JANUARY 25, 1944
NEW YORK, Monday—Last spring I called to my readers' attention a list of books which the National Conference of Christians and Jews published. Mr. Archibald MacLeish has written a foreword for this list, and I think many of the titles will be of interest to thoughtful people all over the country. The Midwest area office is at 203 North Wabash Ave., Chicago, Ill., and I know that office will gladly distribute this list to anyone who writes in.
While I was having my hair done the other morning, I read through a little volume called "The Return" by Margaret Rhodes Peattie. On the jacket it says this book is "a vision, a prophecy, a hope. It is the story of a great day, the day that every American is waiting for." There is joy and pathos in the book, but the delicate feeling for all people will be a help in understanding the changes that on that day, Victory Day, many of us will meet and will continue meeting long after it has come and gone.
The brief reference in one of the sketches to the old time civilian occupations which have been curtailed or have entirely disappeared during the war, is a renewed warning to all of us that every community must plan now for that day, and must not leave to chance the future of its returning soldiers. We must move from war production to peace production smoothly, and with as little time as possible for idleness in between.
I have also just seen Mr. Nathan Straus's book, "The Seven Myths of Housing." It is a clear and courageous exposition of the problems and solutions confronting us in housing as he sees them. I hope it will be widely read throughout the country.
There will be differences of opinion not only among real estate interests and private building interests, but among public housing people. Basically we know: one—that slums exist in rural and urban areas throughout the nation; two—that we have an expanding population, many of whom must have decent but inexpensive housing; three—that this can only be done for our lowest income groups by cutting all the normal costs which are included necessarily in private operations.
This war, like the last, has increased bad housing in spite of emergency defense building. There will be a demand for housing at the end of the war, and the field will be open for both public and private building. Public building can spur private industry to do a better job, and I do not think it needs to hamper in any way the developement of legitimate real estate operations and legitimate private construction. Housing is of vital interest because bad housing is responsible for so many of our other social problems.