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The most critical example of this is Savannah, Ga. In this community, a number of colored families will be moved from what is known as the Old Fort area. We are advised that, because the site selected for the housing project in Savannah is of historical interest, city officials have decided that the project must be for whites only.
Under the FHA program, the city of Washington is ringed with new develop ments for white persons only only. We are informed by builders that there are ironclad agreements between FHA and various lending institutions under which new housing areas must be designated for a specific racial group. Hence, in the areas surrounding Washington, practically all of the FHA-insured developments are for whites only. This is the typical pattern of FHA operations in the North and West; in the South, FHA operations generally reinforce patterns of residential segregation.
The defense housing program will, undoubtedly, follow the same pattern of segregation now in effect under the other housing operations. The policy set forth in the Administrator's letter to Congressman Abraham J. Multer, dated November 26, 1951, clearly permits continued segregation.
During the debate on the Defense Housing bill in the first session of the 82d Congress, Congressman Multer stated that he had been advised by FHA that questions pertaining to segregation in housing aided by the Federal Government had been taken care of by administrative regulation. At that same time, the FHA through its General Counsel, Mr. B. C. Bovard, said the following:
“I know nothing in the National Housing Act or in rules and regulations thereunder which would authorize the (FHA) Commissioner to require that mortgagors disregard racial considerations in the selection of their tenants. This would appear to be a matter for determination by the mortgagor and not by this Administration."
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 U. S., 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 guarantee that the housing made available wilı 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 housino imposed with the help of the United States Government itself?
Mr. MITCHELL. We have taken this problem all the way to the White House. In order not to misquote anybody, Mr. Chairman, I would like to read that part of the testimony which has to do with the way the President has fitted into this picture. It is about three paragraphs.
Senator SPARKMAN. All right.
Mr. MITCHELL. When the new Administrator took office, our organization met with him on March 15, 1953, to discuss the problem and
to make recommendations for correction. During that year, we had additional meetings with the Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency on May 7 and July 22. It is significant that in the July 22 meeting seven major national organizations also urged the Administrator to act on this problem.
When the President sent his housing message to Congress on January 25, 1954, it contained a reference to the problem of minorities in the housing field as well as a promise that something would be done about it. Questions on what would be done have been raised with the President from time to time by various organizations, including the NAACP.
On April 7, 1954, Miss Ethel Payne, Washington correspondent of the Chicago Defender, asked the President in his press conference what was being done to implement the promise of his January 25 message. At that time, he said he would look into the matter. On May 5, 1954, the same reporter asked what had been learned when he “looked into the matter," and the President suggested that she check with the housing agencies for her answer.
The New York Times of August 5, 1954, carried this version of what the President said at his press conference on the previous day when he was asked about minority housing policies:
He had tried as hard as he knew how to have accepted this idea, that where Federal funds and Federal authority were involved, that there should be no discrimination based on any reason that was not recognized by our Constitution. He would continue to do that.
On August 11, 1954, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, a colored organization, asked President Eisenhower to instruct Government housing agencies to revise their policies so that Government-assisted housing would be open to all qualified persons without regard to race.
Instead of the President coming to grips with this problem he has called a series of short conferences. One of those was held December 9 and 10, 1954. They had 40 leading organizations of the country present. The most we could get out of that conference was the impression it was hoped these people would somehow agree to a program that the National Home Builders sponsored, which program was to have 10 percent of all the housing they had built set aside for colored people.
There was some fine print in that proposal, though, because it also said, “provided suitable sites could be found,” which in our experience means near a rendering plant, a city dump or an abandoned graveyard.
Another thing the housing agencies took into consideration was the question of what they call a voluntary mortgage program. Our organization suggested three basic recommendations which we thought would correct this problem. The majority of the organizations present subscribe to those principles and they are set forth on page 5 of our testimony. As yet the Housing and Home Finance Agency has completely ignored these requests but has been actively promoting the idea of percentage housing for minority groups, this idea of voluntary home-mortgage programs.
They got out a big release, for example, on March 7, in which they had a great to-do about a colored man they had found some mortgage
money for here in the city of Washington. It is a page and a half, single-spaced news release in which they talk about this colored man who had so much trouble finding housing, and through the voluntary mortgage program they helped him out. It is a farce because the man is living in a neighborhood where there is no controversy about whether colored people are near there or not; and I cannot see how anything was helped by that action.
