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Thus the housing agencies, while publicly stating that they will not insure mortgages or otherwise aid housing where there is imposed a restrictive covenant, actually use the vast sums of money, powers, and knowledge at their disposal to aid and support segregation in all phases of housing.
This is the exact opposite of the following position taken by the Department of Justice in its amicus curiae brief in the case of Shelley v. Kraemer, No. 72, Supreme Court of the United States, October 1947:
“The Government is of the view that judicial enforcement of racial restrictive covenants on real property is incompatible with the spirit and letter of the Constitution and laws of the United States. It is fundamental that no agency of Government should participate in any action which will result in depriving any person of essential rights because of race or color or creed.”
The time has come for the housing agencies to cease the hypocritical practice of refusing to approve written restrictive covenants while closing their eyes and ears to the actions and verbal statements of builders, lenders, local housing authorities, and others who make plain and publicly say that housing constructed with Federal assistance will be exclusively for members of a specific racial group. In essence, the Federal housing agencies are operating on a "separate but equal policy" in direct contradiction of the United States Supreme Court and national policy as stated in briefs filed by the United States Department of Justice.
This is the time for the housing agencies to deny any assistance or finances unless there is a guaranty that the housing made available will be open to all qualified applicants without regard to race.
Because the present course of the housing agencies is a serious threat to the gains made by the NAACP and other organizations through court action against restrictive covenants, we are confronted with this question: "Is it better to oppose the housing program, as such, and, thereby, halt Federal action in this field than to let the present program continue and within the next 5 years face a new and more terrible kind of restriction on the use and occupancy of housing imposed with the help of the United States Government itself?”
Mr. MITCHELL. This exhibit shows an incredible arrangement. It is from the city of Baltimore. I hope some of you members, Mr. Chairman, will go over this and take a look at the monstrosity. Here
a is an area of the city which at present is occupied by about a thousand colored families. The city has embarked upon a program of clearing out that slum area, but it is also going to clear out some of the good housing in there.
Here is the way they are going to do it: In this section there is substantial housing that is being occupied by colored people. That will be torn down. Here there is a white church which has great historic significance, and it will be left. Here is a white dairy which will be left, and it is going to make an unsightly appearance there, because there will be milk cans, trucks, and all that sort of thing right in that area that is to be redeveloped.
Then there is a great big warehouse, also, owned by white people. That will also be left in the area.
But, down here is a historic colored Methodist church, which must be over 100 years old, which will be demolished.
How is another church; a colored Baptist church, which will be deinched.
And why is Baltimore doing it? The city officials are doing it because the people in charge of that plan say they want to make that area like a Beacon Hill, like the Boston Beacon Hill area. It will be one where the Negroes will be sharply limited as far as occupancy is concerned. We say that if the State of Maryland, and the city of Baltimore want to do that, it is a form of immoral conduct, but it is even more awful if the Federal Government gives the city the tax money that is collected from all of the people of the United States to carry on that kind of discrimination. We think that our amendment, if adopted, would prevent such discriminatory practices.
We also would like to call to the committee's attention the fact that the same city officials cleared out a colored and white neighborhood, which was about 50 percent colored and 50 percent white. It was known as the Waverly development project. That area today is occupied exclusively by white people, and there is a letter which I got from the Baltimore Urban League, a social work agency, that I would like to submit for the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it will be made a part of the record. (The letter referred to follows:)
MORTGAGE SERVICES, INC.,
Norfolk 10, Va., July 15, 1953. Norfolk, Va. GENTLEMEN : Attached please find plans and specifications with certain pertinent exhibits along with our check for $45. We regret to have to return this folder, but our New York outlet has cut us off from FHA presentations.
We know you are aware of the passage of a new bill, June 30, and no one is able to entertain any loans on a discounted basis until the new regulations are issued by FHA and VA.
This particular loan is further complicated in the fact that it is a Negro loan, and the tightness of today's market makes it impossible for this company to place it regardless of what discount is available until we can get a go-ahead sign from our New York outlets. Sincerely yours,
MORTGAGE SERVICES, INC.,
WARREN A. OTT, President. Mr. MITCHELL. It has been said by some Baltimore officials that colored people are living in that area now, and the letter will show clearly it is occupied entirely by white people.
In conclusion, I would like to call your attention to the activities of the FHA. Perhaps the most colossal illustration of FHA's sins is
ир in Bucks County, Pa., where an enormous new city, known as Levittown, which will have thousands of homes, is being built solely because it is getting FHA financing. The owner of that development says that it is going to be exclusively for white people. He is willing to let dogs in, but no Negroes.
Not only do we suffer from this type of cruelty in the housing program, but in addition to that, often when these devolpments take place colored people are cheated out of their just returns, when they sell their property. For example, I would like to call the committee's attention to a quote which we have in our testimony, concerning a hearing which was held out in the State of Oklahoma. In that hearing one of the real-estate men came before the committee and testified that he was offered $4,000 for some land, which was to be bought. He went into court and ultimately got $12,000. He asked the housing appraisers why was it they only offered $4,000 for the land that was worth $12,000. There, in the Congressional Record, is a statement that “There was just a bunch of coons living out there and we, therefore, thought the land was not of much value."
In Savannah, a classmate of mine has a Presbyterian Church. That church was forced out of the area that I mentioned awhile ago. His congregation was first offered $8.000 for the church property. Later they were offered $13,000; finally they went into court and got $40.000 for it.
So, it is a very horrible thing, gentlemen of the committee, that not only do we get excluded from these areas, but then when they start clearing the land they cheat us out of our property values.
