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minimum required stockholdings of members associations in Federal home loan banks.
The second amendment we are offering is one which would permit Federal associations with reserves, surplus, and undivided profits equal to at least 5 percent of withdrawable accounts to invest up to 5 percent of their withdrawable accounts in the development of homesites and in the assistance of urban renewal projects.
The amendment would assist the national-housing program in two vitally important ways. First, by assisting small home builders to overcome the serious problem of land acquisition and secondly by providing urgently needed funds for housing in urban renewal areas.
The cost of raw land and site development has climbed steadily to the point where small home builders are unable to finance further operations. Unless small home builders are assisted in acquiring suitable land there will either be a growing concentration of home building among a few very large builders, of the small home builder will go far out into the country to build in areas where sewerage, streets, and water are not required—and this would be a step backward. If Federal associations can acquire the land, develop it and install the necessary facilities for the small builder, the project will be well planned, adequately developed and the economies of large operation will be passed on to the purchaser. FHA Commissioner Mason, in recent speeches, has referred to land as a “No. 1 housing problem.” We believe this amendment is one effective answer to the problem. It has the enthusiastic support of many small home builders.
And I might say, Mr. Chairman, I have many telegrams here from small home builders, but I know you are rushed for time, and that being the case, if I may, I would like to introduce them in the record.
Senator SPARKMAN. We would be very glad to include them in the record at this point.
Mr. BUBB. Thank you very much, sir. (The telegrams referred to follow :)
WOONSOCKET, R. I., May 15, 1955. HENRY BUBB, Chairman, United States Savings and Loan League,
Washington, D. C.: We favor bill permitting savings and loan associations to acquire and develop land for small builders. Small builders' cost of acquiring, improving, and developing of utilities make it practically impossible to stay in business. Passage of this bill with aid from United States Savings and Loan League will help to keep the small builders in business.
CONTEMPORARY HOMES, INC.,
WORCESTER, MASS., May 16, 1955. HENRY A. BUBB, United States Savings and Loan League,
Washington, D. C.: In favor of amendment to administration housing bill permitting savings and loans to make loans to small builders and acquire land in connection with urban renewal projects. This will be of great assistance to our New England cities.
JOSEPH T. BENEDIT, President, New England Regional Council, National Association
of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
Mr. Weitzer, would you come around. You are national legislative director of the Jewish War Veterans.
We are glad to have you make your presentation.
STATEMENT OF BERNARD WEITZER, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE
DIRECTOR, JEWISH WAR VETERANS
Mr. WEITZER. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry I don't have a prepared statement. I would like to submit one for the record.
Senator SPARKMAN. We would be very glad to have it. I was just going to suggest that since time was so short perhaps it is well you don't have it. Public housing
Mr. WEITZER. Well, I just have a few convictions about this situation that I would like to voice to you.
I think there is no question about the fact that everybody is agreed that what might be termed the grandiloquent bill that was put before this committee something over a year ago or about a year ago and was passed after having been pretty sadly mutilated has proved a complete failure insofar as its objective was concerned.
Senator CAPEHART. Which bill was that, do you say?
Senator SPARKMAN. You are speaking about the public-housing part of that bill?
Mr. WEITZER. Well, I will deal with a few of the others of it, too.
Senator CAPEHART. You are not condemning the bill as a whole; you are just going to pick out some parts of it?
Mr. WEITZER. Well, the bill as it came in here was one of those creations that sort of promised everything. We were going to stop blight. We were going to get rid of slums. We were going to rebuild the areas, touch them up, glamorize the areas that had been blighted, and, well, everything was going to happen, and they even got to granting the President's request for 35,000 housing units.
Senator CAPEHART. Public-housing units ?
Mr. WEITZER. Yes. Somehow before the bill got all through and before the appropriations got through, there had been so many fishhooks put into this thing that I think all of us must agree that those objectives have not been reached.
Senator CAPEHART. You are talking about the objectives of public housing and blighted areas, slum areas? That is what you are talking about?
