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have not received the construction appropriation anywhere near an amount necessary to build up that deficiency.
Extensive and early training is required to produce men competent to maintain and operate the highly technical Air Force equipment. To subject these men and their families to the the present housing conditions means that:
(1) they get out and return to civilian pursuits where they can live under respectable conditions;
(2) they must separate themselves from their families;
(3) they must live with their families under deplorable conditions in trailer camps, shacks, single rooms, and other inadequate accommodations, usually paying exorbitant prices in addition. Among the 40 percent who go back to civilian life, where their expensive training pays off with good jobs, are some of our best men. The budget must then bear the high cost of the elaborate training required by their replacements. This is not only uneconomical, it is also most inefficient.
This situation applies equally to officers and airmen, except that officers naturally can afford somewhat higher prices than can the airmen. However, many of our young officers, particularly at our more isolated bases, are living under substandard conditions with a consequent loss of morale, efficiency, and interest.
The most immediate solution to the problem is low-cost rental housing erected by private enterpirse. The private investor, however, is understandably reluctant to erect costly housing projects specifically for Service personnel, because he naturally fears loss through the sudden closing down or reduction of the Military Establishment which his project was built to service. This is particularly true at our more isolated bases, where our needs are most urgent. It is the view of the Air Force that this legislation provides an immediate means of removing this difficulty. We are convinced that this bill would be of the greatest assistance in providing our personnel with suitable dwellings which they can afford to live in. I do not know of any single practicable measure which, in my judgment, would do more to increase immediately the efficiency of your Air Force, including a very substantial increase in the amount of national defense procured per Air Force dollar expended.
We want to be entirely frank with the committee. We are wholeheartedly in favor of this legislation. However, it will not entirely solve our housing problem. We will continue to pursue our program for permanent quarters, but we feel that this bill is a substantial step toward meeting this existing requirement.
Mr. Brown. You state many are unable to pay the rent required by private enterprise?
Mr. ZUCKERT. They are not able to pay the rents which they are being charged in out-of-the-way places. Mr. Symington mentioned a couple of instances. We find many who try to move their families to their stations with them are being asked to pay rents far beyond their means for quarters which are really not worth the rent.
Mr. Brown. High rent is due to scarcity of places to live?
Mr. ZUCKERT. That is right. The law of supply and demand sets in.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you like private enterprise to build these homes?
Mr. ZUCKERT. Yes; we have had a lot of interest on the part of private enterprise in helping us with our program. They want to be able to participate in the same kind of program as they are for housing for civilians.
Mr. BROWN. You cannot get help from the Federal Housing Administration?
Mr. ZUCKERT. We have been unable to get substantial help under the present program. The private investors and the Federal Housing Administration are reluctant to guarantee it where it is a military establishment which is going to be serviced.
Mr. BUCHANAN. What is going to happen when the military establishments move out of the area?
Mr. ZUCKERT. Well, we will not put this housing in at all our bases. It will not be a complete solution to our problem. The bases which are a continuing part of our program are the ones we will ask FHA to guarantee.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Are there communities which will take this housing up in case of a move? Mr. ZUCKERT. In some cases, yes; in some cases, no. Mr. BUCHANAN. In most cases, no?
Mr. ZUCKERT. If it were not for the Military Establishment being in some places, a community would hardly exist.
Mr. BUCHANAN. How long do you think the Military Establishment will stay there, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
Mr. ZUCKERT. We are contemplating asking for FH.A guaranties only in those bases which we regard as the permanent part of our establishment.
Mr. BUCHANAN. A quick look at the map indicates that the communities are rather small. I doubt whether there are any populations which can absorb it.
Mr. ZUCKERT. That is true. We could not ask for this kind of help for those bases which we could not say were a continuing part of the Air Force.
The CHAIRMAN. You feel with this stimulation, it will induce private enterprise to build these buildings?
Mr. ZUCKERT. Mr. Chairman, we do believe that. We believe it because of the number of builders representing private enterprise who have contacted us and have been interested on this basis. They have been unable to help us at present because they cannot get the FHA guaranty.
The CHAIRMAN. They cannot get any of this insurance now?
Mr. ZUCKERT. They have not been able to in any case about which I know.
The CHAIRMAN. Any further questions?
Mr. DEANE. Mr. Zuckert, you indicated to Mr. Buchanan you followed a selective processing in determining these particular bases where the housing is to be erected. Have you contemplated where they are or where they would be?
Mr. ZUCKERT. We have not made up our list of permanent bases or bases which we would consider permanent.
Mr. DEANE. This bill gives you the right to enter into lease agreements with private groups which would encourage them to go into these particular areas and construct housing, does it not?
Mr. ZUCKERT. That is right.
Mr. DEANE. There is one particular point in the legislation about which I am. concerned. I think the original opinion of Mr. Symington was to insure these loans up to 95 percent.
Mr. ZUCKERT. Yes, sir.
Mr. DEANE. The present bill we are considering is up to 90 percent. Why did you change your views?
Mr. ZUCKERT. Let me say this: We are not the experts on what will stimulate private enterprise to participate, whether they need a 90 percent guaranty. Mr. Foley and Mr. Richards, who know the business, tell us 90 percent will be sufficient. They said it can be done on 90 percent.
Mr. DEANE. What is it going to cost to build these units, and for what will they rent?
Mr. ZUCKERT. We have talked, as I said, Mr. Deane, to builders, who are the people who want to participate in these enterprises. We have given them. scales of rent. The enlisted man cannot pay what the officer can. You will need some higher rents in there in order to finance the project. We will be able to get people interested to put their money in these projects on a sound basis which will give a great majority of these to the airmen and the rents they can pay.
Mr. DEANE. Do you have in mind a figure?
