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the aid of the Rules Committee-you were quoted by your former Republican colleagues on the floor as being against public housing. We, on our side, believe you meant exactly what you said, and the President meant exactly what he said, and we voted our faith in you and in the President, and we were a little surprised and disappointed that some of our Republican colleagues didn't put the same faith in you and in the President that we did, and we are glad that you did prove up, and that the President did, too.
Mr. ÓAKMAN. Would Mr. O'Hara yield?
Mr. O'HARA. I will be delighted.
Mr. OAKMAN. One of the things on public housing is that there are two schools of thought. You cannot speak of public housing as just public housing, period. Public housing, I believe, is more often than not associated with the large cities, large communities. The public housing theory was sold to the Congress back about 1937 on the basis that it would do two things: It would clear out the slums in the big cities, which were in a financial straight-jacket and could not afford to do it themselves, and that it would also provide decent housing-what at that time was referred to as low-cost housingwhich we found later was not-and that by and large this philosophy has been acceptable to the large cities.
But, then, there came a new school of thought, and that was to abandon the slums and leave them there because we were in wars, or we were in high-cost periods, or we were in this or that or the other thing, and it was not the proper time to attack the slums. That is what the public housing people came out and told us, and they argued against us doing anything about our slums. But they did come up with a big program to ring the city, taking every large vacant, virgin piece of property and building public housing on the virgin land that would have otherwise been built up in a few years with private homes.
And what did they do to the big cities? They froze their tax base at a very low figure, at a fraction of what the tax base would have been had that same property been developed with private homes, paying full taxes.
I think this is one of your big conflicts, Mr. O'Hara, in the matter of public housing. A lot of people say "I am opposed to public housing." But they are not opposed to slum clearance and redevelopment, which was the original thesis under which it was sold to this Congress, or previous Congresses.
Mr. O'HARA. I think the gentleman is correct. There is a difference of opinion as to the methods of procedures, but we are agreed that we must clear our slums.
Mr. OAKMAN. I go along with that.
Mr. O'HARA. We are agreed on that. And it is upon that that I would like to pursue my inquiry with Mr. Cole.
As I understand from your statement, Mr. Cole, it will probably be some time before your new system of slum clearance can become operative. Do you anticipate it may require some additional enabling legislation?
Mr. COLE. Some of the newer functions; yes, sir.
Mr. O'HARA. But in order that there shall be no delay, and I think you emphasized that, programs that are now under way in the cities like Chicago, will not be interfered with.
Mr. COLE. That is right.
Mr. HAYS. What about cities that are just in the process of getting started, and then were halted because of lack of funds? Is there any prospect that those can be renewed?
Mr. COLE. Are you talking about public housing, Mr. Hays?
Mr. OAKMAN. Public housing.
Mr. HAYS. Urban redevelopment and slum clearance.
Mr. COLE. Well, they are two different programs.
Mr. HAYS. Well, there are some cities that have a combined program for clearing slums and building public housing.
Mr. COLE. They do not combine the two programs.
May I say this: Public housing can eliminate slums and place the public housing unit upon the ground from which the slum was eliminated.
Mr. HAYS. That is what I am thinking about.
Mr. COLE. Yes, sir.
Now, returning to your question, it will depend upon the action of this Congress with respect to the number of units which we have requested, and those cities which are ready to go ahead with their plans, depending upon their condition, will have their projects approved or not approved. And that is about as far as I can go.
Mr. HAYS. This one I am thinking about has been approved, and then it was halted because of lack of funds. Of course, I think it might be a good idea to give some of it to some cities that have not had any at all, rather than concentrate it all in cities which have had a great deal of public housing done.
Mr. COLE. I think you have a real problem, a real question. You see, the limitation was placed upon the number of houses that could be started, and then in the pipeline were thousands of others pressing against it.
Some of those, in my judgment, are binding contracts, which must be complied with. There are others who have preliminary plans in various stages of completion.
