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WORCESTER, Mass., May 16, 1955. Senator JOHN SPARKMAN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Housing, Senate Office Building,
Washington, D. C.: Amendment to administration housing bill which would allow savings and loan banks to make loans to small builders and acquire land in connection with urban renewal projects will aid renewal work here respectfully urge your support.
LUTHER C. SMALL, Executive Director, Worcester Housing Authority.
MILWAUKEE, Wis., May 16, 1955. Senator John SPARKMAN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Housing, United States Senate,
Washington, D. C.: Understand proposal will be presented your committee to amend the housing bill with bill of Chairman Spence of the House Committee which would restore independence of home loan bank board. This board is in effect the reserve bank of the savings and loan industry it is self-sustaining and incurs no direct governmental expense. It has no direct functions with housing administrator. The Spence Bill, H. R. 5945, also provides for the retirement of the treasury stock in federal savings and loan insurance corporations approximately $66 million. As executive committeeman of the U. S. Savings and Loan League for 6 midwest States may I respectfully urge your earnest consideration and approval of this proposed amendment together with other proposed measures covering urban renewal projects and provision to buy securities approved by Home Loan Bank Board.
CHARLES MCKEOWN, President, Consolidated Savings & Loan Association.
WORCESTER, Mass., May 16, 1955, Senator SPARKMAN,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: As an area small builder of Worcester and Paxton, Mass., I am in favor of the bill pending allowing savings and loan associations to purchase, develop, and lend on raw land, which will enable many small builders to go along and build without endeavoring to carry the financial burden alone. Which in a large tract sometimes is impossible. Respectfully,
FRANKLIN G. FLEMING, Jr.,
WORCESTER, Mass., May 16, 1955. Senator JOHN SPARKMAN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Housing,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. Urge your support of amendment to administration housing bill permitting savings and loans to make loans and acquire land in connection with urban renewal projects. It will greatly aid in the revitalization of our New England cities.
JOSEPH T. BENEDICT, President, New England Regional Council, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
LOWELL, MAss., May 16, 1955. Senator JOHN SPARKMAN, Chairman of Subcommittee on Housing;
United States Senate, Washington, D.C. Strongly urge passage of the amendment to the administration housing bill permitting saving and loan groups to give loans to small builders and to acquire land for urban renewal projects. This is important to a workable renewal program.
CHARLES M. ZETTEK, Planning Director for City Planning and Urban Renewal. STOCKTON, CALIF., May 16, 1955. Senator JOHN SPARKMAN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Housing,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D.O. Strongly favor plan to incorporate provisions of Representative Spence's H. R. 5945 as an amendment to the administration housing bill. Have always favored independence of Home Loan Bank Board and believe it should now be accomplished since all of the stock in Federal Home Loan Bank System is owned by its member institutions. We also support the plan to allow Federal associations to acquire land and make loans to small builders up to 5 percent of withdrawable accounts and also to invest in securities approved by Home Loan Bank Board. We urge your support of this legislation.
HAROLD A. NOBLE,
Loan Association of Stockton, Calif.
FIRST FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION OF MIAMI,
Miami, Fla., May 16, 1955. Hon. JOHN SPARKMAN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Housing,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR SPARKMAN: We earnestly request your active support of proposed legislation which provides for independent status of the Home Loan Bank Board and the related activities which it supervises. You know, of course, how helpful the Federal Home Loan Bank System has been, and continues to be, in strengthening the economy of the Nation.
The System is now owned entirely by its member institutions which bear all expenses of operation. No Federal funds are appropriated for this purpose, nor are any held in the System's capital structure. No community of interest or advuntage can be served by keeping under the supervision of an administrator. We strongly feel that only as an independent agency, such as it once was, can it efficiently and successfully carry forward its two great objectives of encouraging thrift and home ownership.
We are also very much in favor of limited authority for Federal associations to take a more active part in urban renewal projects, and for a broadening of investment powers of such associations to permit them to buy securities as approved by the Home Loan Bank Board.
These matters will undoubtedly be discussed more fully in the hearing before your committee.
We hope you feel favorably inclined toward our views and that you will do what you can toward adoption of these measures which we sincerely believe to be in the best interests of our national economy. Respectfully,
R. V. WALKER,
Executive Vice President. Senator SPARKMAN. Mr. Mills, we are glad to have you with us. Mr. Mills is from Gadsden, Ala. He has long been intimately connected with a good strong housing program. We are glad to have you with us.
