S. COAN, Staff Director, Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs, Committee on
Banking and Currency, New Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. DEAR MR. Coan: I am enclosing a statement on the Workable Program for Community Improvement as you requested in our telephone conversation earlier this week, as well as copies for each Senator on the subcommittee.
The statement was prepared for us by Stephen Ronfeldt and Richard LeGates. Staff Attorneys, National Housing Law Project, Berkeley, California. It also embodies the views of our program and the attorneys representing twelve projects we have funded throughout the country.
We consider the Workable Program an essential tool. It is the only effective method for Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that appropriated funds for housing, renewal and urban development purposes are being spent in accordance with the high goals of national housing legislation. It provides the necessary planning whereby urban blight and the scarcity of low and moderate income housing can be systematically remedied It provides protection for all residents of a community by requiring that community to assess its housing needs and commit itself to short and long range programs that will satisfy those needs. It permits HUD to introduce modern methods of construction, safety codes and relocation assistance to all communi. ties—and to permit citizen involvement in the planning of their city's future.
There is opposition to the Workable Program and much of it is justified-not because the concept is not essential—but due to present inadequacies and gaps in the Workable Program itself. We believe that, when these defects are remedied by statutory amendment and followed by more effective administrative regulations, the opposition will disappear. City officials and executives who have the responsibility of providing for the health, safety and welfare of their residents will find a modified Workable Program the right approach to meet their obligations. We are, therefore, in the process of formulating legislative changes to improve the operation of the Workable Program.
We would appreciate your distribution of the attached statement. We stand ready to provide any device and assistance to the committee as desired. Sincerely,
DAVID H. MARLIN,
STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT LAW PROJECT, AND
LEGAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES FOR THE ELDERLY, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SENIOR CITIZENS, INC.
The Workable Program for Community Improvement (42 USC $ 1451 (a)) is presently the center of a controversy with far-reaching implications. Total repeal of the Workable Program was recently called for by the National Association of Housing and Renewal Officials (NAHRO)' and by the Conference of Mayors (over the strong objection of a minority caucus of mayors)' In response, HUD assistant Secretary Samuel Jackson, the federal official responsible for the Workable Program, has stated :
1 Statement of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials on Housing and Urban Development Legislation of 1970 before the Subcommittee on Housing. Committee on Banking and Currency. U.S. House of Representatives, June 11. 1970 "Priority Amendment #7". Resolution #8 of resolutions adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Denver, June 17. 1970.
a substitute Resolution #8 introduced by caucus of minority mayors, Denver, June 17, The resolution of the Conference of Mayors criticizes the Workable Program as:
"Currently, some national organizations are commited to eliminating the Workable Program from the Department's legislative arsenal. I deplore these efforts. They constitute an entirely regressive posture. So long as the forces making for urban decay, disorganization, and unrest persist, the underlying philosophy of the Workable Program as an approach to the
solution of urban problems is as valid today as it was 15 years ago." 4 For reasons detaled below, it is clear that the Workable Program requirements must be strengthened, not eliminated. If our cities are to deal effectively with problems of housing and urban decay.
The basic objective of the Workable Program is to encourage localities receiving HUD monies to develop comprehensive plans for action to meet their local problems of urban slums and decay. As stated in the Presidential Task Force Report recommending it, the Workable Program is intended to:
“Encourage the widest possible ingenuity, initiative and discretion at the local level, but ... require clear and certain evidence that the city is realistically addressing itself to the processes by which slums are formed, and is not simply engaging in superficial, piece-meal approaches which will waste both Federal and local funds and fail to accomplish the objectives."
To assure that localities have comprehensively thought through their housing problems and have locally developed and implemented programs consistent with the Housing and Urban Development Act, HUD has established broad, flexible performance standards. Every two years, localities with HUD assistance for many projects must demonstrate their compliance with these standards by showing that they have:
(a) Codes and code Enforcement. Adopted modern building, plumbing, electrical, housing and fire prevention codes and maintained an effective program of code enforcement.
The Housing Act of 1949 was amended in 1969 to eliminate the Workable Program requirement with respect to Public Housing and 8 221 (d) (3) housing. The requirement was never applied to 8 236 housing.
(b) Programming and Planning. Developed effective and continuing planning and programming including comprehensive plans to overcome physical, social, racial and economic problems of slums and blighted areas and implemented programs to translate these plans into action.
(c) Housing and Relocation. Analysed low- and moderate-income housing needs and formulated action programs to meet them by expanding the supply of lowand moderate-income housing units demolished by HUD-assisted programs on a one-to-one basis where necessary and adequately relocated all persons displaced by governmental action.
(d) Citizen Involvement. Provided opportunities for citizens, especially poor and minority citizens, to participate in the planning and execution of HUDassisted programs which vitally affect them and their neighborhoods."
really 'unworkable in that it fails to provide the flexibility needed to deal with individual local situations ... (it) sets up standards that become arbitrary and cannot be directly related to locally established objectives .. this comprehensive planning must be done on an individual basis and not
prescribed by a rigid set of statutory rules.8 The majority resolution misrepresents both the original intent and current effects of the Workable Program requirement. From its inception, the Workable Program was intended to "encourage the widest possible ingenuity initiative and discretion at the local level.” The Workable Program Handbook, adopted in April, 1969, prescribes only broad performance standards placing responsibility
* From address to the Metropolitan Regional Council, New York, June 30, 1970. • Report to the President, December, 1953, p. 113.
* Urban Renewal Program; Neighborhood Development Program ; Concentrated Code Enforcement Program ; Interim Assistance for Blighted Areas ; Demolition Grant Program : Community Renewal Program ; General Neighborhood Renewal Plan ; Rehabilitation loans and grants in urban renewal and concentrated code enforcement areas and in other than urban renewal or concentrated code enforcement areas assisted under the provision of Sec. 115(a) (2) and Sec. 312(a) (1). Workable Program Handbook (RHA 7100.1, Chapter 1. page 3).
* Workable Program Handbook (RHA 7100.1) October, 1968. & Op. Cit. Mayors' Resolution.