I HAVE today approved the Housing Act of 1949.
This far-reaching measure is of great significance to the welfare of the American people. It opens up the prospect of decent homes in wholesome surroundings for low-income families now living in the squalor of the slums. It equips the Federal Government, for the first time, with effective means for aiding cities in the vital task of clearing slums and rebuilding blighted areas. It authorizes a comprehensive program of housing research aimed at reducing housing costs and raising housing standards. It initiates a program to help farmers obtain better homes.
The Housing Act of 1949 also establishes as a national objective the achievement as soon as feasible of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family, and sets forth the policies to be followed in advancing toward that goal. These policies are thoroughly consistent with American ideals and traditions. They recognize and preserve local responsibility, and the primary role of private enterprise, in meeting the Nation's housing needs. But they also recognize clearly the necessity for appropriate Federal aid to supplement the resources of communities and private enterprise.
I take deep satisfaction in the successful conclusion of the long fight for this legislation. i know this satisfaction in the successful conclusion of the long fight for this legislation. I know this satisfaction is shared by the Members of Congress of both political parties, and by the many private groups and individuals, who have supported this legislation over the past 4 years against ill-founded opposition.
The task before us now is to put this legislation into operation with speed and effectiveness. That task presents a great challenge to the executive branch of the Federal Government, to local governments, and to industry and labor. While this act authorizes programs which will take a number of years to complete, in the light of the present serious needs for low-cost housing and slum clearance, and of the present period of economic transition, we should cut to a minimum the time necessary to initiate these programs.
Accordingly, I have directed the Housing and Home Finance Administrator and the Secretary of Agriculture to make special efforts to place these programs into operation as rapidly as possible. I am submitting to the Congress immediately a request for the additional appropriations which will be required in the present fiscal year.
Furthermore, since the low-rent housing and slum clearance programs depend upon local initiative, I urge State and local authorities to act speedily.
This legislation permits us to take a long step toward increasing the well-being and happiness of millions of our fellow citizens. Let us not delay in fulfilling that high purpose.