În conclusion I would like to call attention to the fact that last year or the year before—I am not certain and cannot remember which it was now—this question was before the committee and a proposal was made that some positive action might be taken by the Government to remedy this condition. We did not support that proposal, but Mr. Cole, and we think quite rightly, said he did not want to have anything done which represented special treatment for minority groups. He did say he was going to undertake to do certain things on a voluntary basis.
What he did not say is that he would require lenders and builders who received Federal help to admit everybody to the housing they build, without discrimination.
He has made another speech recently in which he says, “As Housing Administrator I have a good deal of authority that I have not used. I have not used it because I want private industry to do the job. I have leaned over backward, gentlemen, to see private enterprise take the opportunity.” That was a speech he was making to the National Conference of Mutual Savings Banks on May 17.
In other words, they continue to keep firing off this unloaded popgun about housing so far as minority groups are concerned, but they will not do the basic thing they need to do, which is adopt an overall policy such as we have recommended.
That brings me to what I have we can lay on the hearth of the committee members. We believe that the Congress has an obligation to do what the administrative branch of the Government, although it has the power to do so, is not doing. We would like to urge that there be included in the legislation whatever it is that comes out of this committee, a provision which says that “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."
Gentlemen, I have been before the House of Representatives. Back in March we urged that as a part of the Reserve training program there be incorporated an amendment which would do two things: One, that the people who wanted to serve in the National Guard could serve without being humiliated by segregation under this Reserve program; and the second thing was that the Governer of a State could
a not ask for colored people to be forced into segregated units of a National Guard. We were opposed by a great many people who said that national defense was at stake and we should not do this. Yesterday the House, by a substantial vote, incorporated those amendments in the bill. I do not know what the final outcome is, but this morning Mr. Vinson of Georgia was on the floor suggesting that he would be willing to go along with part of what we recommended. In other words, he said he thought we were right in saying that the Governor of a State should not have the power to seize colored people and shove them into segregated National Guard units, when the Army of the United States is integrated and everybody is supposed to be fighting for the defense of democracy.
I think if Mr. Vinson in his fairmindedness can admit we are right in that situation, I do not know what political hazard it is for him to admit it, but certainly the members of this committee, who are men of great reputation and great ability can look at this thing above sectionalism and above political considerations, and give to the people who are adversely affected, a remedy.
I want to say in all deference to the chairman of this subcommittee it is not the Southern Senators of this committee who will kill this amendment if it is killed. We have called attention to the fact that there are 11 members of this 15-man full committee, who come from Northern States.
If this amendment fails to come out nobody can say that the South killed it. It will be because the North, which had the majority of the votes, was indifferent and just would not push for it.
Senator SPARKMAN. Senator Payne.
Senator SPARKMAN. Thank you very much. I wish we had time to discuss it at some length, but I appreciate your presentation.
Mr. MITCITELL. Thank you, Senator.
(Mr. Mitchell's prepared statement follows:) Minority group housing
TESTIMONY OF CLARENCE MITCHELL, DIRECTOR OF THE WASHINGTON BUREAU OF
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am Clarence Mitchell, director of the Washington Bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Thé national-housing program is a cruel and disgusting hoax so far as colored citizens of the United States are concerned. Each year, through the expenditures of millions of dollars in FHA, VA, and slum-clearance programs, the United States is expanding housing segregation.
It is an incredible paradox that the same Government which has valiantly and successfully fought racial segregation on other fronts is actively promoting segregation in the places where our citizens live.
An analysis of census data, 1940–50, reveals the following facts :
Nonwhites comprised 10.3 percent of the total population in 1950, but occupied only 8.6 percent of all occupied dwelling units.
The nonwhite population increased at a faster rate than the number of dwelling units it occupied (15 percent against 10 percent) whereas the reverse was true for whites (14 percent against 23 percent). For nonfarm areas alone, the nonwhite population rose by nearly 40 percent, while the number of dwelling units it occupied increased by only 31 percent.
The proportion of overcrowded units (with more than 112 persons per room) among nonfarm dwellings occupied by nonwhites was some 4 times as high as that for whites.
