tions obtained during the taking of the 1956 National Housing Inventory.

Because the housing picture varies in every State in the Union, the Commission called upon its State Advisory Committees to assist in gathering information about the situation in their respective States. An extensive questionnaire was sent to each State Committee suggesting the kind of information needed. A number of Committees appointed subcommittees on housing or tried otherwise to make a survey of the problem in their States. The excerpts from State Advisory Committee reports, which follow each chapter in this section of the report, demonstrate their usefulness.

Officials and intergroup relations officers of the various Federal housing agencies were also consulted. Their co-operation was of great value.

The Commission decided to hold public hearings to get firsthand testimony from other housing officials and experts with a variety of views, including spokesmen for the housing industry, for the financing institutions, and for organizations concerned with discrimination in housing

At these hearings and in the Commission's studies and field surveys, answers were sought to the following broad questions: 1. What is the factual situation with respect to the quantity and quality of

housing at present occupied by or available to racial, national, or religious minority groups? How does this differ, if at all, from the housing situation

of the majority ? 2. What difficulties, if any, are encountered by minority groups in finding decent,

safe, and sanitary housing? What accounts for any such difficulties? 3. To what extent, if at all, do patterns of residential segregation by racial,

national, or religious groups exist, and what is the cause? 4. What are the effects of either inadequate housing for minority groups or of

segregated housing, in terms of crime, juvenile delinquency, disease, interracial relations, public education, property values, the municipal tax base,

and the general standards of city life? 5. What State and local laws, policies, and programs have been adopted to pro

vide equal opportunity to adequate housing on a nondiscriminatory basis?

What has been the experience under these measures? 6. What is the effect of Federal housing laws, policies, and programs on the

housing patterns and problems of minority groups and on State and local housing programs? Particularly, what are the practices and effects in this respect of the three main constituents of the Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency—the Public Housing Administration, the Federal Housing

Administration, and the Urban Renewal Administration ? 7. What proposals regarding Federal housing laws and policies should this

Commission recommend to the President and the Congress?

: See tables in Appendix of Hearing before the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Housing, vol. 2, Conference with Federal Housing Officials, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959. (Hereafter referred to as Washington Hearing.)

The first Commission hearing on housing was held in New York City on February 2 and 3, 1959. Thirty-six witnesses were heard in two full days of hearings, presided over by Commissioner Hesburgh. New York City was chosen for the first hearing not only because it is the nation's largest city but also because city and State legislation combined to give it the nation's most extensive antidiscrimination laws and programs.

After field surveys by its staff, the Commission decided to hold additional public hearings on housing in Atlanta, where the local rule of "separate but equal" is being followed, and in Chicago, where there are no effective laws respecting racial housing patterns and problems.

At the Atlanta hearing on April 10, 1959, presided over by Commissioner Carlton, 15 witnesses testified and Commission members were taken for a two-hour view of the city by Mayor William B. Hartsfield. At the Chicago hearing, held on May 5 and 6, 1959, with Commissioner Hesburgh presiding, 33 witnesses were heard.

Following these regional hearings, members of the Commission met on June 10, 1959, in executive session with Mr. Norman P. Mason, Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency; Mr. Richard L. Steiner, Commissioner of the Urban Renewal Administration; Mr. J. Stanley Baughman, President of the Federal National Mortgage Association; Mr. Albert J. Robertson, Chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board; and with spokesmen for the Federal Housing Administration, the Public Housing Administration, the Voluntary Home Mortgage Credit Program, and the Veterans Administration.

The transcripts of these hearings, which contain much valuable information, are printed as appendices to this report and may be obtained from the Commission.Sa

In addition, before completing this study and making its recommendations, the Commission had the benefit of a two-day exchange of views with delegates from each of the Commission's 48 State Advisory Committees. This meeting on June 9 and 10, 1959, was of real value in helping the Commission weigh some of the complexities involved.

The Commission is aware that in the period of 16 months which it had to conduct this study and prepare its report, it could not hope to present the full picture or to find all the answers. What it has seen and heard and learned convinces it that housing is one of the most important and urgent aspects of civil rights. Its housing study also demonstrated that civil rights is truly a nationwide problem. With nearly half of the nation's Negroes now living in the North and West, fourfifths in urban areas, and with a large influx of Puerto Ricans to New York and other cities, this is clearly not a matter vexing the Southern

& Commission on Civil Rights, 726 Jackson Place, N.W., Washington 25, D.C.

region alone. The "black belts” of Negro residential areas now spreading in most northern and western cities result in schools that are segregated in fact though not by law. And the value of the right to vote is clearly diminished in the social demoralization that goes with slums, congestion, and blighted areas.

As Governor Rockefeller reminded the Commission in New York, when we speak of housing, we are talking about the American home.* We are also talking about the promises of the Constitution. Like charity, Commissioner Hesburgh said in opening the Commission's New York housing hearing, the justice sought through equal protection of the laws should begin at home and in homes. He added:

It certain Americans, because of their color, race, religion or national origin, grow up and live in conditions of squalor, closed off from equal opportunities to have good homes and good neighborhoods, then all of America is the poorer and the promise of the Constitution—the promise of

the American dream-is not really being fulfilled." When we speak of housing we are also talking about the face of America, now and in the future. Already about 100 million Americans, or 60 percent of our population, live within the 168 standard metropolitan areas, and soon over two-thirds of our people will live in these areas. Urban renewal and redevelopment is thus reshaping the face of the nation. As Commissioner Hesburgh said in New York, “That face must have the beauty and dignity and harmony of the Constitution, not the face of slums and discrimination and chaos." ?