Mr. WEITZER. Yes. Those are the principal things, sure. The FHA got cleaned up after your investigation, Senator, and, of course,
, it is always pretty easy to lend money to people that want it or could guarantee the loans which the FHA does, and so far as I know they haven't gotten into any messes during the past year. Military housing
The thing that I would like to see doneI tried to read through all these bills, and one of the bills in which I am particularly inter
ested is one that you have before this committee, Senator, and that is for military housing, which as a representative of the veterans organization I am seriously interested in because the cost of the armed services budget, as you know, runs into tens of billions of dollars, and one of the things that runs that cost up is the cost of recruiting new men all the time.
Senator CAPEHART. Mr. Chairman—would you yield?
Senator CAPEHART. Would you agree with me that at the end of World War II there was a great need for housing for soldiers returning, being discharged, and that the Congress has done a pretty good job in that respect ?
I mean we have supplied several million houses. Isn't there a great need ac the moment for housing of the boys that are still in the service and those that are being called back into the service at the moment? Mr. WEITZER. Well, that is exactly why I say
I Senator CAPEHART. Isn't the need as great today for that as it was in 1945 or 1946 for housing for the boys that were getting out?
Mr. WEITZER. Well, nobody ever contemplated at that time, of course, that we would have to go back to Armed Forces of around 3 million men. When the Wherry bill was passed, frankly, I wasn't too enthusiastic about it. Maybe the time hasn't come to uncover what has gone on under that bill, but there may be some windfalls lurking in the corners on that one; and I haven't read your bill too carefully, but I hope that you provided for the kind of protection on that score that is sadly needed.
Senator CAPEHART. There can't be any wind falls under S. 1501 for the simple reason that the housing is to be built by the lowest bidder and the tenants established at that point will at that point take over control and own it. Mr. WEITZER. As I say, I don't want to pass
I don't want to confine myself entirely to a harangue about the evils and the shortcomings of the legislation that went through the Congress this year, , but I think it points to the fact that in my opinion you need to go back to the Housing Act of 1949, taking into consideration some of the things that have been learned since that time. But that Housing Act within the limits that were imposed upon it by the Appropriations Committee tackled the basic problem. If you are going to get rid of slums, if you are going to cure blight, you can raze the slums, but you can't raze the people that are living in them.
Senator CAPEHART. You are talking about the 500,000 units that will be built at the rate of 135,000 a year?
Mr. WEITZER. That is right, up or down, according to the economic situation.
Senator CAPEHART. Called the Wagner-Taft-Ellender Act?
Mr. WEITZER. Taft-Ellender-Wagner Act originally, and nowadays it seems to me that some people are inclined to forget one of the most constructive things that Senator Taft ever did during his career in the Senate, I think, which was his study, very arduous, serious, complete, and thorough study of the housing problem.
Senator SPARKMAN. Let me see now if I can summarize your views from what you have said, and as I understand it you want to present a prepared statement for inclusion.
Mr. WEITZER. That is right.
Senator SPARKMAN. You believe that we ought to get back to a workable and a more practical public housing program? You believe that we ought to have, shall I say, a vigorous slum clearance program.
Mr. WEITZER. Yes.
Senator SPARKMAN. And you believe we ought to give careful consideration to the provision for adequate housing for military personnel ? You mentioned specially those three things.
Mr. WEITZER. That is right. I want to touch on one other thing. Slum clearance and urban renewal
Senator SPARKMAN. Of course, may I say in connection with slum clearance, I suppose you also would go along with the urban-renewal program.
Mr. WEITZER. Yes. I have no quarrel with the stated objectives of the legislation that was recommended by this committee and put through the Congress last year. What I am thinking about is the fact that in this process of passing through
Senator SPARKMAN. You are thinking about the way it came back finally from Congress?
