Wee our heads and deplore crime
"'' delinquency and disease, for we
|j°.V'c' only be furthering crime and
I eli|iquen( v and disease if we killed
r'Wic housing. We would not be vot-
8 for economy, but for real extrava-
£n°c and wastage of human re-
iirc-cs. There is no longer any ques-
0 of whether public housing is
Taft and others like him settled
a ut c °r un-American in any way. Sen-
blic lion, "tor y.lft „,„l .,rl,„.-.- luVQ u;m l..»i„,i
f the lea*
; Act witj
! law, sp«
.its to c\
e time '
The Price We Pay
By Paul L. Poirot*
ng pro^ tlio!Ve,must have better housing for
... . "e Americans who are now forced
' I t'.Mll'- -U i
.lini-st'^V Ii,' "'
,,:,tor W S"lnSs;
iOOO in''' tani ° believe a great number ol the
T'^'11-',1,Iilr dti*ens "' ""' United
nhowen' *! * housing. But there are questions
istic or un-American, as many
>ccn prone to say. It is not social-
that question long ago.
The question now is whether we
shall doom millions of our citizens to
ti life of despair, without any hope of
having an opportunity to achieve a
decent place in which to live and
bring up their children in decent surroundings with the slums removed.
We must not let up, but we must
continue to wage a full-scale battle
on this, our number one scandal.
the prevailing market price. Or suppose that some owner decides to sell
his home for a figure well below what
the prevailing market price might be.
This, too, might lead to a so-called
housing shortage, for there would be
a tremendous demand for such a
Actually, these are pretty radical
suppositions. Private builders and
home owners usually do not cut their
own throats in any such fashion ....
slums and substandard
said tt presidential candidate.
dent E* StatetT, fi'C citinens "' ""' V'"''
ii i no*1 too i- lnere reallv seems to be no
' ,'f"hi as to the desirability of ade-
led off ' fctp What k"ul of nousing is ade"
tutl"'1 \<i ■ ' ' • as to who is being forced to
ott'san* Vs"1 slllms aml substandard dvvell-
tlie '' ferh' ° is aPP'>''n8 'he force. And
f the P1* °fal?tS '"" most imP°rtant questions
tied1 kh "avc to do with the methods of
.'rM t^ CVi'lg heth'r hot'sing. Who is to
s that n1' * to ne what is bctter or best? Who
\,t .Provide and who is to occupy
. -n better housing?
ident r# K, Presidential candidate probably
f 3& "eeri referring to his own personal
,s 'i"1< Viv'"1i he called for bctter hous-
> 1 the 1 N 'S Prohable, however, that at
,,,rfi to °rie purpose of his statement was
'am ' "i fc,publish his eligibility for occu-
■ k[: "te House is not a housing proj-
• \<m "' usual sense of the term; but
"".K-t"' % 'hods of providing the dwelling
wc. '. f> %L-()i selecting the occupant are
" " it- ' Hli'"f-V similar to those used for
' ^.Vii"' 'thi ""sing projects. In either ease.
•d to '
a house which has been
, V repaired at a cost to Ameri-
8*Payers of $5,832,000. Of course,
■ '"tc Mouse is not!
fcft cal method is used for deter
Ep the need and assessing the
We/?jMt f«l>lic II
•J'tulc is excerpted from Dr. Poirot's
"",lJV> of the costs involved.
■<ih/. ^/ork. Dr. "i'oi'rot,'
Ii. ','"""■ Housing, a 1954 publication
- rOl!\|)Mit)\ |.-o|i ECONOMIC
K FOUNDATION F
*k y>'IO\, INC., Irvington-on-Hudson,
fit .0rk- Dr. Poirot, a staff member of
i>ri!;'), "Is" written V7ir Pension idea.
Iits and Unman Rights, BafgaAn-
eeuritij, and other booklets and
Lftrt, , a'so written
Although the foregoing campaign
statement did not say so, many persons believe that a housing shortage
evists in the United States at the present time. They say that there are not
enough dwellings to satisfy the demand. They say it isn't right that some
American families should be deprived
of better housing, especially when
they appear willing to pay for it. They
say that private builders aren't doing
the job, that the competitive system
isn't functioning properly. Many persons believe that the government
ought to do something about such a
A seeming corrective for tiny shortage is to produce more of the things
which are scarce — in this instance,
produce more houses. And that's precisely what a great many citizens believe the government of the United
States ought to do; carry on and enlarge its public housing program . . .
The problem is that there are not
enough dwellings to satisfy the demand at prevailing prices ....
Someone has been trying to set too
low a price for housing, thus causing
too much demand. Theoretically, such
interference could originate with individual owners of houses, apartments,
and other dwellings. Suppose an apartment house builder were to open a
new project, for some reason offering
all of his well-built and highly desirable apartments at a monthly rental of
ten dollars, including utilities. In most
communities such a ridiculously low
rental rate would bring forth far more
applications from tenants than could
be satisfied. The apartment house
owner would have created a housing
"shortage" simply by building housing
and offering it for rental at less than
}i ^ ,,
"in vt \i ws, April, 1956
Sometimes the government — federal, state, or local — interferes with
the price signals in the housing market. Not the private builder, but the
government, steps in and says that
rents shall not exceed ten dollars a
month, or whatever other figure they
deem to be fair. The consequence
of such indirect housing subsidy, of
course, is that those tenants who are
most fortunate will expand into living quarters more spacious than they
would consider necessary at the competitive market price. . . .
The tendency of rent control to
aggravate the housing shortage seems
to have been recognized even by the
government. ... Of course, the government doesn't deliberately set out to
create a housing shortage when it
indulges in rent control and various
easy home-purchase subsidies. The
object is to help the needy, the returning veterans, the families of defense
workers, the "underpaid public servants," all those who are thought to be
worthy and deserving. And it is not
ti popular thing to question such humanitarian motives. However . . . the
housing shortage persists because of
what is being done by the government
in its effort to correct it. And the victims who suffer most tire the very ones
who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of this intervention — the persons who were presumed to be unable
to meet their own need for housing.
Even an artificially created shortage
hits first and hardest against those
least able to afford the scarce item.
The government is trying to prohibit competitive bargaining as the
determinant of the price for housing.
In other words, the government litis
been trying to force people to do what
thev would not do voluntarily. . ■ ■
Shortages and surpluses do not develop or, tit least, do not continue for
long when prices are free to fluctuate
according to the choices of buyers and
The current housing "shortage" is
not a thing that can be measured