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ficient number of adequate public quarters to house all military personnel. This is also a long-range requirement, the fulfillment of which is of necessity a lengthy process. But the problem is immediate and pressing. This legislation would operate, in the shortest possible time, to provide an invaluable aid in easing this grave difficulty.
This plan has the approval of the entire National Military Establishment. The Federal Housing Administration will suggest certain technical amendments and the Bureau of the Budget has advised that the objectives of this legislation with the proposed amendments should be considered in accord with the program of the President.
Senator CAIN. Three brief questions, sir.
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, sir.
Senator CAIN. What form of contract do you let for housing-construction purposes outside of the country, for example, in Alaska and Guam? Are they cost-plus contracts?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Senator, I am weak on that, because, as I say, the construction for the Air Force is not handled by the Air Force. Senator CAIN. Through the United States Army engineers?
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is correct.
Senator CAIN. I will ask that question of one of the technicians who is to come.
May I ask if in the past your housing requirements have been met through an appropriation?
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is correct, sir.
Senator CAIN. So far as I know, this is the first discussion we have had on the Military Establishments' housing program before this committee, which generally is charged with considering housing
Secretary SYMINGTON. Of course, when you say "met," we have had totally inadequate housing.
Senator CAIN. Oh, yes, but I mean that has been your approach to the problem? Through the Appropriations Committee, not through Banking and Currency?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes. Through this present bill, it appears we may solve something which is costing the American taxpayers tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars through failure of reenlistment.
Senator CAIN. We certainly hope so.
Secretary SYMINGTON. There is no question about it. Take a place where the reenlistment is 90 percent because they have adequate housing and are happy, and then at other commands other boys reenlist only on a basis of 7 percent. We go to them and say, "Why do you not come back to the Air Force?" They reply, "Because my wife and children will not take this type of living in such housing."
So, we know this bill will improve that, if we can pass it, because then we can get decent housing to keep people who are skilled.
Senator CAIN. I think you will find every encouragement on both sides of this table.
Secretary SYMINGTON. Thank you, sir.
Senator CAIN. My last question, sir. Recently when we considered some legislation for Alaska, testimony seems to have developed that much of what I would refer to as over-priced housing in Alaska has been built in the last several years for family accommodations. Now, that indicates to me, without knowing, that much of this housing
must be in those portions of Alaska where housing will be built if it is built under the terms of our proposed legislation, and much of this housing was not, in fact, situated in your highly inaccessible areas, because it seems to me that you would not be taking a wife and children to the very outposts in Alaska.
Secretary SYMINGTON. Well, take officers who go to Alaska for 3 years. Naturally, the more they can have their families with them the better off they would be.
Senator CAIN. Yes.
Secretary SYMINGTON. I am not an expert on Alaska, and this bill is not
Senator CAIN. I am not either.
Secretary SYMINGTON. This bill is not primarily for Alaska. But I will read the record carefully and get the answer to this question. (The following was later submitted for the record:)
As to the possibility of obtaining adequate quarters in the Alaskan area under present FHA mortgage insurance limitations the comparison was drawn with recent engineer estimates for 1,080 square feet accommodations accepted by the Congress as adequate quarters for noncommissioned officers. The unit being discussed by private sponsors would contain approximately 600 square feet and consist of two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and bath. While it can be seen that this fails to meet the standards established by the Congress, such units would be a great improvement over the majority of existing rental dwellings available.
Alaskan housing constructed under the provisions of S. 1184 and the Alaskan housing bill would not completely solve the problem of Alaskan housing or be as helpful as the Military Establishment could desire. However, it is believed some relief woud be given in isolated instances such as at Fort Richardson. The Pacific Alaska Development Corporation is negotiating for the construction of a substantial number of units at that location with FHA insured mortgages on land which the Military Establishment would lease to the corporation. Even though S. 1184 will not provide a complete solution to the Alaskan housing problem, it unodubtedly can alleviate it in certain cases and therefore aid in the over-all defense structure of this strategic area. While the primary purpose of S. 1184 is not to provide housing in the Alaskan area, it is believed that in certain instances it could be advantageously used to secure the erection of badly needed dwelling units.
