MARCH 12, 1946
NEW YORK, Monday—I think one of the most important things for us to be concerned about at the present time is the emergency housing legislation before Congress. There seems to be little realization in Congress that the people of the country are really aroused about housing. I was, therefore, much interested in seeing the results of a public-opinion poll made under the supervision of one of our national magazines.
According to this poll, 81.3 percent of the people want rent ceilings maintained. 63.3 percent want ceiling prices kept on building materials. 75.6 percent want these materials channeled into the low-cost residential field by government action. 48.1 percent want the government to embark on a large-scale home-building program. 80 percent want government loans to individuals for low and medium priced houses.
The North Atlantic States and the Far West, according to this survey, are the regions where housing is most difficult to find. Therefore, more people in those areas seem to realize that, if the ceilings on rents and building materials were to be removed, there would be a skyrocketing of prices for living quarters.
We again would have building going on which could not justify the amount of money put into it. In the present period, when shelter is so difficult to find, people will, of course, throw all considerations of cost to the winds but, later on, they might not be able to pay the interest on the money borrowed for building and therefore might lose everything they had put into it.
The public attitude seems to be sound in wanting ceilings kept on rents and on building materials, but the public does not seem to be well enough organized to be able to impress on the members of Congress its desires for low- and medium priced housing. I think the young veterans' organizations have been fairly vocal, but even they do not seem to have made a real campaign on individual congressmen.
I think the original housing bill, which was greatly altered in the House, should be restored in the Senate, and a real effort should be made to meet the needs of the veterans. This bill would indirectly help all of our citizens. A shortage of housing for veterans creates a shortage of housing for all citizens and, in the big cities, this overcrowding is becoming a menace to health. Also, overcrowding disrupts family life and often leads to low moral standards.
We should have foreseen many of the needs which now face us. Having failed in preparation, however, we can at least do the right thing now and provide low-cost housing quickly!