xt7nvx061h0d https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7nvx061h0d/data/mets.xml Federal Works Agency, United States Housing Authority Works Progress Administration Housing Publications Federal Works Agency, United States Housing Authority 1940 11 pages, 1 unnumbered page: illustrations 21 x 9 cm UK holds archival copy for ASERL Collaborative Federal Depository Program libraries. Call Number: FW 3.2:R 88 books  English Washington, D.C.: Federal Works Agency, United States Housing Authority  This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed in accordance with U. S. copyright laws. Works Progress Administration Housing Publications Housing, Rural -- United States Public housing -- United States Rural housing: An Endeavor That is Rounding out the Nationwide Rehousing Program Administration by Public Housing Agencies with the Assistance of the United States Housing Authority, 1940 text Rural housing: An Endeavor That is Rounding out the Nationwide Rehousing Program Administration by Public Housing Agencies with the Assistance of the United States Housing Authority, 1940 1940 1940 2021 true xt7nvx061h0d section xt7nvx061h0d \\‘—\/\i E, (g; L25?)


F1 .

An endeavor that is rounding out the Nation-
wide rehousing program administered by public
housing agencies with the assistance of the United
States Housing Authority.

hl-VHEN THE United States Housing
Act was passed in 1937, establishing Federal
aid for slum clearance and low-rent housing, it
specifically provided for such assistance to
public housing agencies in ”rural or urban com—
munities.” Congress wrote this provision into
the law in formal recognition of the fact that
bad housing, far from being confined to urban
areas, is actually a condition that seriously
menaces the welfare of families all over America,
from the most isolated farms to the most
populous cities.

While it ha; been ertinzated that a third of the
Nation at a whole liver under Jahrtandard hearing
renditions, aheat 60 percent (if all American farm
faenilier—or approximately 4,000,000—are in-
adequately heated.

Fully a fourth of all farm houses are estimated
to be in poor structural condition because of
defective foundations, floors, walls, or roofs.
More than half of the farm houses in the United
States are over 25 years old, while one farm house
in five is more than 50 years old. Though age
does not necessarily mean that a dwelling is

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‘ f can “




substandard, a substantial number of these old
houses have far outlived their usefulness. For
the most part, they are shamefully run-down,
unpainted shacks, some of them with holes in the
roofs, and'sornegwithout doors or window panes.
The figurescited above, based on a Nation-
wide survey of farm housing conducted in 1934
by the Bureau of Home Economics of the United
States Department of Agriculture, demonstrate
something that most people do not realiZe—the
fact that inadequate housing is even more ex—

tensive in rural areas than in cities and towns.
Other investigations have revealed extensive
overcrowding in farm homes. In many rural
counties there is not a single unoccupied, hab—
itable dwelling. Consequently, large families
.are often forced to live cramped up in miserable
little two- or three—room shacks, or several
families have to ”double up" in single dwellings
that are frequently substandard to begin with.
The program of Federal aid for rural housing
not only recogniZes that the majority of Ameri-
can farm families are inadequately housed;
it also takes into account the fact that most
rural families have incomes too small to enable
them to do anything about it. A study made
by the National Resources Committee for
1935—36 showed that over half of the Nation's
farmers receive less than $1,000 a year. More
‘ than a third have annual incomes amounting
to less than $750. These figures do not repre—
sent cash income alone, but make a substantial
allowance for certain nonmoney items such as
fuel and food grown and consumed on the farm,
and the value of housing owned, or occupied
without charge, and considered as part of the
income of the occupants. And they would be
even lower if the incomes of several hundred
thousand farm families on relief were taken into


 x u

Such considerations as these led the USHA
to formulate, within the framework of the ACt,
a rehousin g plan that could be carried out, with
minor variations, in rural as well as urban
areas. Since the USHA program is dependent
upon local initiative and responsibility, progress
in both the rural housing movement and the
urban program has varied according to the
speed with which the communities themselves
established local authorities to obtain USHA
assistance in rehousing.

At the time the United States Housing Act
was passed, there were 46 local housing authori-
ties in existence. The most active ones were in
the larger cities, while only one authority rep-
resented a rural area. By the end of March 1940
the number of local housing authorities had
increased to 335, of which more than 65 are
county authorities.

Naturally enough, the larger cities took the
lead in the rehousing movement. Congested
urban slums were dramatic. More faCts and
figures were available as to their extent and as to
their cost to taxpayers. The cities that had
been armed from the outset With able and en-
thusiastic authorities were in a position to forge
ahead. And equally important were the long
records of experience in public undertakings
that all of the big cities had to spur them on.

Meanwhile, interest in the program on the
part of smaller cities and towns increased rap—
idly. Local authorities in 24 communities with
populations of less than 25,000 had obtained
USHA commitments by the end of 1938. In
1939 the number of local authorities repre—
senting such localities and taking part in the
rehousing program reached 48. Thus more than
27 percent of all communities with USHA com—
mitments were towns with less than 25,000
inhabitants. Among the smaller localities for





which loan contracts have been approved are a
number with populations of only two or three
thousand, including Pelly, Tex., Beverly, N. J.,
and Mt. Hope, W. Va.

