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Mr. EDWARDS. That is my best recollection. As a member of the council, I pass on all of the housing bonds and all the bids I have seen were made by private investors.
Mr. BANTA. Have you made an analysis of this bill with a view to determining what extent the Federal Housing Administration will be able to control not only the cities but the persons who live in these projects?
Mr. EDWARDS. There are no controls, in my estimation, that will apply to family life in any one of these projects, which are anything greater than the normal landlord-tenant relationship.
Mr. BANTA. Are there any controls which might apply to the cities by the Federal agency administering this law!
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, there are and there have been in previous public housing projects. I think the Federal Government has some reason to want to protect itself and its investments. There has been an area of friction between the local authorities and the Federal authorities in the administration of public housing.
Mr. BANTA. It goes rather far beyond just the Government protecting itself. For instance, when the Federal agency tells your executive director or your local authority, "Here is a man we want you to put in this development.”
Mr. Edwards. I have seen nothing in the bill, sir, which would allow the Federal Housing Authority to name by name the person who was going in. They do have the right to establish the minimum income figures.
Mr. Banta. There is at least one person in your public housing whom the Federal agency directed to be put in there.
Mr. EDWARDS. Is that right?
Mr. BANTA. Still he was required to put him in there and his answer was he liked it.
Mr. EDWARDS. Well, I will just tell you one thing about the regime while I was director of the Detroit Housing Commission. Yo representative of the Federal Housing Administration ever told us to put anybody in, and if they had, we would have regarded that as a viola
al prerogatives and we would have made our own determination on it.
Mr. Banta. Ending up, always, however, as you do in all such cases, either you do it or you are not able to get the funds.
Mr. EDWARDS. I find, Mr. Banta, that if you are able to carry your share of the argument, you do not end up on the losing end in every instance. I have spent 2 years battling various and sundry provisions with the Federal boys down here in Washington and out there in Detroit, and I think that we broke even on most of the arguments.
Mr. BANTA. Well, breaking even would mean 50 percent of the time they win.
Nr. EDWARDS. Maybe 50 percent of the time they are right.
Mr. Edwards. Congress has some very good people, you know, Mr. Banta.
We do not have a monopoly on ability in this field in local government. Some of the Housing Authority people have had experience which is very valuable to local authorities. But I assure you that I am one of those who is a little bit jealous about any in
fringement of our own local autonomy and I have tried to defend it as much as I personally could.
Mr. Banta. Well, I would assume from your testimony that you are that type of person. Yet, as I read this bill, which is pretty far reaching, and which contains many things which are a little difficult to understand, it is very loosely constructed in many respects, by providing for the Federal Housing Authority to have the last word. I am fearful that you, the city of Detroit, and others who would benefit by this bill, would be subjected to a good deal of dictatorship.
Mr. EDWARDS. If we ever get a housing commission director who is subservient to the Federal Government to the extent that he does not properly represent local interests, we will get rid of him. He has no business in local government, in my estimation.
Mr. BANTA. Well, you may be right.
Mr. SMITH. You seem to indicate by your testimony that the health of children of families living in these low-rent housing projects is now much better than it was when they first occupied those units. Did you make that statement?
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, sir. I think that that is definitely true. Mr. SMITH. Do you keep vital statistics in the city of Detroit? Mr. EDWARDS. We do. Mr. SMITH. Do you do that through the board of health? Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, sir. Mr. Smith. Then why could you not check directly and determine whether what you state is or is not a fact?
Mr. EDWARDS. I will give you the problem we ran up against in trying to set up just that survey.
I wanted to be able to do it because I wanted to be able to come down here some time—although this was a matter of 6 or 8 years ago when I was interested in trying to set up such a survey-and say statistically that we could prove what I am completely convinced of from personal observation.
These are the variables: In the first place, in order to determine whether a group of people who went into that project are improved in health as a result of their residence there, you have to have a set of controls, you ave to have a set of identical people staying outside the project, in the slums, whom you can observe in their health habits just as carefully as you observe those who are in the project.
You have to be able to keep them on a level economically. How are you going to do that? There is no way by which you would restrain the person from getting more money, if he could-no way that you would want to stop a family's progress in life. You cannot treat them like guinea pigs. They are human, and, as a consequence, as far as economic controls are concerned, you simply could not set up any.
You had to have equal medical treatment. Well, there again you cannot restrain one party from calling a doctor when his child is sick because another party does not call a doctor when his child is suffering from the same thing.
All of these things would be essential to really scientifically setting up the type of survey which I said I wish we could have gotten established and which you are talking about now.
Mr. Smith. You cleared out slums, did you, in order to find a place to locate these housing projects!
Mr. EDWARDS. Two of our projects were slum-clearance projects.
Mr. SMITH. Would you furnish this committee with the names and the previous address of persons living now in your so-called low-rent houses?
Mr. EDWARDS. Could we, did you say?
Mr. EDWARDS. About 1,500 names, I would think, from one project. Perhaps that is a little high. Maybe 1.200.
Mr. Smith. You have a total of 5,000 public-housing units now, do
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, sir. Not all of them are slum clearance, however.
Mr. SMITH. I thought you had 5,000 low-rent housing units.
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, I think roughly 5,000 permanent low-rent publichousing units, but not all of them were slum clearance in the sense that you actually moved into a densely occupied area and cleared the slums and rebuilt the housing on the site. I assume that is what you are talking about.
Mr Smith. I am talking about all of the projects that are classified as lew-rent housing projects under the United States Blousing Act. Could you furnish this committee with the names of the families now living in these dwelling units and their addresses previous to moving into these units?
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, I think that could be done, Mr. Smith. I think you would find that it was a rather voluminous job, but if the committee wishes to have that information we will certainly get it for you.