Senator CAIN. Thank you. Would you be under the impression that the proposed legislation would result in some new construction for Ladd Field?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I would guess "no" on the basis of the prices. in this bill; we would probably not get new construction for Ladd Field under this bill.
Senator CAIN. If this testimony is correct, in 1947 32 family quarters for noncommissioned officers were constructed at Ladd Field on an average cost of $56,200 per unit.
Secretary SYMINGTON. I do not see how you could get, under this bill, with a limiting figure of $9,000 or $8,100, a $56,000 house.
Senator CAIN. Of course you could not. We would like to think we could get some houses for $12,000 or thereabouts rather than the $56,000 which it is said have been built.
Secretary SYMINGTON. There is one thing we could do. We could always move out of Alaska and thereby save such expensive housing. Senator CAIN. I do not think that is the point, Mr. Secretary. It is to determine whether or not the bill before us will result in the good benefits that you are anticipating. If it will not, the figures ought to
be higher. Whatever those higher figures are, must they be $56,200 per unit?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I do not think you should take the exception to the rule and base the bill on the exception.
Senator CAPEHART. We might well amend the bill to permit a higher unit cost in Alaska.
Secretary SYMINGTON. You could do that, sir, or you could let us try to handle that in the military budget; whichever you thought most advisable. I think the bill itself is a good bill, and I would hate to see an extraordinary situation like Alaska get us involved again where we have to go back to all these Government agencies.
Senator CAPEHART. We love in the Congress to take the exception to prove the rule.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Secretary, you testified that this bill was excellent insofar as the United States is concerned. When I say "insofar as the United States is concerned," I mean to include Territories where the limits would have to be higher or perhaps the bill could not be used. Is that correct?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I mean in Alaska, and so on.
Secretary SYMINGTON. The Navy has the same problem in Guam and the Aleutian chain.
The CHAIRMAN. What I wanted to ask you was just two questions before you left. At the present time what are the rental allowances for commissioned officers?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Assistant Secretary Zuckert, would you answer that?
Mr. ZUCKERT. You want them for commissioned officers?
The CHAIRMAN. I would like them for commissioned officers and noncommissioned officers, and whether or not they include utilities. Mr. ZUCKERT. Well, the quarters allowances run for the enlisted, noncommissioned officers with dependents, which are the kind of people we are talking about, $37.50 per month for quarters.
The CHAIRMAN. Would this bill cover that?
Mr. ZUCKERT. This bill would not affect that. They would get their quarters allowance. They would get their $37.50.
The CHAIRMAN. And they would have to pay how much?
Mr. ZUCKERT. Well, sir, outside the bill, the way the thing works they would have the option of either taking their allotment or their quarters allowance. Now, if a man gets $50 for a wife, $30 for a first child, $20
The CHAIRMAN. I understand. But I want total amounts. I am leading up to something. Give me the total amounts. In other words, if these quarters were built and the commissioned officers moved into them, they would have a certain allowance; would they not?
Mr. ZUCKERT. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. They would pay that allownace to whomever was operating that project?
Mr. ZUCKERT. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. What would be the difference?
Mr. ZUCKERT. The first lieutenant, for example, gets $90 a month if he has had over 10 years' service
Secretary SYMINGTON. If I follow your question, I looked at a lot of housing projects, and in the lowest figure, like $37.50, no man can get a decent livable house near any base for $37.50.
The CHAIRMAN. What would he pay under this bill?
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Now, that is why I want to know. In other words, the allotments you would give for living quarters to lower-rank people. The officers, noncommissioned officers, and even the private with a family can get by with decent quarters in this bill for how much approximately?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I do not want to commit myself and find later that I said something to you that is wrong. Under the allowances, $37.50.
