Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:
I am pleased today to approve the Housing Act of 1964• I believe that we have a commitment to assure every American an opportunity to live in a decent home, in a safe and a decent neighborhood.
This milestone measure will help us to honor that commitment. This bill carries forward our continuing efforts to eradicate slums and blight in our cities; to assure decent housing for those least able to find it--the poor, the elderly, the severely handicapped-and those in our rural areas; to help our communities grow in orderly directions and avoid future blight and assure lasting beauty.
This bill does more than to continue the successful programs that we have had in operation in the past. It provides new support for greater success in the future. The plight of property owners in urban renewal areas is recognized in this measure. Provision is made so that they can rehabilitate their homes and businesses instead of having to move from the path of the bulldozers.
Looking ahead, this measure assists local communities in enforcing housing codes so blight does not develop or persist in the future. It also provides for training local urban development administrators and to produce the city planners that we shall need in the future to guide in the growth that we expect.
This is by no means a bill just for the cities of America alone. A key new program provides for the construction of low-cost rental housing for our farmworkers in the Nation. This is a most needed and a most welcome step.
Nor is this bill a bill solely for the housing of those that are in unfortunate circumstances. It provides expanded benefits to builders and to lenders, and to families in good circumstances.
By every standard we think this bill benefits all Americans, and if we are to continue to keep our commitments in the world, then I believe it is fundamental that we must consider keeping our commitments here at home. And that is what we are trying to do with this legislation.
For our generation, courage is not confined to meeting the challenges faraway from us. Courage is also required to meet the problems and the obligations and the challenges that are nearest to us.
This Congress deserves, I believe, very special commendation for the foresight and the courage that it has shown in meeting our problems here at home and in our own country, with our own people. The Urban Mass Transportation Act, the highway aid bill, the Hill-Burton extension, the many education measures all represent, together, the most constructive attack by any Congress on the challenge of keeping America fit and a fine place for our families.
I believe it is noteworthy that all of these programs represent a new spirit of cooperation between the Federal and the State and local governments; likewise, I think it is significant that a strong spirit of trust between the public sector and the private sector is present. We reject the thought of our families living in a faceless, regimented, monotonous America. We intend to preserve the role of private enterprise, the force of private initiative, and the right of private choice in our life as free men.
May I express my very special congratulations this morning to both Senator Sparkman and Congressman Rains of Alabama. Certainly for Albert Rains this Housing Act of 1964 is a crowning achievement for a highly constructive career of great public service. I know that I express the thought of all of us when I say we regret that he has not chosen to run again for the Congress. We do hope that he will see fit to honor us in other fields of public service in the years ahead.
I want to thank all the Members of the Congress who have come here this morning, and applaud their efforts in passing this most constructive and helpful piece of legislation that is designed to benefit all Americans.