Mr. Mills. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I also have with me Mr. John D. Lange, who is the executive director of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. Slum clearance and urban redevelopment
STATEMENT OF WALTER B. MILLS, JR., PRESIDENT, ACCOMPANIED
BY WILLIAM L. SLAYTON, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, AND JOHN D. LANGE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOUSING AND REDEVELOPMENT OFFICIALS
Mr. Mills. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials is a nonprofit, professional association of citizens and local public officials interested in furthering good public administration in the fields of housing and urban redevelopment. The members of our organization are, by and large, those who are administering the public housing and urban renewal programs in cities throughout the United States. We have a real interest in the legislation, therefore, for we are anxious that it provide the best possible tools to enable us to assist in carrying out its objectives.
When I got off the plane here late last night in Washington I was given a copy of the testimony or the evidence offered to your committee by the National Association of Real Estate Boards. I was surprised to see in that evidence or testimony that they took this association to task. Since it is completely unfounded I want to take this opportunity to discredit that part of that testimony and to point up to you that in a great many instances you have omissions of the real truth and facts that cannot be substantiated. They state:
For example, when President Truman in 1952 requested 75,000 public housing units a year, no opposition was heard from the now articulate supporters of Government ownership of family shelter as to the insufficiency of this number. However, in 1954, when this administration requested 35,000 units per year, representatives of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials came before this committee requesting 5 million units.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to cite the hearings before this august committee last year when the president of our association said, and I quote from your report:
The President's Advisory Committee had before it published evidence that approximately half of all the families in redevelopment areas were in the income groups eligible for public housing. Since it is apparent that 10 million families will have to be relocated under an effective program of housing and rehousing, there is certainly indicated a need for housing of 5 million families of low income as a result of future redevelopment and rehabilitation. It would be optimistic to assume that half of those families can be located in existing or rehabilitated units. Thus, there is an enormous need for additional public housing for relocation alone.
As I say, this was given to me at a very late hour and I haven't had an opportunity to go through it. I do know, sir, that just recently in Headlines, in the May 2 edition, they had an editorial on the front page in which they cited we were not serving the low-income families, and they used Washington, D. C. as an example. Of course, it's a known fact that about half a person in each thousand are receiving public assistance in Washington, whereas the national average is 6 or 7 persons per thousand, and there were only 31 families receiving public assistance in the housing units provided by the National Capital Housing Authority.
Well, sir, it would be very easy to pick up the telephone and call the National Capital Housing Authority and find there are somewhere in excess of 400 families receiving public assistance, houses right here in the city of Washington.
It is very unfortunate, sir, that they would also publish in that same editorial-I am sure this testimony bears that out—that the mayor of the fine city of Detroit, Mich., was unable to get any information from the housing authority. The mayor has refuted that statement, and Headlines has had to publish a retraction on it.
I would like to submit for the record of this committee an address by Charles E. Slusser, which was made yesterday, May 17, at the Annual Conference of the Southwestern Regional Council of our asso
public housing has become the whipping boy at these annual affairs. We run the gauntlet.
Periodically, all the old housing bogies are dragged out by NAREB for public display—the old chestnuts are refurbished.
Eight years ago NAREB was saying that public housing was a "fascistic, communistic, socialistic doctrine." Public housing, they said then, “is a danger to freedom, a danger to home ownership, and a danger to our form of government." In 1947, a NAREB spokesman told a Senate committee that public housing could destroy the country's entire private housing industry.
They have kept it up. Last year NAREB alleged from Washington, D. C., that public housing failed to house needy families; it was a special privilege and a political racket; it was a Russian custom; it herded families together into ghettos, and it is an unfair burden on home owners.
In 1955, NAREB's tune is largely the same. The lyrics are but little different in the May 2 editorial. They said this year that public housing is a form of mental sickness. It does not eliminate crime and delinquency. It is not public. Who wants it? And has it done any good ?
The passage of time has not had any visible effect on NAREB's public housing views.
Not much. NAREB asked the hackneyed question : “Does public housing take care of the needy?” Earlier in my remarks we examined their statement concerning the National Capital Housing Authority. What is the national picture?
Our records show that during the first half of 1954, the recheck of over 142,000 families living in low-rent public housing showed an average annual income of $1,852 after allowable exemptions. For families admitted during that time, the figure was $1,810. We have no data yet on rechecks for the rest of 1954, but the 30,000 families moving in during October, November, and December 1954 had average annual incomes of only $1,803 after exemptions, $7 less than those admitted in the first half of the year.
These families then were existing on an income of $150 a month. I say they needed help from public housing. Further, 30 percent of the families admitted during the last quarter of 1954 were receiving public or private relief or some form of public benefit.
What is NAREB's definition of need? What are they doing about it? Beyond pious platitudes, have they any practical solution for getting these people out of slums into decent, livable housing ?
Take a long look at NAREB's oft-repeated assertion that public housing means the extinction of the private home-building industry. A look at the figures leads me to question the plaintiff note in the May 2 tirade, “Public housing strikes down a large element of the construction industry, always a main source of investment and jobs.”
What is the record ?
