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Amanda Matthew's, standing in doorway, tells James Chamberlain, Frank Kollmansperger and Selmon T. Franklin how water runs into her unit,


Selmon Franklin and marshal Mike Quinn inspect shack at 519 rear East Ninth St.

- Times Staff Photos by George Baker.


Submitted by Theodore Robinson, Member of Board of Directors of Citizens'

Committee to Fight Slums and Housing, Chairman, Chicago Industrial Union Council

Chicago's terrific slum problem has received unprecedented publicity during the past year and a half. Yet, the still larger problem of the overall housing needs of Chicago have received comparatively little attention. The dimensions of the actual need for new housing of all types are so great as to constitute a problem which by itself could well engage the attention of even so august a body as the United States Congress.

The Chicago Industrial Union Council, after close study over a period of years and after consultation with every agency or individual in our city who has some expert knowledge of the housing requirements of this community, believes that we need at least 200,000 units of new housing at once.

There are at least 50,000 families now needing and eligible for low-rent public housing units.

In addition, there are probably 50,000 families in Chicago, living doubled up and wanting separate quarters.

Chicago has a larger percentage of renters in its population than most big American cities. In spite of this, construction for rental is dropping rapidly year after year. The biggest lack and the largest headache in the Chicago picture is the great unfilled need of the great bulk of th middle-income section of the population. By middle income we mean the family whose breadwinner makes roughly $70 a week. This is the typical wage of the great mass of factory workers. We need at least 150,000 units to fill the pent-up demands of this great body of our population,

The median sales price per unit of new housing in Chicago in 1953 is estimated at $16,760.

Less than 2 percent of new housing units sold for prices ranging between $8,000 and $8,999.

Under 10 percent of all housing built in Chicago in 1953 sold at prices below $11,999.

Three out of four units of new housing built in the Chicago area in the past few years were erected outside the city limits, thereby forcing the people to travel considerable distances to their places of work and at a cost which becomes a serious item in the family budget.

Median downpayments on new housing built in the city were from 20 to 30 percent of sales cost.

The above figures on new housing prices indicate that few, indeed, of the houses now being constructed by private industry can be bought by the average industrial worker and even fewer by the worker in the service trades whose wages tend to be even a bit lower than those who work in factories.

Of the comparatively few apartments built by private industry for rent in Chicago in 1952 and 1953, it is estimated that the median rental is between $123 and 124 a month. Less than 200 units were built in this period renting for under $100 a month. No new rental quarters were built in this 2-year period for less than $80 a month by private industry.

It is the observation of those of us who have studied the housing situation in Chicago at close range that the most unfortunate individual in this community is the man who has 3 or more children and an income of less than $80 a week. This person is not eligible for public housing and no private landlord will let him near an existing dwelling, unless it be a noxious and miserable slum.

It should be noted that a public body, the Chicago Dwelling Association, built one rental project with considerable indirect public aid. Despite that fact, the rentals charged range from $91 to $118 per month.


We present for the Committee's consideration in studying the slum housing situation in Chicago two printed volumes. The first one is entitled “The Road Back” which is a reprint of articles and photographs of the most recent housing expose by the Chicago Daily News.

A team of 8 reporters and 3 photographers worked for several months to get the facts which are included in this dramatic but certainly not exaggerated series of articles. The Metropolitan Housing and Planning Association of Chicago which is responsible for reprinting the Daily News series is a responsible, middle of-the-road civic body, whose membership includes some of the best citizens in the city and whose record of careful and unsensational study of the housing problem in Chicago goes back at least a full decade.

The second volume we offer for your consideration is entitled "The Housing Action Report of 1954.” This report is addressed to Mayor Martin H. Kennelly and is prepared by the Citizens' Committee To Fight Slums, another cross-section committee including many of the most respected and outstanding individuals in the city.

The Chicago housing action report was issued after the report of President Eisenhower's Advisory Committee on Housing brought out its report. The Chicago group agree that if the essential recommendations of the President's Advisory Committee would be actually written into law the possible impact of such legislation would be of the very greatest advantage in attempting to solve the terrific housing problems confronting a city like Chicago.

In conclusion on behalf of the Chicago Industrial Union Council let me set forth the horrid but irrefutable statistics on substandard dwelling units in Chicago :

There are about 757,000 tenant-occupied units in the city.

There are a total of 240,000 substandard dwelling units in the city ; 214,000 are tenant occupied and 25,000 owner occupied.

Therefore, about one-third of the rental units in the city are substandard.

In 1953, the Chicago Housing Authority completed 930 units of public housing. In addition, 1,243 units of new public housing have been authorized and work is about to begin.