Mr. Slusser, the new Public Housing Commissioner, is aware of the need to examine the area, the cities, under the new program, outside of those where we are bound legally. He is aware of that.
Mr. HAYS. Thank you.
Mr. O'HARA. Mr. Cole, what is your own attitude with regard to public housing?
Mr. COLE. My own attitude toward public housing is expressed in the statement. I think, Mr. O'Hara, that when the Federal Government proposes a plan to eliminate slums, either by by slum clearance programs or by rehabilitation, or the enforcement of occupany codesthe overcrowding code, for instance, where we go into an area and through the use of the tools of the Federal Government we set up such a program, it is my judgment that the Federal Government has a responsibility to help those people in those areas who are not able to help themselves.
I think it is a social problem that we must face, frankly. You can either face it or walk away from it. I do not think we can walk away from it. There are people in those slums who cannot find a place to live by reason of their low-income, and I mean low income. Those
people, then, are removed from their homes by action implemented by the Federal Government. Therefore, it is my judgment that in those areas we have a responsibility to help them obtain homes.
I do not see, in the present laws, sufficient assistance for those people. I do not recognize that the only way in which you can rehouse people cleared by slums is through public housing, and I have felt in the past that many people who supported public housing said that that was the only way that you could rehouse people in the slum areas. I do not agree with that. I think many people living in the slum areas-my judgment is half the people living in the slum areas can find decent housing if they can pay for it, in low-priced housing. But there are a great number of those people who cannot do so.
Therefore, I am recommending that while we are testing this program, while we are attempting to do it through other means, I am not willing to say that we just walk away from the problem and forget it.
Mr. O'HARA. In the 81st Congress you disagreed with the late Senator Taft in the matter of public housing. In your present high position you have had a year's close experience in this field. After this intimate contact with the problem would you say that your conclusions are closer to those of Senator Taft than they were before you had this year's experience in the field?
Mr. COLE. I do not know whether you are enjoying the probing of my mind and conscience or not
Mr. O'HARA. No, I do not mean to do that.
but I think it is a proper question. I really think it is a proper question.
But I want to say, Mr. O'Hara, I have not changed my opinion regarding the objections which I have had to public housing. Some of those objections are these: I am not in favor of socialized housing, I mean I am not in favor of the Government building and subsidizing housing for people who can afford to own their houses and to rent their houses, or people who have an opportunity to acquire housing. I am not in favor of that.
I felt originally that practically everybody who was in favor of public housing wanted that type of program as it was presented to me on this committee. I know now there are many sincere people who believe in public housing who object to socialized public housing or socialized housing as much as I do. That is one difference in what I have learned since I have been sitting in this chair as Administrator as against sitting in that chair as a Member of Congress.
But let me follow through. I am still just as opposed to a program of public housing which would house a great segment of our population in publicly owned subsidized homes, irrespective of the fact that they have been forced out of slum areas, irrespective of their need, irrespective of the social impact and the social need. That was practically my greatest objection.
I have had other objections, and still have other objections, to a program which would cause a great segment of our people, irrespective of need, to be housed in Government-owned houses, whether it is city-owned or federally owned houses.
Mr. O'HARA. Sometimes I think, Mr. Cole, that it is all a matter of vocabulary.
Mr. COLE. I do not agree.
Mr. O'HARA. There was so much in what you said that was a beautiful picture, and I thought you were doing it not only eloquently but with sincerity. However, it was largely a use of pretty words to draw a pretty picture of a dream that you hoped would come true. Sometimes we speak of socialized housing, socialized medicine. We are merely reaching out to get a disagreeable term, to arouse a prejudice against something which, if given a beautiful label, would be approved. Don't you think we do too much of that?
Mr. COLE. Well, I will agree that we sometimes use terms when we should use ideas, and that is the reason I try to refrain from talking about socialized housing. All I am saying it this: The thing that I have objected to is the movement which I have felt was strong on the part of many people, which would accomplish the objective of housing a great segment of our people, irrespective of need, in publicly owned houses. I will put it that way. That is what I object to.