Regional Hearings, p. 8. sid. at 5.

• Census Population Report P-20, No. 71, Dec. 7, 1956. As of March 1956 it was estimated that over 96 million people lived in standard metropolitan areas, an increase of over 12 million in that category since April 1950. On August 24, 1959, the Census Bureau reported that 64 percent of the 51.3 million households were in cities or suburbs, 26 percent in the country but not on farms, and 10 percent on farms.

"Regional Hearings, p. 3.

A. America's Housing Needs and Problems


Questions of the denial of the equal protection of the law in housing by reason of color, race, religion, or national origin should first be seen within the context of a general crisis in housing vexing the whole country.

The first fact in appraising racial problems in housing is that in probably every city there are, as the Mayor of Atlanta stressed, slums. Slums and blighted areas are plaguing each city that the

" Commission has studied, regardless of the race, color, religion, or national origin of the inhabitants. Most lower-income Americans, both whites and nonwhites in most cities lack adequate opportunity to live outside these substandard areas.

It was suggested to the Commission that “the poor will always be with us” and that there is “no prospect of adequate housing for the poor in the foreseeable future". But the U.S. Constitution was adopted in order to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to all Americans. Certainly these purposes remain unachieved if some Americans have no choice but to live in slums.

Congress has declared the goal of Federal housing policies to be "a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family,” with “the elimination of substandard and blighted areas”3 Yet despite this national goal, despite the national wealth, and despite the science and technology of the 20th century, the mounting housing needs of the American people are not being adequately met.

The poor have always been with us, but until recent times the frontier was an ever-present outlet for the pressure of increasing population. But now there is little open land left where a man can start a new life on his own homestead. Industrialization has drawn men to the cities, where the factories and jobs are, but where problems of housing are far more complicated. The cities are full, and yet the great migration from rural to urban areas continues, and population growth compounds the problem. The other great migration from central city to suburbs adds further complications. The editors of Fortune have called this crisis The Exploding Metropolis.*


* Regional Hearings in New York, Atlanta, and Chicago before the United States Com. mission on Civil Rights, Housing, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959, p. 447. (Hereafter this publication will be referred to as Regional Hearings.)

a Id, at 490. • Housing Act of 1949, Public Law 171, 81st Congress. • The Editors of Fortune, The Exploding Metropolis, Doubleday Anchor Book, 1958.

Lower income Americans who move to the cities may find higher paying jobs but their prospects for decent housing will usually be dim. For there is simply not enough housing available for them. In New York, Atlanta, and Chicago the Commission has seen for itself and has heard expert testimony concerning this shortage of decent low-cost housing. One New York State official described it as a “housing famine” in that State.5

In New York City there are an estimated 600,000 families, or two million citizens, occupying dwelling units that are below standard for wholesome and healthful living. Housing experts and city officials testified that this lack of sufficient housing for lower-income citizens is a nationwide fact of primary significance to the Commission's study.

The Commission has also collected information charting the growth in urban population that largely accounts for both slums and the shortage of low-cost housing. Some 66 percent of all Americans, or over 120 million people, now live in cities; and it is estimated that in the next 20 years our urban areas will have to house some 72 million more people, an increase of more than 50 percent. In the Atlanta metropolitan area, for instance, the population increased from about 700,000 in 1950 to about one million in 1959, a growth of over 40 percent in nine years. This is the result both of the natural rate of population increase, now about 1.5 percent a year, and of the continuing vast migration to metropolitan areas.1

It is estimated that some five million Americans move each year from one State to another.11 Many of these migrants cannot afford good housing in the suburbs. Hence, they fill existing slums and overflow into neighboring areas, creating new slums. As a leading New York real estate developer testified: "When the owners find they have a captive group who can move nowhere else ... they are not under a competitive requirement to maintain their dwellings properly, and there is almost understandably considerable tendency to


s Regional Hearings, p. 147. See also statement of Mayor Daley of Chicago, id. at 621. The 1950 Census of Housing indicated that there were more than 16 million dwelling units throughout the United States that were classified as substandard. More than 1043 million of this total either lacked a private toilet or bath, or had no running water. More than 3.7 million were both dilapidated and lacked private bath facilities or running water. (Volume I, General Characteristics, Part 1-U.S. Summary, Table 7, 1950 Census of Housing.)

* Id. at 321.
"Id. at 123, 124, 143, 254.
8 Regional Hearings, pp. 123, 290.
'Id. at 446, 478, 486.

10 Census Bulletins P-25, No. 195 and P-20, No. 71. The Census Bureau estimates that 85 percent of the 14.7 million increase in population between 1950 and 1956 was accounted for by the increase in the population of the 168 standard metropolitan areas.

u Regional Bearings, p. 385.


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