In nonfarm housing only, the proportion of dilapidated homes among nonwhites was 5 times as high as among whites (27 percent as compared to 5.4 percent) and, in addition, the proportion of homes not dilapidated but lacking in 1 or more of piped running water, private flush toilet, private bathtub or shower was more than twice as high among nonwhites as among whites (35 percent as compared to 17 percent).
Although home ownership rose sharply among nonwhites during the decade 1940–50, nearly two-thirds of the nonwhite households in nonfarm areas were still renters in 1950 as compared with 45 percent of white nonfarm households.
We offer evidence found in 1950 Census of Population, covering 168 standard metropolitan areas. These data show a marked difference between whites and
nonwhites in the pattern of growth within standard metropolitan areas during the decade. The increase of the white population within the central cities was 10.1 percent in contrast to 35.9 percent outside of these cities; the increase of the nonwhite population was 48.3 percent within the central cities and 32 percent outside. These figures, based as they are on the overall average, tend to obscure the striking contrast that exists in the cities showing significant increases of nonwhite population. In the vast majority of these cities, practically all of the population increase for nonwhites has concentrated in the central city while the bulk of the increase among the white population is shown outside of the central city.
In short, the prevailing pattern is that of a central city, with rapidly increasing and spreading residency by racial minorities, ringed by expanding relatively new all white suburban areas. The conditions under which these new areas are developed and sold or rented effectively retain them as white residential areas whether or not racial restrictive covenants are used. Significantly, it is these areas into which most new residential construction has taken place.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has consistently urged that the Congress, the executive branch of Government, and the courts eliminate the blight of second-class citizenship from the housing field.
Our efforts have been partly successful in that we have ended court enforcement of racial, restrictive covenants. Where there is a willing seller, and a colored purchaser has the money and access to lending resources, segregation is ending in many old-housing units in metropolitan areas.
In contrast, where new housing is built with the help of the resources of the Veterans' Administration, the Federal Housing Agency, and other Federal agencies, there is an iron-clad policy of building whole cities for whites only.
The classic example of this is found in Bucks County, Pa., in a development known as Levittown. The builder of this development could not have done so without the aid of the Federal Government. To many, he may be the example of a successful builder, but, in the eyes of minority group members who are denied housing by him solely because of race, he is a symbol of the encroachment of police-state methods in America.
The present policy of restriction in the housing field is a startling repudiation of all that the traditional supporters of free enterprise are supposed to stand for. Can anyone imagine the automobile industry restricting its sales to whites only? Can anyone imagine a man who wants to sell refrigerators ignoring a substantial part of his potential market simply because that market is not white? Yet, this is exactly what is happening in the real estate and housing field.
Those who have new housing to sell or land that is available for development must give assurance to lending institutions and often to local governments that the housing and land will be used for whites only. There is not a single top Federal official in the housing field who does not know this is happening and who does not by action or failure to act help to continue it.
The current policy of the Housing and Home Finance Agency is to make a lot of noise about the existence of the problem but do nothing about it. The HHFA's approach to the minority housing problem is like shooting off fireworks to scare away evil spirits.
Again and again, there have been pronouncements and meetings about the problem of minority-group housing. Coming out of these meetings, one is keenly aware of the fact that the Housing and Home Finance Agency believes that the solution to the problem of minority-group housing is the building of more segregated housing rather than intergration into existing structures.
The latest report from the Housing and Home Finance Agency indicates that on May 16 Administrator Albert M. Cole announced that he would call to Washington representatives of 25 big Negro life insurance companies and banks in an effort to get more mortgage money into housing for minorities.
Let us suppose that these lending institutions do provide more funds. The immediate question which arises is what effect will this have on the segregated housing patterns in Levittown, Pa., or, indeed, in Montgomery County, Prince Georges County, and Arlington County, Va.? We might also ask what effect additional money will have on problems presented by slum-clearance programs which are reducing the land space available to colored homeowners and renters in Baltimore, Md., Birmingham, Ala., Savannah, Ga., and other cities without adequate plans to see that the persons displaced are rehoused or given an opportunity to return to the area when it is redeveloped.
We have placed this problem before Congress and housing officials and the President many times.