Mr. O'HARA. And none of us want that.
Mr. COLE. No.
Mr. O'HARA. We want to take care of the people. We have got to furnish decent housing to all of our people. Some of them cannot afford to pay for it. We appreciate that. We do not want public housing to exceed the legitimate demand for it. That is where we are in agreement.
I do not want to take up too much time. Briefly, how will your program of slum clearance operate in Chicago under your plan?
Mr. COLE. We feel that Chicago is doing a very good job, and is quite ready for this program.
I do not mean to say to you that I think it has been solved in Chicago any more than it has been solved in any of the other great cities, but I have the impression, and I am sure Mr. Follin has a better idea than I, I have the impression that Chicago is making very fine progress, vigorous progress, towards fitting their ideas into this program. Mr. Follin, I would like you to comment on that.
Mr. FOLLIN. Mr. O'Hara, Illinois is one of the very few States in the Union which has passed legislation expressly for the purpose of encouraging conservation and rehabilitation, and that program is being applied in Chicago to the point where I think they could get a very early start under this broadened program.
Mr. O'HARA. That is, you feel that in Illinois there is at the present time sufficient enabling legislation?
Mr. FOLLIN. Yes, sir.
Mr. O'HARA. That being so, how would you immediately apply this to the city of Chicago, if this bill becomes the law? What will be done in Chicago?
Mr. FOLLIN. The city, of course, would apply it itself, you understand.
Mr. O'HARA. Yes, sir; I appreciate that. But how?
Mr. FOLLIN. They are working out their own local means of doing it. They are setting up a conservation commission, under that law. Just how that is going to be tied in to the other agency is now being determined, and they will simply outline areas and draw plans for rehabilitation of the properties, and for the upgrading of the neighborhoods, and those plans, if they care to put them through us, and
ask us for our assistance, would receive our financial assistance, in the planning and in the carrying out of the program, which would involve, as Mr. Cole has so well expressed today, considerable public improvements, which are done for the purpose of stabilizing the neighborhoods and keeping permanent the rehabilitation to the properties.
In other words, making it a sound neighborhood and a sound investment and well worth the money which would go into the rehabilitation.
Mr. O'HARA. I presume that both you and Mr. Cole, unquestionably, read the newspaper articles in the Chicago Daily News on the slum problem in Chicago?
Mr. FOLLIN. Yes, sir; we did, sir.
Mr. O'HARA. An illuminating series of articles, I thought.
Mr. FOLLIN. Very illuminating.
Mr. O'HARA. Will the legislation which you are proposing be helpful in the city of Chicago in meeting the problems raised in the series of editorial articles in the Chicago Daily News?
Mr. FOLLIN. I should certainly think so.
Mr. COLE. We are quite firm in our belief that it will do that very thing. It will assist very materially.
Mr. O'HARA. Thank you very much.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Brown.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. Follin, on page 6 of your statement, at the bottom of the page, in the last paragraph, you state:
Communities necessarily will have to confine themselves only to such urban renewed activities authorized under State and local laws. Generally, such activities may include slum-clearance and urban-redevelopment activities, now authorized in about two-thirds of the States
would it be too much trouble to name those States or supply the record with same?
Mr. FOLLIN. We could supply those for the record; yes, sir. Unfortunately, Georgia is not among those States, we regret to say, and the enactment that was made by the Georgia Legislature was declared unconstitutional in a test suit, and so the projects which had been initiated in Georgia had to be suspended until the constitutional deficiency was corrected.
Mr. FITZPATRICK. I should point out that Georgia is on the way back in. The legislature at its recent session enacted a bill which will put before the electorate, in November, the constitutional amendment that would bring your urban redevelopment within the authority of the constitution.
Mr. BROWN. I am glad to hear that.
(Data requested by Mr. Brown is as follows:)
The following 32 States and 4 Territories, and the District of Columbia have legislation specifically authorizing slum clearance and urban redevelopment projects: