MARCH 13, 1953
NEW YORK, Thursday—One cannot help feeling a little uncertain about President Eisenhower's choice of Rep. Albert M. Cole of Kansas as head of the Housing and Home Finance Administration. Throughout his career in the House Mr. Cole has consistently voted against public housing. He does not seem to be the ideal person to carry out the mandates of housing legislation.
One of the things that has always disturbed me is the influence of the real estate lobby in the whole housing situation. We have undoubtedly met the needs for housing in many parts of the country to a greater or lesser extent in these past few years and the situation is much less difficult than it was. In addition, we have made a beginning in many places by attacking the problems for certain segments of the population that have the most difficult times in finding adequate housing.
There is no question that in New York City Negroes and Puerto Ricans are forced to live under bad housing conditions. This will only change when segregation goes by the board, and all tenants are acceptable anywhere if they live up to the standards of cleanliness and order that are required by tenants in general, and pay their rent. One sees the beginnings of this fair dealing in many cities across this great country of ours—but only beginnings, and we must continue to move forward along these lines.
Old slum areas are gradually being eliminated and replaced in many cases by good housing. There arises, of course, the need now to deal with new situations. We certainly do not want to be frozen at particular levels of rent, which means that the landlords do not find it profitable to build and cannot make enough to keep the buildings in good repair. On the other hand, there must be some way of checking on the landlords who make undue profits and thereby prevent people from having proper housing at a decent level of rent.
The role of the government, it seems to me, is to protect both sides and not to allow any special interest to be predominant.
It is difficult for government to perform the tasks expected of it on city, state or national levels without building up a constantly increasing bureaucracy. That is why a change of administration and a review of all government activities may serve a valuable purpose if it does not devolve into simply turning out one group of people and bringing in another. The housing situation must be carefully watched.
As one reads what Secretary General Trygve Lie has to say about his resignation and his work during the seven years of the United Nations, one is struck by the difficulties that surround his position. One part of his statement should be made clear to the American people. He said: "Permit me to call to the attention of the delegates, in this connection, that not a single American staff member of the United Nations Secretariat has ever, in the whole history of the organization, been charged in any court of the United States—much less convicted of espionage or any act of subversion or sabotage."
This will be reassuring to many people who have worried for fear American Communists had used the U.N. as a point from which to carry on espionage.