AUGUST 21, 1952
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—It has come to my attention that a very serious situation will shortly arise unless the public as a whole wakes up to the fact that local action must be taken to prevent the possibility of the raising of rents in the near future.
Congress decided last June to end the program of rent control in normal areas after September 30, except where local government bodies vote to continue it. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are the latest large cities to vote continuance of the Federal rent stabilization program after September 30. Other cities have already voted that Federal rent levels and Federal protection against illegal evictions shall continue in their jurisdiction until April 30, 1953. Boston, Jersey City and Newark, and the governing bodies of approximately 200 other cities, towns, boroughs and townships are among those who have taken this action.
There are, however, some 20,000,000 residents of Federally controlled units in the nation's 200 normal defense rental areas, so when Congress decided to end the program in the normal areas on September 30, except where local governing bodies voted otherwise, every one of these people was affected. Unless cities take action before September 30, they will not have any chance to do so. No public hearings have to be held and either the governing bodies can vote a continuance by resolution or they may decide to hold a referendum vote on the question.
Governor Luis Munoz Marin of Puerto Rico has sent a message to all Puerto Rican municipalities begging them to continue the program that has proved fair and efficient.
There are in the nation 115 critical defense housing areas where more than 3,000,000 people live in units under a Federal rent stabilization program, and in these critical areas Federal protection will continue until April 30, 1953, so it is in the other areas—declared normal—that citizens must wake up and act to protect themselves.
These are the situations in which we become conscious of the fact that democracy requires not only an educated citizenry but a constantly watchful citizenry. It is so easy for things to happen, and unless someone moves us to act we seem to do nothing about many things. Here's a typical example of such behaviour: Someone I know not long ago almost missed a train. When attention was called to the fact that he should be on his way to make the train at the station, he answered that no one had called him!
That is what most of us sometimes do about our civic responsibilities. We expect someone to bring them to our attention and are vastly surprised when nobody does so, and then we sometimes lose out on something that is really serious so far as we are concerned.