The final thing that to me is of great significance because it is the first time I have seen in writing what we know happens all along, was this letter which was sent by a mortgage company, concerning its policies on colored loans under FHA. I would like to read this paragraph:
This particular loan is further complicated in the fact that it is a Negro loan, and the tightness of today's market makes it impossible for this company to place it regardless of what discount is available until we can get a go-ahead sign from our New York outlets.
If I may, Mr. Chairman, I would like to insert that.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it will be made a part of the record. (The letter referred to follows:)
BALTIMORE URBAN LEAGUE,
Baltimore, Md., March 22, 1954. Mr. CLARENCE MITCHELL, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,
Washington, D. C. DEAR CLARENCE: I checked today directly with the Harry Bart office, the dereloper of the Waverly project.
With the exception of four vacancies, the project is completely tenanted by white families. This lays to rest the rumor that a couple of Negro families have been arcepted. Always cordially yours,
FURMAN L. TEMPLETON, E.cecutive Director. Mr. MITCHELL. These things will not happen if our amendment is adopted, and it seems to me the Congress of the United States has a duty to halt this kind of abuse of public funds.
That is the conclusion of my statement.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much. You made a fine state. ment. What you said is very impressive.
(Mr. Mitchell's prepared statement follows:)
STATEMENT OF CLARENCE MITCHELL, DIRECTOR OF THE WASHINGTON BUREAU,
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am Clarence Mitchell, director of the Washington Bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Our organization requests that the Housing Act be amended to provide for protection against the growing pattern of segregation which is promoted by housing officials of the Federal Government.
Our proposed amendment reads: "The aids and powers made available under the several titles of this act are not to be conditioned or limited in any way on account of race, religion, or national origin of builders, lenders, renters, buyers, or families to be benefited.”
We are firmly convinced that the housing agencies now have full authority to issue regulations which will prevent segregation in housing that is financed on a whole or part by Federal funds.
The Federal Government has clear authority to require that public housing and facilities or housing in redeveloped areas must be available to all qualified renters, buyers, or users without regard to race.
The Federal Government has clear authority under present law to require that FHA insured property must be available to all qualified persons without regard to race as a condition of obtaining Federal insurance.
Unfortunately, the Federal agencies have never had the courage to exercise this authority, and, for that reason, we are asking that your committee amend the Housing Act to provide that as a condition of receiving Federal assistance in the form of loans, grants, or insurance, Government agencies and others must agree that housing and other facilities made possible by such grants, loans, or insurance must be available to all qualified persons without regard to race.
The present housing policies are a somewhat wordy echo of previous discriminatory practices which have been in effect ever since the Federal Government entered the housing field.
As evidence of our effort to correct this problem, I would like to submit for the records, a memorandum sent by our organization to Mr. Raymond Foley, Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, on January 11, 1952.
The Congressional Records of August 15, 1951 (pp. 10293 and 10297) and June 27, 1953 (pp. 7752–7753) show that the housing agencies have consistently tried to make the Congress believe that existing regulations prevented the kind of abuse that we have set forth in our memorandum.
Under the new housing Administrator, Mr. Albert Cole, the situation has not improved, although a great many words have been spoken and written by Mr. Cole and his subordinates on this subject.
We are convinced that when the President mentioned minority-group problems in his housing message of January 25, he intended to reaffirm his important principle that Federal funds should not be used to promote and expand racial segregation and discrimination.
Despite the President's fine intentions, Mr. Cole and his subordinates continue to approre housing policies which permit housing patterns that would not in any sense embarrass the Malan government of South Africa which is openly dedicated to a program of complete racial segregation.
The same memorandum that we submitted to Mr. Foley was submitted to Mr. Cole for consideration. As yet, we have not had any promise that the housing agency will change these practices that we have complained about.
If the committee wishes to get a firsthand picture of how the Government is being used to promate racial segregation, I recommend that a trip be made to Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore, Md.
The Savannah trip will reveal that land in the middle of a slum area populated by colored people has been cleared and a low-rent project has been built there. This project sharply contrasts with the surrounding area in that there are grass plots, trees, play areas, paved streets, and a general atmosphere of cleanliness. It is occupied exclusively by white people. All around it are the shacks and unpaved streets where the colored people must liru.
A trip to Baltimore would reveal the workings of a slum clearance and urban redevelopment program under the present policies. In that city, a plan is afoot to redevelop an area adjacent to a State-owned armory. For years, white resi. dents in the area have vigorously fought to keep colored people from owning homes in the neighborhood.
Now these forces which express themselves through an organization known as the Mount Royal Association are seeking to extend policies of enforced racial segregation to the armory site. The boundary lines of the proposed project have been so drawn that the Western Maryland Dairy, which is owned by white people, certain warehouses, also owned by whites, a white church, and a considerable parcel of white occupied residential property will be allowed to remain in the area which is to be cleared. Those in charge of the program say they are trying to create a Beacon Hill in Baltimore.
On the other hand, the redeveloped portion is expected to restrict colored occupancy to a walkup type of apartment building, immediately adjacent to an area already occupied by colored people. An elevator type of apartment building for white people will be built which is immediately adjacent to the white section.
Although there are a number of substantial properties such as churches and homes now occupied or used by colored people, these will be demolished along with slum-type dwellings. The residents and users will be forced to find accommodations outside the area.
There is little hope that the national housing officials will remedy this condition because the father of the Baltimore idea, a Mr. Richard Steiner, has been made the Deputy Director of the Division of Slum Clearance and Urban Redevelopment of HHFA.
In such developments, the colored families are not only ousted from their land areas, but they are frequently cheated out of a fair price for their property.
An example of this was given by Mr. Buren B. Day, an Oklahoma City, Okla., real-estate man who appeared before the Housing Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs on December 6, 1953. Mr. Day pointed out that local appraisers had