The Chicago Housing Authority estimates that about 17,000 families live in areas already authorized for demolition. Half of these families are probably eligible for public housing, the other half would have to hunt for some alternative shelter. If no public housing is available for the over 8,000 families who cannot afford private housing, what is to become of this army of human beings?

The Chicago Housing Authority has been receiving about 1,000 applications per month since 1949 for low-rent public housing units. The authority estimates that at least 50,000 Chicago families qualify for public housing under present income limitations.


Submitted by Steve Chevalier, executive secretary, the Greater Cincinnati

Industrial Union Council, CIO The Greater Cincinnati Industrial Union Council CIO comprised of 35,000 members wishes to be recorded in positive condemnation of the deplorable slum conditions prevalent in Cincinnati. There is no comment that we might make which would adequately describe the deplorable conditions existing in the blighted areas of this city.

We strongly recommend and urgently appeal to the Federal Government not only to take the necessary and immediate action to obliterate the slum areas and replace same with low-cost housing; but to also recognize the great and crying need for decent housing for middle-income people.


1. There are 50,000 dwelling units in Cincinnati which are substandard. Approximately 20,000 of these are completely beyond all rehabilitation,

2. Demolitions of dwelling units, for all causes, average about 1,000 units per year in Cincinnati. No new low-rent public-housing units have been completed in Cincinnati since 1941.

3. At the present there are 3,700 approved applications on file. These are families whose current occupancy is secure. There are 3,000 more applications on file by families who face displacement in the very near future. There are 20,000 badily deteriorated dwelling units in the city-about 25 percent of the occupants are eligible for public housing. It will be most difficult to rehouse these extremely low-income families in private-enterprise housing. This would indicate a maximum need of 5,000 more public-housing units in Cincinnati. However, counting on a substantial turnover, we could cut this to 3,000.


4. Workers who are transferred to Cincinnati from the East complain that when they sold their homes in the East, they had to pay $2,000 to $3,000 more in Cincinnati for the equivalent amount of housing. Most of the housing built in Cincinnati is single-family units (85 percent of total) selling for an average of $12,500. Public works

The Millcreek Expressway will displace 4,000 families during the next few years. Almost all of these families are in the lowest income group who will need public housing.

5. There are now 12,448 Cincinnati families so overcrowded that there is more than 1 person to a room. All indications point to the situation getting worse.

We quote a brief newspaper article from the March 4, 1954, edition of the Cincinnati Post:

"HOUSING NEEDS PUT AT $10 MILLION "It would cost $1 million a year for 10 years to bring Cincinnati's housing up to the proper standard, Charles H. Stamm, urban redevelopment director, told council's special housing committee late Thursday.

“The committee met in special session to draw up a policy to coordinate housing in the city. After this statement of policy has been completed it will be submitted to various groups for suggestions. The revised policy then would be recommended to council to adoption.

“Ramsey Findlater, metropolitan housing director, said: **We don't need any more surveys.

We know what our needs are. What we need now is a policy and enforcement of standards.'

"Donald Hunter, chief housing inspector, said 3112 percent of the housing units in Cincinnati are substandard. He suggested a review or 'overhauling' of the building code, particularly those sections dealing with condemnation and overcrowding.”

The comment by the Cincinnati CIO is that even if this program should be realized, less than 30 percent of the new housing built would be for low-income rental housing.

COLUMBUS, OHIO Submitted by Harry E. Mayfield, President, Columbus Industrial Union Council

Essentially there have beeen no changes in the basic statistics on substandard housing in Columbus and vicinity over the past 15 to 16 years, since we have had our CIO organization in this city. Such changes as have occurred have been for the worse.

We out here in Columbus have so often collected figures and facts on slum conditions and the need for housing, all to no avail, that we have come to believe that very few Members of Congress are concerned with these statistics. Nevertheless, we will try once more. The underlying facts are as follows: 1. Number of substandard dwelling units in the city

(1) 1950 census-19,458 units listed as dilapidated or no prviate bath; this is 18 percent of total.

(2) This represents an increase of 107.5 percent over the 1940 census.

(3) By comparing building permits issued in the decade 1940–50, and checking census figures, we find over 9,500 illegal conversions; that is, conversions not properly listed as such.

(4) The number of overcrowded units increased 29.5 percent from 1940 to 1950.

(5) Thirty-eight percent lack central heating.

(6) Approximately 40 units in metropolitan Columbus were destroyed by fire in the past year.

(7) Safety director's activities report 634 condemnation orders in 1953; this was the number of dwellings torn down to make way for new highways.

(8) Construction of new Mohawk School cleared whole block-maybe 60 units. Other public construction eliminated about 100 units.

(9) Proposed new freeway will eliminate about 500 units in 2 slum-study areas. Will probably eliminate at least three times as many in other areas.

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