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It is sinful for the Administration to again make promises to the

people that will not be kept,

While the Administration argues that is supports a little housing for

everyone rather than the present system of good housing for a few, the

fact is that this administration is unlikely to offer or get a universal

housing program for all the poor people in this country, or even for the

elderly, given the high cost of such a program,

While improving what we have even by using the existing 6 million

housing units "to the fullest extent feasible" (and I do not fully

understand the intent of "feasible") that is not to say this existing

stock is not in dire need of rehabilation and/or reconstruction.

The Administration proposes to repeal the heart of the Brooke Amendment

of the Housing Act by establishing minimum rents to the 40% of the

operating costs of public housing units.

Such minimum rents would be devasting to the poorest families in

public housing as well as those people who have relied upon the Brooke

Amendment for survival. If Congress merely wishes to eliminate zero rents

in public housing, the best way would be to increase the incomes of public

housing tenants, not to increase rents, e.g., there are no cases of zero rent

tenants in Boston public housing because welfare payments are adequate.

This is the correct approach. There are many cases of zero rent tenants

in New Orleans because welfare payments are so inadequate families rarely

meet daily minimum standards of living.

It would be criminal to now require families of four receiving $1,000 per year who eat infrequently to suddenly pay $20 per month for rent,

Although many local public housing officials would have at one time

believed that there is much tenant discontent with zero rents, there is

sufficient evidence to bear out the point that this is not the case,

Our

member tenant organizations have epeatedly defended the Brooke Amendment, and we have even gone further as to ascertain tenant attitudes, Surveys

we have conducted and are conducting of the attitudes of rural tenants in

Monroe, Georgia; Anna, Illinois; Graceville, Florida; Goldsboro, North

Carolina, and Punxatawney, Pennsylvania have shown no one opposed to

free rents for persons with sub-standard Incomes,

Even where tenants

on free rent have desired to make voluntary contributions to their rent

accounts, they have only paid $5 per month, far less than the $20 to $60

per month being proposed by the Admiäistration. It is unfair to make

those least able to pay, responsible for paying a higher proportion of

their income for rent than those who are able to pay.

This bias against

the poor is typical of a problem which has plagued America for years, 1.e.,

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"The poorer the tenant, the greater is his or her housing expense as a

proportion of income,

In 1970 more than 90% of tenant families with ..

incomes below $2,000 paid 35% of their income for rent, but 93% of

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those families with incomes over $25,000 paid less than 15% of their income

for rent. The median rent paid by households with incomes below $2,000 was $79 monthly or 47% of their income, The median rent paid by people with incomes above $25,000 was $202, less than 10% of their income.

Let us preserve the rent ceilings for welfare recipients as in the

Brooke Amendment, and present the frequent discrimination against families

receiving public aid, Recipients should not be discriminated against

because of their source of income.

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Any family regardless of their source of income, with an adjusted income of $2,000 per year should be responsible for no more than $500 per year

rent.

The fact that the mony comes from ADC instead of employment or

social security or gambling should make no difference,

The fact that the

welfare department calls a certain portion of that check the family receives

rent should make no difference, the overall effect is the same.

Brooke III

has meant that families receiving welfare checks can now apply a greater

portion of that check to other necessities, such as food. With many

welfare families already suffering from malnutrition because of inadequate

incomes and escalating food prices, they are even more unable to take this

larger portion of their welfare check and use it for rent,

Repeal of Brooke III would be a clear case of the government giving with one hand (through HEW) and taking away with the other (through HUD).

The public housing definition of income should not be revised as a

means of increasing income,

The present definition was well thought out and

represents considerable work,

The definitions proposed by the Administration

are irrational, full of contradictions, and full of cultural biases which

are meaningless and useless,

It gives a $300 deduction to a spouse ., who is

head of the household if she or he is a wage earner, why not to another working

adult in the household?

A spouse who is not working who is an even greater

burden on the income of the head of the household.

It gives a $300 deduction

to each minor, each full time student, and each disabled or handicapped

person (other than the spouse), but not to dependents who are over eighteen

and may also be a burden on the family, nor to a spouse who has no income but

is a full time student or is disabled or handicapped. Perhaps the administration

wishes to discourage marriage among people in that category.

Further, it deducts from income extraordinary medical expenses, but

not unusual occupational expenses, nor child care expenses,

These items

were included in the Brooke Amendment as incentives to work,

The

Administration apparently opposes such incentives,

NTO opposes the concept of "income mix" in public housing as now being pursued by the Administration. Needy families are now being denied admission

to public housing because they cannot afford to pay enough rent to reduce

the demand on federal subsidies,

Local housing authorities are being denied

the right to produce housing unless they are assured of high enough rents

from the future tenants. There is a desire to make "model communities" of

public housing enclaves at the expense of the outside of the community by

keeping down the number of very poor residents,

While this may perhaps

aid the public housing project, it works severe hardships on the very poorest

families who cannot afford housing in the private market and are condemned

to cold, overcrowded, vermin infested, slums that shorten their lives and

kill their morale and initiative.

It also does a disservice to the locality

as a whole which must allow concentrations of such families in privately

owned deteriorated rat traps to continue, with all the attendent problems

of crime, disease, drugs, etc.

It would be better for the community as a whole

to have at least housed such families in comparatively superior public housing,

giving them adequate room, heat, social services, etc,. The poor who have

more money available can rent housing on the open market more so than the

very poor, and thus not aggravate the desperate problems of th

community

as a whole,

A local housing authority has an obligation to serve the interest of the

broader community, not just its own enclave,

It cannot serve that broader

interest following HUD's policy of "income mix". Legislation should ensure that no one be denied admission to public housing or access to low-income

federal housing programs because they are too poor

even an unknown,

forgotten wanderer is buried.

The "sense of Congress" portion of the Housing Act which provides that

no tenant "should be barred from serving on the board of a public housing

agency because of his tenancy", should be strengthened, In New Haven,,

Connecticut, and in East St. Louis, Illinois, tenants of public housing

who were selected by their respective mayors, with resident and community

support, to sit on the Board of Commissioners of their local housing

authority, have been denied their seats because their state charges that it

would be a conflict of interest.

This has created unnecessary conflict

and denied their Boards the advantage of the representation of tenant interests

in their deliberations and decisions,

The "sense of Congress" statement

should be converted into a simple law stating that "No tenant shall be

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Mr. Chairman, our approach to this testimony has been primarily as victims

of the housing crisis, not as those who stand to profit, as do builders,

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bankers, real estate brokers, social workers, and others, from one or another

particular solution to that crisis.

Our needs are real and they are simple,

In the words of the Housing Act of 1949, they are "a decent home and a

suitable living environment."

We call upon this Committee to approach potential legislation from the

perspective of the housing consumer and take these housing goals :

seriously.

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