The housing census of 1950 showed there were 46 million dwelling units in the United States, a net gain since 1940 of almost 9 million units. Of the total number, 39 million were classified by the census as nonfarm units, with the balance classified as rural farm dwellings.
A large part of the increase in nonfarm housing was accounted for by 5.7 million new units constructed between 1940 and 1950.
How many federally aided low-rent public housing units were started in that decade? About 150,000. Who's being shoved into oblivion?
Now, let's take a look at housing starts for the past 5 years.
Private enterprise started construction on almost 6 million dwelling units in that period.
Local housing authorities started construction on a total of 204,000 low-rent units.
Elementary arithmetic will show low-rent public housing accounted for just about 3 percent of the total nonfarm housing starts. If this 3 percent is scaring 97 percent, it is the wonder of the age. The only people we're really scaring are the slum landlords.
Obviously, public housing is neither throttling private enterprise, nor dooming the private building industry to extinction—a charge trumpeted by NAREB.
NĀREB’s Washington editorial also asked “Does public housing eliminate crime and delinquency?” And it answered, “All the news we get is that both are on the increase everywhere in our cities, regardless of public housing."
Public housing will not solve every problem of the current age. Just as the police departments, the fire departments, and the welfare departments of your cities do not eliminate crime, fire, and disease entirely. But without any of beauty, the better. Obviously, a project, the work it is doing, will become more accepted when it is a local enterprise than when it is not.
And now, having said that I want public housing to be a local enterprise, I must tell you that there are also occasions when the Public Housing Commissioner intends to exercise his prerogative to speak for all of you without sideline coaching or prompting. When this program is unjustly attacked, I intend to take the first public opportunity to answer.
To clear up any doubts that might exist in any minds, my remarks are occasioned by an editorial put out by the Washington office of the National Association of Real Estate Boards in their May 2 publication, Headlines, and signed by their president, Henry G. Waltemade.
Less than a year ago I spoke in Philadelphia at NAHRO's annual national convention. I discussed then the almost fanatical campaign directed against public housing by the National Association of Real Estate Boards, of which I am a member. I said I would not let distortion and fraud go unchallenged. Evi. dently NAREB does not take me at my word, because this newest editorial shows neither regard for facts nor an intelligent understanding of the program. There are methods of supporting a cause or a system. You can lead with the truth or you can mislead with unsupportable propaganda.
Valid, constructive criticism should never be rejected. But we have not had this from NAREB. Instead, behind a thin veneer of respectability, we have had the unlikeliest set of conclusions that were ever based on not wishful, but willful thinking.
I am not unaware that these offensives begin at the time our Congress considers new housing legislation. So be it. Let us examine the previously mentioned May 2, 1955, editorial.
First, they ask, “Does public housing take care of the needy?” Their answer as “Hardly ever. In Washington, D. C., the model of Federal experimentation, a study showed that only 47 of more than 4,000 families receiving welfare aid were permitted in public housing.” The propaganda went on from there, but what are the facts? They need to be brought out.
NAREB tells you that there are only 47 Washington, D. C., families receiving relief being benefitted by public housing. There are 399 such families in Washington's public housing. A dime local phone call to the National Capital Housing Authority would have established the facts. NAREB's Washington office could
I give NAREB its poor choice. It has used either faked or negligent statistics. In either case, owes an abject apology to the National Capital Housing Authority, in particular and the public housing movement in general, and I for one haven't the time to wait for it.
There are more than faked statistics in this matter. Washington, D. C.'s, welfare load wasn't picked at random as an illustrative case. It was used in this instance because it is among the lowest in the country. Washington has only eight-tenths of a person out of a thousand on relief, while the national average is six and a half persons out of a thousand. Not satisfied to use an extreme case that completely distorts the national situation, the writer of this Washington, D. C., editorial had to give false figures, exaggerated by more than eight times.
In this same editorial of May 2, 1955, NAREB charges that “the mayor of Detroit was refused information by the public housing authority in his city." I have had the honor of knowing Mayor Cobo. In addition, I know something, as public housing commissioner, of the operation of public housing in that city and the State of Michigan, which requires all public housing authorities, or commissions as they are referred to there, to operate directly under the control of the city government. Given that as a fact, how could any public housing commission in Michigan refuse information to its mayor, let alone the Detroit Housing Commission refuse Mayor Cobo?
Not content with the obvious falsity of this charge by NAREB, I have had my office contact that of Mayor Cobo, with regard to this statement. He authorized us to deny its veracity and to state that the Detroit Housing Commission has at no time denied him information, but quite the contrary, has always supplied it. On what figment of imagination NAREB has based this charge, I do not know. I do know, and Mayor Cobo knows, that it is false.
Like many national organizations, NAREB meets annually, and for the most part, much good accrues to the realtor and the real estate industry from the interchange of ideas at these meetings. But unfortunately, through the years,