But for the Nation’s sparsely populated rural
areas, the establishment of local housing author-
ities to undertake public projects was a new
step, a broader assumption of public responsi-
bility for protecting health, safety, and morals.
When additional local authorities were set up
in rural regions, they took the first steps slowly,
though fully aware, from their own plight
as well as from what statistiCS there were on
farm housing, that rural needs are even more
acute than those of urban areas.

Early in 1940, as the climax to months of
effort on the part of the USHA, the Department
of Agriculture, and the respective local author—
ities, came the announcement of details of the
first six projects to be undertaken with USHA
assistance in Strictly rural areas. These six
projects, made up of individual farm dwellings
in the South and Middle West, have been ap-
proved by the President for loan contracts and
will soon pass from the blueprint stage into
actual construction. The States represented in
this first group of rural projects are Arkansas,
Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and
South Carolina.

Pending legislation, which has been passed
by the Senate and is now before the House of
Representatives, would require the setting aside
of $200,000,000 of USHA loan authoriZations
for rural projects. Loans in this amount
would make it possible to provide simple,
healthful homes for about 102,000 ill-housed
farm families at rents they can afford. Further-
more, suggested modifications of the pending
bill would permit the USHA, with the coopera—
tion of the Department of Agriculture, to extend



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assistance for rural housing wherever the need
exists and local authorities are lacking, includ:
ing even those States which do not yet have
proper enabling legislation. A full-fledged
rural housing program in all parts of the
Nation, to go hand in hand with that already
well under way in urban areas, would thus be

Though the United States Housing Act does
not authorize the sale of homes built with USHA
aid to the families who occupy them, the bill
new pending in Congress would permit public
housing agencies to sell as well as rent the
individual farm dwellings built with USHA
assistance. Aid to be extended to farm families
by the Department of Agriculture for the pur—
pose of promoting a balanced farm economy is
cited as the means by which the farmers may
eventually have incomes large enough to war-
rant converting ordinary rental agreements into
purchase contracts, under which the balance
of the debt attributable to each dwelling unit
would be met in small payments over a period
of years.

How the Rural Housing Program Works.

The USHA neither builds the new farm houses
nor manages them. As in the urban housing
program, all rehousing plans originate with,
and are carried out by public housing agencies
or authorities set up for that purpose. Public
housing agencies may borrow up to 90 percent of
the cost of approved projects from the USHA;
they must raise at least 10 percent from other
sources. This may be done by selling their
bonds on the open market—bonds that are not
debts of the local governments but which are
supported by revenues from the housing projects
themselves. Housing authorities may also





obtain donations of land and services toward
making up part of the cost of projects.

When the new homes are completed, the
USHA makes annual contributions to the hous-
ing authorities to insure rentals within reach of
the communities' low-income families. The
local governments make contributions toward
low rents, too, generally in the form of tax
exemption. Such contributions must be equal
to at least one-fifth of the Federal contributions.

Four kinds of low-income families will occupy
the new homes built under the rural housing
program: Small farm owners, tenant farmers,
sharecroppers, and rural wage workers.





Drawing of standard low-rent farm house. Plans call for
one-acre site, with fencing for garden and poultry, a
clean, sealed well, and a sanitary privy.

Most of the rural housing developments will
be made up of single frame dwellings built on
individual farms scattered throughout the
county. Title to the sites, which will average
about an acre each, must be obtained by the
housing authorities from the various farm
owners, either as a donation or at a nominal
amount. Before the new houses are built,
appropriate protective agreements will be
worked out between all parties concerned.



 Arrangements must also be made to tear down
or effectively close as living quarters as many
substandard dwellings as there are new units
built with USHA aid.

The provision of such simple new homes will
open the way to a cleaner, healthier, and more
productive existence for the Nation's farm
families. Landlords will also benefit through
the increased productivity and the tendency of


Standard design for farm home under the USHA rural
housing program. Note space provided for future bath.

well-housed families to be content to remain
where they are, rather than to “move on to

greener pastures.
The States with housing enabling acts provid-





ing for county authorities through which rural
housing may be undertaken are as follows:

Arkansas Maryland Oregon
California Mississippi Pennsylvania
Delaware* Nebraska South Carolina
Georgia New Jersey Virginia
Illinois North Dakota Washington
Indiana Ohio T

X———— County Takes Advantage of USHA


A specific example will illustrate more exactly
how the rural housing plan is working in con—
nection with the projects that have already
been approved and initiated.

X County, in the deep South, will have
one of the first rural projects to be built with
USHA assistance. The county has a rural pop-
ulation of about 16,000. Roughly, a third of
the families own their farms and work them
themselves, another third are tenant farmers or
wage workers, and the rest of the farms are
worked by sharecroppers.

Most of the families in the county live on
“two-mule" farms—that is, farms with no more
land than they themselves can cultivate .with
two mules. They raise cotton for the most
part, though in recent years there has been an
increase in the acreage planted to other crops.

