Most individuals in America will
not voluntardy open their own homes
for use as public-housing projects. A
man will rush downtown every workday morning to open his place of business to the public; yet he wants a
certain amount of privacy in his own
home. All of us know of residential
areas which are zoned against business
use — the presumed objective being
privacy, exclusion of the public, restriction of noise and traffic.
Judging from the petitions of protest from nearby residents whenever a
Housing Authority announces consideration of a site for a public-housing
project, it appears that many homeowners don't even want to live close to
such a project. Now, this seems to be
a strange reaction from people who
are supposed to believe that public-
housing is a fine thing for their community! But the fact is that the erection of a public-housing project tends
to drive down the market values of
nearby homes. It is as though a new
and continuing tax burden is being
imposed upon the property which adjoins a public-housing project.
In fact, that may be precisely the
situation. Suddenly the community
"needs" additional water, sewage,
road, school, police, and other facilities of a public service nature. The
project which necessitates this increased cost to local government is
not arranged to bear its share of the
burden of these services. The difference turns out to be a levy against
other property in the community, a
continuing burden which capitalizes
itself into a reduction in the market
value of such adjacent property. Yet
people will vote — or wire their congressman to vote — to do this to their
fellow citizens in other communities.
CREATING SLUMS BY FORCE
When such a thing happens to any
community, the tendency will be for
the present residents to look elsewhere for homes. Homes and grounds
which had been tended w ith pride will
begin to show signs of neglect. The
community will deteriorate by reason
of the added burden of government
which is imposed upon it. This is the
manner in which new slums are created — by force. What the government
takes from an individual as taxes is
no longer available to that individual
for use as he might please toward the
care and improvement of his own
home and his own family.
It is true, of course, that a new
housing project might afford a growing
volume of trade to merchants and
others who serve a community in
a business sense. Local salesmen of
building materials and workmen in
construction industries may look upon
the project as a source of new revenue.
But . . . what might have seemed to a
businessman to be a good idea when
he was plugging for a public-housing
project for his community may turn
out to be the cause of his own downfall as the deterioration of the community follows its natural course.
Any individual who would live beyond his means, voting himself into a
home which he cannot afford, is not
a desirable neighbor for those who
adhere to the concepts of private ownership tind control of property. A person who will swallow his self-respect
in order to live in subsidized housing
may be expected to evade his other
obligations and responsibilities in a
HIGH-COST PUBLIC HOUSING
Public housing is sometimes
thoughtlessly, or maybe willfully, described as "low-cost government housing." Though it may be low-rent housing to the subsidized tenant, it is not
low-cost by any acceptable method of
The late Senator Taft said: "I have
not any doubt that as a general thing
it probably is more expensive and
usually does cost the government more
to build than a private person."3 And
he might well have added that the
costs to the government are always
assessed in one way or another as
taxes to be paid by private persons.
... A Senate subcommittee study of
public housing in Washington, D. O,
revealed that private enterprise can
build at a cost of from 25 per cent to
40 per cent less than the public
It stands to reason that private
builders, who must bear the cost and
responsibility of their own mistakes,
would be more efficient than those
who plan and then keep changing
their plans at the taxpayer's risk and
expense. It is not that private industry
doesn't perform the actual construction job on a public project: the difference is that they do the job under
the added handicap of governmental
aU. S. Congress, Senate, Housing unit Urban /te-
development. Hearings before Subcommittee on
Housing and Urban Redevelopment, Tilth ( •■■
1st Session, p. 2100.
'Piihlic rv. Private Hotteing, National Industrial
Conference Board, Match, 1945: also The Answer
tn I'uhlic Housing, Home Builders Vw,,1.1,1 ,
Metropolitan Washington, Washington, I). C, I'll"
rules and regulations, with the add
overhead of governmental supervise
and inspectors of supervisors. Aim
the rules laid down by the govefj
ment is one which discriminates jf
favor of unionized laborers, a wel
known method of boosting the cost
of housing construction. . . .
Some citizens of Los Angeles fe
cently took the trouble to look in"
the total costs which might be &.
volved in a proposed ten-thousan<;
unit public housing program in tW
community. The cost of constructi"'
was to have been eleven thousaO"
dollars a unit. Their conclusion *i
that "the taxpayers would be m"
better off . . . to build ten thousn"
houses costing eleven thousand 4
lars each and give them away than
build and subsidize the ten tJlOUJi
unit public housing program."5
It must be recognized that any L
tempt to compare the costs of p""^ e
versus private housing can never " ia *!1K tl
more than an estimate. When the g"] J^blie h
io' a ma
■»gs; it i
I, °ver t
P be I,
ftls can n
eminent goes into business it docs "■> t
abide bv the rules of exchange & n,..er to cl
.11,1.1. L.J, ll»\* ■ in.. V1 .,,,.,.,. ^-
accounting which tire observed by
dinary citizens. In the first place. P
eminent housing projects are sel*
* Ced' di!
ocated according to the market "3 <„;}y unfit
AAA^%AAKAAA tl^v.l'iu.l.^ ... v,.^ ...»..-- j.
mand for housing. Public housing ffl
ects often spring up on land "hj c|(1,,'nK>, 't
private citizens would reject as a ^ k^ !°n thai
for a new home. And once the site ™ H^Provi
been determined, the government iui . Parei
might have been determined by ^L
not bound by ordinary methods <"
quiring title from present owners
"just compensation" to an own
seldom the same as the price w
petitivc bargaining between
buyers and willing sellers.
The payment which the govern^
may offer in lieu of local pi"l'| (
taxes is not calculated accord'"'
the usual tax formula. The '■'!,,
interest which the government "' i(
on funds invested in such a prOJ»' i
not necessarily related to the !-,,<
market rate. And, finally, it can GJ
be known just what part ol tl" j
pense of central planning and slly
vision is properly chargeable t"
particular local housing project. .,
In other words, the govern'1^ j
which so concerns itself with 1
maintenance of "fair" competit"'^
the world of business and fj
conducts its own operations in '
/t,iv,- //,//, Report, Monterey Woods '\^r
ment Association, 4400 Sinova Street, I-"s
( ill,,,,ni.i. I.ii,,,,i,v. 1953, I). 11.
' ■ • Nu
I- vi is Fori \i News, ApH
s loin v