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Mr. BANTA. The social worker does it all the time, for people who receive public assistance, whether they are living in publicly owned projects or privately owned projects. They make up their budget for them, once every year or once every 6 months, and included in their budget is an amount sufficient to pay the rent, and they give them a check for it. Even under the terms of the Social Security law they are required to give them enough to meet costs of rent, food, clothing, and so forth. And they take that into consideration in the privately owned properties, if they are living in privately owned properties, just as when they are living in the publicly owned projects.
Mr. MASLEN. În the first place, in many communities, the relief administration allows enough rent so that the family can move into a public development, and the fact that the family has been investigated by the welfare agency obviously simplifies the problem of Public Housing Administration.
In the second place, I think the major problem in connection with that suggestion is that the communities simply do not have proper housing into which those families can move, and that it is not merely a problem of the individual house, it is a problem of neighborhood. Of course, before the war this problem was much more high lighted, when many American communities, the big cities, were just rotting at the core, and were on the verge of bankruptcy. There is testimony to that effect. The war came along and obscured that financial problem for the time being, but nevertheless you do have this physical and financial problem, which this bill attempts to solve by providing for the physical reconstruction of the total community in those sections that are blighted and are slums.
Mr. BANTA. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Cook. Mrs. Stanley G. Cook is legislative chairman, National Congress of Parents and Teachers.
Mrs. Cook, we are very happy to have you proceed.
Mrs. Cook. My name is Mrs. Stanley Cook of Indian Head, Md. STATEMENT OF MRS. STANLEY G. COOK, LEGISLATION CHAIRMAN,
NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS Mrs. Cook. Chairman Wolcott and Members of the House Banking and Currency Committee:
I wish to submit this statement on behalf of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, an organization of 4,486,855 men and women. I might say that one-third of that number is composed of men, so we are not an exclusively women's organization. We are in every State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii.
Our organization has five objects which are to be found in its bylaws and the bylaws of every local unit in its membership. They are:
To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, church, and community; to raise the standards of home life; to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth; to bring the home and school into closer relationship, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the training of the child; and to develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for every child the highest advantages in physical, mental, social and spiritual education.
You will note in these objects that the National Congress of Parents and Teachers considers the home the first in the four basic influences in the life of the child. Because this is true, the second object seeks to raise the standards of home life so that in cooperation of educators and the general public, through the agencies of school, community, and church, the child may obtain the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual development.
You will note also, that one of these objects is to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
In accordance with these objectives, as a national organization, we are giving active support to legislation which will help remedy the present serious housing shortage, eliminate slum areas, and provide an opportunity for every American family to have a decent home.
While we realize that fine houses do not always make fine homes, we do recognize the fact that houses which do not furnish adequate provisions for good health, a decent amount of privacy, and recreational facilities are breeding grounds for crime and juvenile delinquency. Unless Congress acts in the near future to relieve the present situation of acute housing shortage, there will be an inevitable increase in the toll from disease, delinquency, and crime which will not only add to the burden of our taxpayers but will undermine the strength of our Nation.
Although the war and the more rapid increase in our population these past 2 years has added to the present critical shortage in housing, we know, too, that the predicament is due to a lack of coordinated planning for private and public housing on a national scale over a period of years. Consequently, we feel that the Government should establish a consistent housing policy which will coordinate the agencies relating to housing and that they should improve existing statutory tools to the end that with maximum reliance on private enterprise and local initiative the housing needs of the entire Nation may be solved.
In the past 2 years, the veterans emergency housing program has relieved the situation to a very small degree, but we find that some of this housing is only temporary and the most of it is out of the reach of the average income family.
In the past, as in the present, it is the great mass of our citizenry who come within the middle-income groups which have suffered most from this lack of adequate and decent housing. It is from these homes that the greatest numbers of our fighting forces have come; they have supplied the war-workers in civilian life; in aggregate, their taxes as well as their savings bonds have been the financial mainstay of our treasury; they are truly the backbone of our Nation.
Many of these families have saved enough money to start buying homes if contracts are long enough and flexible enough to make them feel secure in their ability to hold them. Legislation should be passed with provisions making the initial payment easier, lessening the monthly financial charge and extending the period for repayment of the loan.
Repayment of loans through the Farm Credit Administration on long-term contract demonstrate the feasibilty of this type of loan. Anyone familiar with the rehabilitation of former tenant farmers and share croppers who have become home owners and respected citizens of the communities in which they live, through the Farm Security Program, knows that such programs will and do work. This contributes to the upbuilding of any community and helps to stabilize our population.
Of special concern are the families in the lowest-income group which cannot afford to buy or rent decent housing provided by private enterprise. Left to their own resources they are doomed to live in blighted areas. Local interest in their problems has led to urban redevelopment laws in some States. However, we find that most of these have failed because the cities and towns have been unable to carry out their plans because of financial losses. It is apparent that cities and towns will need some Federal subsidy to clear these slums and redevelop their blighted areas.
These low-income families are found on farms and in rural areas, also. No comprehensive housing program should neglect the rural areas. It should be noted that rural farmhouses in general are inferior and less adequate than those of urban dwellers. Special loans or grants should be made to farm families to enable them to own standard homes and to provide decent housing for those working on farms, the loan or grant depending upon the income of the farmer.
The only legislation pending today which holds hope for the millions of families which need decent homes in the Taft-Wagner-Ellender bill. Our organization is supporting this bill, S. 866, as it did S. 1592, because we feel that in the provisions of this bill all groups are cared for; those who rent as well as those who are prospective home owners. Also, it gives private enterprise the means whereby it can more easily exceed the best record in home building which it has had in the past. This bill places responsibility on the Federal Government for public housing, especially slum clearance. This is a responsibility which the Federal Government will have to assume if every family in this nation is to have the opportunity to rent or own a decent home.
Homes are the foundation stone of a nation; the White House Conference on Children in a Democracy in 1940 called them the “Threshold of Democracy.” The best way to preserve our Democracy is to preserve the home as an institution. However, one must first have a home before he has the urge to preserve it. A comprehensive housing program such as that proposed in the General Housing Act should be passed through this session of Congress and it will receive the wholehearted support of our members throughout this Nation.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there questions of Mrs. Cook!
Mr. Smith. Mrs. Cook, do you believe that politically owned housing is the threshold of democracy?
Mrs. Cook. You say “politically owned”. Do you mean public housing?
Mr. Smith. That is the same thing.
Mrs. Cook. It would be in some income groups, because it would provide the opportunity for some to have a decent home who would not otherwise have a home which we would consider adequate.
Mr. Smith. That makes public housing the threshold of democracy!
Mrs. Cook. No; I did not say that in my statement, sir. I said that the home is considered the threshold of democracy.
Mr. SMITH. I am speaking now of politically owned homes. Is that a part of the threshold of democracy?
Mrs. Cook. I did not quite understand the first part of your question.
Mr. SMITH. That portion of the homes which would be politically owned, is that a part of the threshold of democracy?
Mrs. Cook. I would think that anything which would provide the opportunity for family to strive towards having an adequate home would be part of our democracy.
Mr. SMITH. Part of the threshold of democracy?
Mrs. Cook. As long as it provided for those income groups who are not now able to have decent housing.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there further questions? (No response.)
The CHAIRMAN. If not, thank you, Mrs. Cook, We are very glad to have your testimony.
The committee will stand in recess until 10 a. m., Monday.
(Whereupon, at 12:30 p. m., the committee adjourned to reconvene on Monday, May 17, 1948, at 10 a. m.)