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because the Flanders amendments to the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill now constitute S. 866. You said you were for the Flanders amendments. Now, are you for S. 866 and is the American Legion recommending that this committee report out, in its present form, S. 866?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The American Legion is recommending that this committee amend S. 866 as passed by the Senate with the addition
The CHAIRMAN. Now, wait a minute. Do not evade the question, I do not think you intend to—but we know very well-you have made it very clear—you want us to amend S. 866 by including H. R. 4488. Now, I am asking you if the American Legion has taken a position in favor of the provisions of the present S. 866.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. You mean standing alone, free and clear from everything else?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; that is right.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. My answer to that is what I just said a moment ago. We go back to the time of our last national convention. At that
. time the Legion said it was not veterans' housing, therefore, we would not be for or against it.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Now, if H. R. 4488, then, is not included in S. 866, we understand that the American Legion's position is the same with respect to S. 866 as it was at the time of the convention, that it is not a veterans' housing bill, and, therefore, standing alone, the American Legion is not for it; is that right?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Not that it is not for it, but it is neither for nor against it, because it is not germane to the functions of the Legion, which is to be for veterans' housing. The CHAIRMAN. You said they did not take any action on it because
. they did not consider it of any assistance to the veterans.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. That is correct.
The CHAIRMAN. So you are not for it because it is not a veterans bill; is that correct?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. That is correct.
Mr. NICHOLSON. Might I ask what the vote was in the executive committee with respect to supporting this bill?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The American Legion's national executive committee?
Mr. NICHOLSON. Yes.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Unanimous, representing every department in the American Legion.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any provisions in S. 866 that you want to discuss in particular?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. No; except that one that the Colonel already mentioned, and which the chairman already inquired about-the 412 percent. We have a special mandate on that question. The report of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which held extensive hearings over the past 4 or 5 months, is complete in itself, and we are hopeful that the members of this committee will give due consideration to it.
The American Legion stands ready at any time to discuss the details of it, and will return to answer any questions that the committee might have.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to say that the American Legion housing committee has been of inestimable help to this committee in the
months gone by and we did not want you to go into the practice of doing a superficial job on this legislation, because you have done a splendid job in the past, and that is why the questions we have asked here were asked, to put you on guard that the executive committee of the American Legion, when they present a resolution, had better know what they are talking about. You have always done that the past. You have done a splendid job before this committee, and we do not want you to get slipshod in the manner in which you discuss and consider this legislation and present it to this committee.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. We do not think we are guilty of that, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I am sure that you do not intend to be, because you have been very helpful to us in the past.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. And I think it is well to reiterate that those who use the Legion as being opposed to the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill in its present or past form, are changing the real intent of the Legion, both by its last convention mandate and by its present policy. That is unfortunate. The Legion should not be used in that way.
The CHAIRMAN. I personally never thought the American Legion had taken a position for or against it, as you have said here today, and I have checked the attitude on the part of the people who said that the American Legion was opposed to this bill, because I have always asked them wherein the American Legion had ever taken a definite position on this bill. That is correct, is it not?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. That is correct, and we now say that if we take an omnibus bill, such as this one, and pass it, that part of that should be specific veterans' housing legislation. We ask that at this time, which we think is the appropriate time, that that be made a part of the bill, as you give consideration to it.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there further questions of Mr. Alessandroni ?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. We do not come here advocating the passage of S. 866. We come here asking that you amend S. 866 by adding to it the provisions of the Veterans' Homestead Act, H. R. 4488. Then, in its complete form, to give it consideration as an omnibus bill.
Mr. Smith. What is the problem of the veteran with respect to housing.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The real problem of the veteran today is, even though great strides have been made in the number of homes erected, that there are insufficient homes in his price category for him to be able to participate with other people, and his greatest need is for rental housing. The Legion's housing committee for some time felt that its efforts should be directed toward home ownership of each individual veteran, because unquestionably its aid to family life, and to the stability of the veteran, would be great. We have found that veteran groups are composed of the greatest floating population today. The veteran is at school, he is newly married, it is a new family. He is not certain as to where his job will be, and he does not want to tie himself down. So we feel that the number one aid that can be given to the veteran is for rental housing at the price he can afford, and, secondly, for the purchase of housing at a price he can afford.
Mr. SMITH. His problem, then, is lack of housing, is it not?
Mr. SMITH. Is it your idea that S. 866 will add to the number of houses?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. I do not think there is any question about that. Certainly it would add to the number of houses.
Mr. Smith. You do not think there is any question about that?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Not the slightest. There may be some question about the number, or the cost.
Mr. SMITH. Have you read the bill?
Mr. Smith. It provides for demolition of an equal number of houses, does it not, or about an equal number, to that being constructed under the program?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Is the Congressman referring to the public housing or the redevelopment section of S. 866 ?
Mr. SMITH. I am referring to title VI of S. 866, in connection with the redevelopment program, title V, of course.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The 'demolition of houses, under the public housing section, will be done at a later date. The re-development section, I am afraid, will have to wait until such time as the houses which they wish to demolish are no longer needed for occupancy.
Mr. SMITII. When does the demolition begin, then!
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The Congressman is now directing questions at me which are primarily concerned with S. 866 by itself, and I have tried to express that the Legion's position is; that is, S. 866, when added to it, special provisions for veterans' housing, becomes a truly omnibus bill for the population, and then a fit and proper bill for passage by the Congress.
Mr. SMITH. Does the fact that you hook these together change the provisions of S. 866 which have to do with replacement of housing, and not the construction of additional housing ?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The addition of H. R. 4488 would have no effect upon the present provisions of S. 866. It does not amend any of the present provisions. It merely adds to them.
Mr. SMITH. But it does not alter the fact that title V of S. 866 does not provide for additional housing, does it?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Well, I think it does.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. I think S. 866 says that it will provide for housing. How many it provides for and
Mr. Smith. Now, I asked you the specific question: additional housing, or replacement housing.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. I think it provides for both.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. I do not know how I can express it in any other way. It is my belief, in answer to your original question, that S. 866 will provide housing. Nobody can tell the exact number nor the exact cost. S. 866, with H. R. 4488, will provide additional housing, and the additional housing over and above that will be provided for veterans only.
Mr. SMITH. Title VI of S. 866 will provide additional housing ? Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Why, certainly.
Mr. Suith. It is a slum-clearance program, is it not?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Well, I would have to get a copy of S. 866. I do not have one with me. But one of the provisions is for aids to local governments for slum clearance. That is part of the bill. Now, if the Congressman means if only that section was passed, would we build any houses directly, the answer is probably no.
Mr. Smith. What is the declared policy of the act, the United States Housing Act, on that point? Have you read the section in point?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The preamble or just the slum clearance section?
Mr. SMITH. I would not say this is a preamble to the bill. S. 866 amends the United States Housing Act of 1937.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. That is correct.
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to promote the general welfare of the Nation by employing its funds and credit as provided in this act, to assist the several States and their political subdivisions to alleviate present and recurring unemployment and to remedy the unsafe and insanitary housing conditions and the acute shortage of decent, safe, and sanitary dwellings for families of low income
It is for the purpose of replacing slum dwellings, is it not? Basically?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. The original act, basically, was, yes; S. 866 today, of course, has a great number of things in it. For instance, it has a provision in it for building homes for paraplegics. That does not have anything to do with slum clearance.
Mr. Smith. But you are not answering my question. We are talking about titles V and VI of S. 866. Let us confine ourselves specifically to those two provisions, which are the heart of the proposed public housing program. You are not telling the committee this morning that the purpose of those two provisions of S. 866 is to increase the number of housing units, are you?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Yes.
Mr. Smith. To what extent has it done so up to the present time? We have had this housing program in effect since 1937. The Government has built 116,823 units under that program. Tell the committee, please, how many housing units were demolished or torn down?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. Obviously, I would not know the number that have been demolished, but the Congressman is taking various sections of the bill and asking me, standing alone, is that what we are for, is that the solution? Of course, the answer is “No." We are saying that if you take all these provisions, to take care of all the problems of housing, including our bill, then, you get a total bill which we think is worthy of consideration.
Mr. Smith. Very well, then. Let us take your proposition. There is an acute shortage of materials for construction of housing, and also the labor situation in that respect is tight at this time; is that true?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. That is correct.
Mr. Smith. The provisions to which I am referring in S. 866, titles V and VI, when put into operation, will compete for those materials, while at the same time they will not add additional housing. What have you to say about that! Or if they do add additional housing, the number of units would necessarily have to be small. What have you to say about that?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. There is no question that Congress' attempts to ease the housing situation by making credit easier have had the influence of making the prices of houses rise in a market that is limited both in skilled help and materials. But that is also true of the extension of the present title VI. Putting all those extra people in the market for houses, that might not be able to be in the market if title VI was not added to, or more appropriated to it, you are only driving the veteran out further because you are putting more people in the market.
Mr. SMITH. You do not care to answer the question, then?
The CHAIRMAN. Has the American Legion taken a position against title VI financing ?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. No more than it has taken a position against any of the other provisions that are in this bill, if it is taken as one.
The CHAIRMAN. You indicated that it was your opinion-were you speaking for yourself or the American Legion, when you said that the title VI created a demand for housing and you indicated that title VI financing was prejudicial to the veteran? Is that your own opinion or is that the American Legion's opinion?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. We have no mandate on it if that is what the chairman means. I can say that is the thinking of the housing committee. Standing alone, title VI's passage, with nothing else, will not help the veteran.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, wait a minute. Is it the opinion of the housing committee of the American Legion that we should not continue title VI financing ?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. No, I did not say that. I said that if it is passed alone, with no other kind of help to the veteran, it will not be helpful, but it will harm the veteran instead of helping him. As a matter of fact, if we make it 412 percent under that and retain the 4 percent for Veterans Administration loans, you are going to make it more attractive for the 41/2 percent, and we will get less loans than we have today under the act. I am talking about title VI standing by itself. If we put them all together—the value to S. 866 is because it is an attempt to take care of all the problems of housing.
The CHAIRMAN. Standing alone, then, title VI financing is prejudicial to the veteran?
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. I did not say that. I said it is not veterans legislation. It will not help the veteran to the degree that some of the proponents think it will. Standing alone, by itself.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not know as there has ever been any claim that title VI financing is presumed to be a veterans' bill.
Mr. ALESSANDRONI. That is why it was passed originally, to help the veteran.