Page images
[ocr errors]


tress, the latter immediately sought their landlord and he never turned a deaf ear.'

These statements probably had no application outside the districts of the Northeast, under the direction of the Shogunate administration.

[ocr errors]

8 "In the large cities it was the custom after a fire to give the land rent free for 100 days or such other reasonable time as sufficient for building another home.

“If a tenant was notified to leave, no rent could be collected from the day of the notice, no matter how long thereafter the man remained on the land.” Id., p. 85.


More Recent History-Worldwide Character of Housing


Recent housing difficulties are not a local phenomenon. Insufficiency and inadequacy of living accommodation appear to be worldwide aftermaths of the Great War, with its deflection of industry from peace-time pursuits.

As stated in the report of the Select Committee on Reconstruction and Production of the United States Senate, of which Committee Senator William M. Calder was Chairman, presented to the Senate March 2, 1921: 1

“The housing shortage is not confined to the United States. Every civilized country is suffering from it to a greater or less extent, which tends to prove that the evil is due to causes of universal as well as local origin.”

Increased rental demands for existing housing space have been a natural and perhaps inevitable corollary. Normally, new construction would have been hastened to meet the demand and the situation thus provided its own solution. But the high cost of materials, transportation and labor, the difficulty of obtaining adequate advances of money, and the prospect of a speedy depreciation in the value of the product, have effectually served to deter not only the “speculative builder," who has hitherto shouldered the burden of the large proportion of housing projects, particularly in this country, but also others as well. Construction "was curtailed” in the United States by action of the Federal Government “during the War, and has been since seriously hampered by an unprecedented demand for consumables and luxuries which has diverted capital, labor, and materials into nonproductive or less essential fields." 2

1 P. 13.

When we consider that the intervention of the Federal Government with building commenced as early as October, 1917,3 and that in September, 1918, practically all building was brought to a standstill,“ it is not surprising that there should exist a shortage of housing, more or less acute. This shortage has been accentuated by the movement of the population into cities, due to the great industrial development.5

This housing shortage apparently still continues, for a Committee of the American Engineering Council * has just made public its report? in which it is declared that "the housing shortage is nation-wide and that the cost of building is so great that bankers cannot safely lend the necessary money and would-be house owners cannot afford to buy. The shortage in 1921 is said to be 51 per cent. of the total construction measured in square feet in 1915," and The Merchants' Association of New York after an investigation of the building industry in the United States by the Industrial Bureau of the Association has this comment to make editorially in its publication “Greater New York”: 8


[ocr errors]

Report of Select Committee on Reconstruction and Production of U. 8. Senate, page 1.

3 Id., page 5. * Id., page 6. 5 Bulletin of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 158, Oct. 15, 1914, page 9.

• Committee on Elimination of Waste in Industry, under direction of Sanford Thompson of Boston.

7 See N. Y. World, July 22, 1921. 8 Issue of July 18, 1921.

“Throughout the country there is a shortage of housing accommodations. The need for more houses has been and still is so acute that it has attracted general attention."

However, quite recently it has been stated that “increased construction of low-priced apartments in the residential boroughs of New York City has eased the housing situation but has not materially affected rentals.” ga

The consequence of the shortage in housing has been a widespread call to government for relief and a general resort to legislation for palliatives.'

Many communities have attacked the problem at its source, either by themselves undertaking building, or by directly or indirectly subsidizing private interests to do so.

The ordinary means of supply by the erection of houses by capitalists for investment have rarely proved adequate. 10

The conclusion is everywhere arrived at that private initiative has proved inadequate to deal with the problem and that systematic Government regulation, encouragement, and financial aid must be given. 11

The enterprise of the United States Housing Corporation 2 SA "Monthly Review of Credit and Business Conditions" Sept. 1, 1921, issued by the Federal Reserve Bank, New York.

• Those who are interested in pursuing the subject beyond the brief review given in the text, will find the subject of Government Aid to Home Owning and Housing of Working People in Foreign Countries, exhaustively treated in the Bulletin of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 158, issued Oct. 15, 1914, a pamphlet of 451 pages.


10 Bulletin No. 158 of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, page 9.

11 Id., pages 9 and 10. On page 10 will be found collected a list of pamphlets and publications having reference to American housing conditions. See also preface to "The Law and Practice with regard to housing in England and Wales,” by Sir Kingsley Wood, M. P., the preface written by Rt. Hon. Christopher Addison, M. D., M. P., Minister of Health-London, 1921.

12 On March 1, 1918, Congress voted authority to the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation to purchase, lease, requisition or condemn land and houses for housing purposes for the use of corporation


is an example of direct governmental action in construction of housing. Great Britain's Housing and Town Planning

. Act of 1919,13 providing for the erection of half a million small homes and their rental at rates the occupants can afford, may be similarly classed. This remedy supplemented earlier statutes regulating rents.14

The Corn Production Act of 1917 15 placed limitations upon the amounts of rents "notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary” and any question as to whether the rent was in excess of that permitted was to be determined by an arbitrator. 16

Massachusetts in 1917 adopted a Constitutional Amendment " permitting the Commonwealth and cities and towns therein to embark in housing enterprises in times of “war, public exigency, emergency and distress” and by subsequent legislation 18 authorized the acquisition and disposition of real property by cities and towns for housing. Before this, in 1915, an amendment to the State Constitution had been adopted, 19 which authorized the Commonwealth "to take land and to hold, improve, sub-divide, build upon and sell the same, for the purpose of relieving congestion of popula


employees. See, for further legislation of Congress, article by Edward L. Schaub, vol., 28, Journal of Political Economy, page 17 et seq.

13 9 and 10 Geo. V, Ch. 35.

14 Corn Production Act of 1917, Part III, relating to “Restriction of Agricultural Rents” and Chapter 97 of the Acts of 1915, 5 and 6 Geo. V.

16 Chap. 46 of 7 & 8 Geo. V.

16 By Chap. 7 of the Acts of 1919, 9 Geo. V, the benefits under the statute of 1915 before referred to were continued and extended and “notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary" increases in rent beyond those permitted are made "irrecoverable from the tenant” and, "if paid, may be recovered by the tenant.”

17 Const. Amendments, Article 47.
18 Massachusetts General Acts of 1920, Ch. 554,
10 Article 43 of the State Constitution,

« EelmineJätka »