The CHAIRMAN. With a family?
Secretary SYMIHGTON. With a family, they have got a far better chance of doing it under this bill.
The CHAIRMAN. What would be the difference, approximately? Secretary SYMINGTON. I would not want to commit myself. I would rather come back and ask you to raise that allowance based on the cost of housing, if that became necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. But what would be the difference today?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Well, I think you could get a house
Secretary SYMINGTON. On the basis of $37.50.
The CHAIRMAN. Today?
Secretary SYMINGTON. You would build a house that would cost less than $8,100. This is the way I would figure it. For example, for $4,300 you can build out in Tucson; and you can retire, amortize on the basis of a man paying $27.50 for 20 years. On the basis of $6,900, you could not retire it in 20 years on the basis of $37.50. The CHAIRMAN. Well, under this law, you can build a house maybe for $4,000.
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. Maybe $5,000.
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is right.
build to the allowance.
In other words, you can
The CHAIRMAN. You can build to the allowance to where your people can get decent quarters in your opinion.
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is correct.
The CHAIRMAN. What are they paying in these slum areas where they are living today?
Secretary SYMINGTON. In Lowry Field in Denver I called on a sergeant. I just walked in on him and his wife. He was off duty. They had just been able to get quarters on the post. His allowance was around $37.50; and he had been forced to pay, downtown in Denver, $75 a month.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, he had paid twice his allowance to private real-estate agents, or whatever you want to call them? Secretary SYMINGTON. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. I have nothing but respect for some of them; some I have not. They were charging him twice as much in a slum area as he was allowed by the Government.
Secretary SYMINGTON. Well, it was not necessarily a slum area. It was a single room for which he was paying $75 a month. And, of couse, in doing that, he was raising the over-all cost to everybody in the city of Denver.
The CHAIRMAN. What about the worst examples? Are some worse than that?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Some are much worse than that. You see, the trouble is that on this basis the boy who goes into the Air Force automatically knows his life is going to be wrecked, because either his wife is going to refuse to live with him in such quarters or he is being forced, month by month, into bankruptcy.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you answer this if you possibly could? It is a sort of tough question. In your judgment, if this bill passes, and if you build these houses with variable amounts of money, ranging from $4,500 up to the maximum of $8,100, do you think that you would save as much as 30 percent for the personnel who are paying rentals? In other words, do you think that they would save at least 30 percent of their rental?
Secretary SYмINGTON. I think you would save a very large percentage.
Mr. ZUCKERT. I would not say 30 percent, but you would save a material percentage, and you would improve their conditions materially.
Senator CAPEHART. Suppose you save nothing but you made available good housing. That would be worth while, would it not?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes. May I say what this bill will do, Senator, and I am as sure of it as I am here this morning. It will save a lot of marriages and homes, and it will give a far better Air Force for less money, and a far better Army and Navy. I want to emphasize I am testifying for the three services.
Senator CAPEHART. I have always felt there should be good housing for the personnel.
Senator WHERRY. I will have to leave. I beg that we have somewhere in the record the statement that many, many individuals and firms have asked to testify, as well as trade associations, but the chairman well knows you have a limit as to the time involved.
The CHAIRMAN. I hope this suggestion meets with your approval. After the Secretary finishes, we will hear from Lieutenant Colonel Lapsley and Admiral Maher, and then we will recess until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock, because I have not as yet obtained unanimous consent to hold hearings while the Senate is in session. I would do this tomorrow: Have Mr. Foley here at 10 o'clock in the morning and remain in session until we finish.
Is that satisfactory?
(General assent from the committee members.)
Senator WHERRY. Thank you.
As you said, you would save a lot of marriages and homes. You would also save a lot of airplanes.
Secretary SYMINGTON. No doubt about that.
Senator WHERRY. Because you will keep the experienced men in the service.
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, sir. And, therefore, the Air Force and Navy would save a lot of lives.