Mr. Suiti. I would like to have that information.
You have set up standards here with respect to statistics for comparing the state of health of children before they moved into these projects and after they moved into these projects. You mentioned some things that I do not think are exactly apropos. It seems to me that your board of health should be able to give you a pretty good picture of what the facts really are.
Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Smith, I can tell you what our board of health said about public housing; I can tell you what our police say about it; I can tell you what our fire department says about it. But, again, these are not scientifically controlled surveys and I do not wish to present them to you on that basis.
I think we can find—and we will be glad to send them as evidence to the committee-letters from these three departments relative to our public-housing projects.
The police department says that juvenile delinquency in them is at a much lower figure than in surrounding areas.
The board of health will testify that the health conditions in them are in much better state than in the surrounding areas, and the fire department will testify that there is just no comparison between fire hazards there and fire hazards in surrounding areas.
Mr. Smith. That still does not answer the question as to whether the children living in these projects are healthier now than they were previous to moving into them.
Mr. EDWARDS. You appreciate that I cannot answer that question statistically, and I started my statement by saying that we had been defeated in an effort to set up a carefully controlled statistical survey on that subject.
Mr. Smith. Then that would require many, many years before such a determination could be made—not just 10 years, but probably 50 or 75 or 100 years.
Mr. EDWARDS. Oh, no; I do not believe so, Mr. Smith. I think 10 years is ample time. The trouble with the statistical survey is that you simply cannot control human beings the way you can mice, or rabbits, or something of that nature. I think, however, that personal observations are a sound basis for testifying, and I am testifying from personal observation.
I assure you that many other people who have had contacts with these projects have exactly the same sort of a reaction. Every housing manager I have ever talked with has commented on the same thing—the fact that the kids, when they come in there, are measley, scrawny, and sickly, and when they have been there for a year or two they end up scampering around, participating in the normal activities which we think every American boy and girl ought to participate in.
Mr. SMITH. The reason I said over a long period of time is because more must be taken into consideration than the mere building of these houses. We are building up a Federal debt here. We are building up inflation. We are adding burdens-heavy burdens—upon the backs of our people in this country. This housing question is not something that you can isolate and determine its economic consequence by itself. You will agree with that, will you not?
Mr. EDWARDS. I agree that there are certainly other factors that enter into the health picture, but I really believe, Mr. Smith, that you can isolate the housing problem to this extent: I believe that most urban dwellers in he United States regard housing as the No. 1 domestic problem of the Nation. I think that is true in Detroit. I am sure it is equally true in other cities, and, as a consequence, I think that it warrants a priority on the calendar of Congress, such as has been suggested, in consideration of this bill.
Mr. SMITH. This is only a part of an immense program of subsidization. Where does this money come from?
Mr. EDWARDS. It comes from the great American taxpayer, Mr. Smith-the people, you, I, and everybody else.
Mr. SMITII. That includes all the people.
Mr. Edwards. They are paying some taxes, but not directly in every instance.
Mr. SMITH. Not directly, but
Mr. EDWARDS. I think the congressional exemptions under the recent tax bill have eliminated some people from paying Federal income taxes.
Mr. Smith. I know, but generally speaking everybody pays taxes. Mr. EDWARDS. They pay taxes in hidden form, certainly.
Mr. Smith. Certainly. Has it ever happened, in times past, that taxes have become so burdensome that the poor people could no longer bear them? Wage earners pay 68 to 70 percent, regardless of upon whom they are levied. Do you realize that?
Mr. EDWARDS. I would not be prepared to testify as to the percentage, although I am certainly aware of the fact that the common people of the country are the ones who pay
the taxes. Mr. Smith. Always? Mr. EDWARDS. Why, certainly.
Mr. Smith. No matter upon whom they are levied; is it not true that the tax burden is already very great! Up to 30 and 35 percent of income and some have estimated that it is even as high as 40 percent. How much more can the average person pay?
Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Smith, it is my opinion that the tax burden that is contemplated here is well within the means of America to stand. As a matter of fact, I do not think we can afford to be without the things that are provided by this bill. The proportionate representation of tax burden represented in this bill, as compared to those things that we have been paying for to defend this Nation, makes it look almost insignificant.
I appreciate the immense cost that is involved in this if it stands as a single item. But housing contributions are not the things that have accounted for our debt. The debt is largely a war debt, and I think everybody in the Nation is perfectly willing to pay that because without it we would not have the freedom which we cherish and hope to maintain forever.
Mr. SMITH. What do you think about the high cost of living? Do you think it is too high?
Mr. EDWARDS. I certainly do.
Mr. EDWARDS. If you ask me what percentage of it is attributable to the
war, I think a great amount of it is attributable to that. Mr. SMITH. All right, call it war. Nevertheless, the taxes have got to be paid.
Mr. EDWARDS. Certainly. Mr. Smith. Then the high cost of living is due to the war; is that the idea ?
Mr. EDWARDS. I do not think that is exclusively true, Mr. Smith. I think it is a major contributing factor. I think there are some other things, too.
Mr. Smith. Well, you say the high taxes are caused by the war.
Mr. EDWARDS. Well, I am afraid we might get into another discussion which is a little far afield, but I am personally of the opinion that one of the reasons why we have inflation is because Congress ended price controls too soon and too abruptly.
Mr. Smith. Well, of course you believe in a controlled economy.
Mr. EDWARDS. No, sir. I believe, however, that it would have been much wiser to have released controls as demand and supply were equated, rather than releasing them when profit taking was just at its height.
I do not know how it is in other fields, but the release of price controls on automobiles has meant
The CHAIRMAN. If you will pardon me, is Chester Bowles on the executive committee of Americans for Democratic Action?