Mr. WEITZER. What I am talking about is that that job needs to be done. We want to clear up the slums. We want to prevent the creation of more slums. I think the first step in that is to take care of the people that are living in those areas. Now until you make a place for them, according to the legislation of the past you can't have an urban redevelopment program. That is an inherent factor in getting a redevelopment program approved by the Housing and Home Finance Agency. Until you get that you can't get public housing, and you have got an arrangement there where the thing just can't move, can't get off the ground. I think if you will come back to the principles of the Housing Act of 1949, and bring that up to date in accordance with the points I have just made, that you will have legislation that will enable you to get rid of the slums and take care of the people that are living there in a little bit better fashion. Cooperative housing
One other thing I want to touch on is this matter of cooperative housing. We feel for veterans, particularly veterans living in cities, in urban communities, that the cooperative housing along the lines that the builders use and at one time had before the committee, Senator, is really a very essential thing, because when I read the advertisements of these apartments that are going up around Washington, when I heard in this informal conference that we had the other day in New York State, with the help of the State aid and so on, you get to the point where you can rent an apartment for $22 a room, I am wondering where a man who makes only $70 or $80 a week and has 3 or 4 kids is going to live if he has to live in New York City. Not everybody can move out to some nice semirural community in Indiana where you can probably get housing for a lot less.
Senator CAPEHART. That's right, the best place to live is in Indiana.
Mr. WEITZER. A lot of people have to live in the cities; whether it's New York or Chicago or Milwaukee or San Francisco or Los Angeles, I get the same story, that you can't live in an apartment unless you are making $150 or $200 a week, and we are in no position to say that any large substantial part of the population is going to get into that category.
I think you ought to take up this question of cooperative housing and give us back an assistant commisisoner in FHÀ to take on the responsibility of helping the people who want to get cooperative housing. Thank you very much. Senator SPARKMAN. Thank you. I appreciate it.
. Without objection I should like to place in the record a letter from the National Society of Professional Engineers stating their views on S. 1800, and also one from the National Retail Lumber Dealers Association. Without objection we will place both of those in the record. We have invited different groups to submit statements since time would not permit all of them to testify.
(The letters referred to follow :) Slum clearance and urban renewal
NATIONAL SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS,
Washington, D. C., May 12, 1955. Hon. JOHN SPARKMAN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Housing, Senate Banking and Currency Committee,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR: The National Society of Professional Engineers has noted with great interest the introduction and present consideration of S. 1800, a bill to extend and clarify laws relating to the provision and improvement of housing, the elimination and prevention of slums, and the conservation and development of urban communities.
We request that the views expressed herein be incorporated into the record of the hearings.
Our interest is particularly in connection with section 17 of the pending legislation, which would amend section 702 of the Housing Act of 1954 by providing a permanent and enlarged program for advance planning of public-works projects.
The National Society of Professional Engineers has been interested in the advance planning programs since their inception as part of the War Mobilization and Reconversion Act of 1944, and we indicated our support of the continuation of these programs in 1947, in 1949, and again in 1954 when the Housing Act of 1954 was under consideration.
The three temporary advance-planning programs have provided opportunity for many members of the engineering profession to perform professional services in connection with projects of all types to improve the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of the Nation. Based on that experience, we feel that our organization is in a fair position to comment upon the present plan to establish the program on a permanent basis by the use of a revolving fund and to increase the authorized amounts available for advances. On three separate occasions, the board of directors of the National Society of Professional Engineers has considered the matter of supporting the programs, and this consideration has resulted in approval in each case.
It may be in order to state at this point that the National Society of Professional Engineers is composed of 39 member State societies, which, in turn, include over 350 local chapters in all parts of the Nation. All of the more than 35,000 members are registered under the engineering registration laws of one or more of the States.
Based on our experience as outlined and the comments of our members who have participated actively in the advance planning programs, we desire to inform the subcommittee of our continued support of the principles of a program for advance planning of non-Federal public works. We are gratified to know that consideration is now being given to making the program permanent and enlarging its scope by the authorization of additional funds. We are confident that the expanded program, combined with some assurance of continuity will do much to serve the public interest through careful and efficient planning of desirable and useful public works at the local and State levels.
We respectfully urge the subcommittee to approve the advance planning portion of the pending bill. Very truly yours,
PAUL H. ROBBINS, P. E.,