Mr. ZUCKERT. It was changed in the Senate to 40 years, Mr. Deane.
Mr. DEANE. We have up at the House today the military pay bill. One of the objections we hear is that only men of higher rank are getting the breaks; men down in the ranks are not. I am wondering if this bill now is going to be more or less limited to the ranking officers of the various armed services.
Mr. ZUCKERT. I can assure you, Mr. Deane—the Bureau of the Budget asked us the same question—that the purpose of this bill is to take care principally of the noncommissioned officers in the first three grades who are our technical specialists, who are the fellows we have to keep if we are going to have an efficient Air Force.
Mr. DEANE. To what extent would the military service and Housing Administrator advise in the administering of this property?
Mr. ZUCKERT. The FHA drew up the regulations under the bill. I think they can assure you we have been in pretty constant contact with them.
Mr. DEANE. Which branch of the service is most in need?
Mr. ZUCKERT. I would probably say the Air Force. I do not know the Army and Navy picture well enough to say. I know our picture is pretty terrible.
Mr. DEANE. Thank you.
Mr. O'HARA. I am very much interested in the extension of democracy without impairment of efficiency. The Secretary mentioned priority to be given to junior officers and noncommissioned officers. I think I understand what he meant by that. Is there any chance that in the operation of that policy, democracy in the armed services would be further minimized?
Mr. ZUCKERT. The test of cooking is in the eating. I can assure you it is our intention to further the democracy. Each one of these bases that we have is located, naturally, in a congressional district. I know that the Congressmen in each of the districts are in general very familiar with what is happening at those bases.
All I can say is, if we do not administer our part of this the way we should, it is my bet we will be hearing from the Congressmen very soon. Our purpose is to administer this act for a more efficient Air Force for noncommissioned officers and junior officers. Therefore, I should say the purpose of this is to strengthen the democracy which you have in mind.
Mr. O'HARA. Why should the priority be given the junior officers and noncommissioned officers over the buck privates?
Mr. ZUCKERT. Our legal obligation to provide housing is to the first three grades and the junior officers. The effect will be to loosen the housing picture up all along the line. Our situation is bad because our noncommissioned officers in the first three grades are the ones who are married and have families. The fellows in the lower grades are less likely to be married and have families. We are interested in the furtherance of the Air Force families' interest.
Mr. O'HARA. Regardless of whether they are enlisted men junior officers?
Mr. ZUCKERT. Yes.
Mr. O'HARA. The test is whether they are married and require housing?
Mr. ZUCKERT. That is right. We are interested in building up the family because we know that contented families living together in a normal life is the way we can get the best American Air Force.
Mr. O'HARA. Can private industry, if this bill were enacted, construct homes that could be rented to privates within their means to rent?
Mr. ZUCKERT. You mean lower-cost housing?
Mr. ZUCKERT. When I say we are trying to take care of the first three grades. I do not mean anyone is going to be excluded. The question is: Economically, what can you do in the way of a housing development that can still rate an FHA guaranty? Our contemplation is that our rents will be about $55 a month.
Mr. O'HARA. That is within the means of the enlisted man to pay? Mr. ZUCKERT. Yes.
Mr. O'HARA. Is it not a noncommissioned officer classification? I mean those able to pay $55 a month rent.
Mr. ZUCKERT. Mr. Donaldson of my office says in many cases they are paying more than that now.
Mr. O'HARA. I am entirely friendly with your bill. I think I understand your problem, but I want to make clear on the record there is no discrimination against the enlisted man.
Mr. ZUCKERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. MERLE VAN METRE, UNITED STATES
NAVY, ASSISTANT CHIEF, HOME BASE SECTION, OFFICE OF CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
Captain VAN METRE. My name is Capt. Merle Van Metre Assistant Chief, Home Base Section, Office of Chief of Naval Operations.
As in the case of the Army and the Air Force, the lack of adequate housing is one of the most important factors presently affecting morale and reenlistments of naval personnel. This is forcibly brought to the attention of the Navy Department daily by numerous letters, telephone calls, and personal visits of naval personnel and their dependents, calling attention to the hardships they are forced to endure due to the lack of adequate housing.
The Navy Department must, in the absence of appropriations for construction, support every available course of action to provide housing for its married personnel.
A conservative estimate of housing units needed to fulfill the total requirements for shore-based personnel who are eligible for housing in accordance with the Navy's housing policy is 44,000. In addition, it is estimated that approximately 14,000 of the 39,842 temporary low-cost rental units presently controlled by the Navy and consisting: of defense housing, Homoja (Quonset huts) and trailer units, substandard as to size and suitability of facilities and conveniences, which are in extremely poor maintenance status, should be replaced within the near future by permanent housing of standard size with modern facilities. These estimated housing needs do not include the requirements for the naval personnel attached to mobile fleet units whose families find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain adequate housing in the vicinity of the home ports on which the fleet units are based.
The efforts of the Navy Department in the past to ir terest private builders in the construction of rental housing in the vicinity of naval installations have met with little success, since the builders hesitate to take the risk involved in constructing housing primarily to serve naval personnel.
The Navy Department is in full accord with the plan to encourage construction of rental housing at or in areas adjacent to military and naval installations and considers that every effort should be made to provide comfortable and livable houses for the personnel of the armed services. The housing situation is a national problem and concerted' action by the military, private interests, and the Congress is urgently needed.
While legislation of this type will not, in itself, serve as an answer to all of the Navy's housing problems, it will greatly alleviate our critical situation. I want to assure you that the Navy appreciates the committee's interest in our problem.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think under the provisions of this bill, adequate housing can be obtained from private enterprise?
Captain VAN METRE. Yes, sir; I think it can,