It is estimated that over 80 percent of the
county’s population now live in crude, un—
painted shacks, many of them windowless
and unscreened. In some cases the most ele—
mental sanitary facilities are lacking. These


*Or part of a county.

TProvides for the establishment of housing authorities
in the counties by the State Board of Housing, which also
prescribes the area of operation of each of them within the




dangerously unsafe and insanitary housing con—
ditions have long perplexed county officials.
For example, late in 1939 the Health Depart-
ment reported:

“Malaria is one of the major public health problems in
X County. The reported malaria death rate for
the County for the last decade averages 31 per 100,000 pop-
ulation, whereas for the State the corresponding rate is 13.

”The major problem of this department is that of provid-
ing the rural homes with the proper type of human excre-
ment disposal systems. To combat such conditions, this
department has operated a sanitary privy project.

“A screening dproject was operate for a short time but
was discontinue due to lack of adequate and efficient per-

"The people in rural homes have been urged to construct
or improve their wells so that they will be watertight at
the ground surface in order to protect the supply from
surface contamination . . .

“Due to the upward trend of typhus fever morbidity rate
this department is insisting that every home and business
establishment should be constructed rat-proof.” .


Such deplorable conditions as these led to the
establishment of the X————- County Housing
Authority, a public agency compOSed of five
members, to enlist the assistance of the USHA
and the Department of Agriculture in Carrying
out a low-rent housing program for the com-

AppliCations from farm families with incomes
too meager to enable them to provide them—
selves with safe and sanitary dwellings were
received and carefully considered by the author-
ity. On the basis of this determination of the
county's rural housing needs, combined with a
study of the incomes of its ill—housed families,
the X———— County authority has worked out
plans for its first project.

As a result of these efforts, some 200 families
will soon be moving from their present dismal
and insanitary quarters into comfortable new
individual farm homes, free from leaky roofs
and faulty walls and flooring. Each dwelling
“unit" will include a simple frame house with
living room, dining room, kitchen, three bed-




rooms, space for future bathroom, Storage space,
and a work porch; a sanitary privy; and a clean,
sealed well. There will be fenced-in areas for
gardening and for poultry.

The local authority plans to distribute the
200 new houses as evenly as possible, on the
basis of need, over the entire county. All of
them will be built on farms approved by the
Department of Agriculture as likely to be
successful from an economic point of view.

The new dwellings will be leased at rentals
well Within the means of low-income farm
families. Present indications are that cash
rents of less than $50 a year per unit will be
achieved. It will be possible to set the cash
rent at such a low figure because the occupants
themselves will perform the ordinary mainte—
nance and repair work. The method of rent
payment on the X———-—County project dwell—
ings will naturally be different from that in
urban projects. Payments will likely be made
when the farm crops are sold, rather than
month by month.

As in all USHA-assisted projects, admission to
the X County project will be limited to
families whose annual net income over a fixed
period (3 to 5 years) immediately preceding the
time of admission averaged no more than five
times the rental (including the value or cost to
the tenant of heat, light, water, and cooking
fuel), except in the case of large families, where
the ratio may be six to one. In calculating a
farm family’s income to determine eligibility,
net profit from the sale of farm produce is in-
cluded, plus the value of products raised on the
farm and consumed in the home.

Agreements made in connection with the
X County project will include assurance
of advice and assistance from the Department of
Agriculture, for the USHA recognizes the im—





 portance of the relationship that exists between
rural housing and farm economy. This will be
done not only for the purpose of insuring that
returns from farming will be sufficient to meet
the rent on USHA-assisted dwellings, but also
for the broader purpose of improving the entire
farm economy and increasing the returns
through the use of sound and scientific farming

Other Rural Housing Programs
Get Under Way.

In addition to the six projects for which
loans have already been approved by the
President, there are a number of rural housing
developments in various parts of the country in
initial planning stages.

In the rural projects that have been planned,
the over-all costs (including the cost of land,
architectural, engineering, and administrative
costs, carrying charges, and minimum equip—
ment, as well as construction of the houses
themselves) are expected to average abOut
$2,150 per dwelling unit, ranging from less than
$2,000 in the South to about $2,600 in the North,
where climatic conditions require a more expen—
sive type of construction.

The six projects now nearing construction
will make it possible for about 1,30010w—income
farm families to cross the threshold into that
comfortable, Wholesome existence which “life
on the farm" is generally supposed to be, and
which it can, in truth, become under the public
housing program. An expanded program em-
bodying the minor modifications that have been
suggested would enable other thousands of
ill-housed families in rural America to move into
decent, safe, and sanitary new homes. Close
cooperation between the Department of Agri-



 culture and the USHA is of Vital significance in
these rehousing accivities, for the problem is
such that the resources and experience of both
agencies are necessary to its effective solution.

Tbir lmflet 1'; one af 4 rerier on variam pbam of t/Je'United Slater
Howing Ant/Earl!) program. For additional rapim of Mir leaflet,
0r far rapier of other: in t/n': Jerier, write to t/Je:

Washington, D. C.