SEPTEMBER 7, 1944
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—I have been getting many letters lately about the question of housing for service people stationed in different parts of the country. Workers are somewhat better taken care of, since there is defense housing which is sometimes available to them. But few seem to have considered the needs of men on limited service, who want their families with them, or of men who will soon be going overseas and who also want their families with them.
I know there is much to be said against families being near their men in camp. Nevertheless it seems to me quite a human thing for people who love each other to try to be together when they know that a long separation faces them in the near future. It might therefore be wise to face conditions as they are.
In addition to this difficulty, I have recently had an entirely new housing problem presented to me. It is one to which I have given little thought, and I am going to quote from a letter describing this condition:
"I really wanted to write you about the apartment situation for single people. All federal housing projects seem to make provision only for families. While this is good social planning, we single people pay heavy taxes, are no drag on the community and are at present forced to exist in furnished rooms. I have been looking for a two-room apartment for $35 off the beaten track in the low rent districts, and have been unable to find anything except old-law tenements without heat. You may be familiar with the rents charged in your own neighborhood in Greenwich Village. This has been the subject for amusing motion pictures, but it's time people took it seriously."
To a great many people, I suppose, this whole housing question seems futile to consider at the present time because, they feel, the war will soon be over and then what use will all these houses be? Yet the housing question is very much tied up with the development of industry after the war. If we maintain full employment wherever we have a big industrial installation, we will need to have housing after the war just as much as we do now. To be sure, much of our future housing should be done on a much more permanent basis, and for the most part by private enterprise if wages are sufficiently high for workers to pay a reasonable sum in rent.
Before this permanent building can go forward, however, financing, planning and the procuring of materials must be accomplished, as well as the reconversion and re-tooling which will keep every plant going at full production. If factories are to keep on going, temporary housing may easily be extremely important for the first few years, even if it all is scrapped later on. So it seems to me that the present needs should be faced and solved, and not simply set aside in the hope that the future will not make the same demands as the present.