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Letter from Senator John F. Kennedy to Mr. Larry Blackmon

September 07, 1960


Washington, DC, September 7, 1960


Post Office Box 85

Mineral Wells, Texas

DEAR LARRY: I am delighted that you have accepted my invitation to become a member of our National Committee of Business and Professional Men for the campaign. I am confident that you and others in your industry, as participants in the committee, can aid greatly in the election of a Democratic administration and Congress next November.

You may rest assured that it is my desire in the forthcoming campaign and in our new administration to place great emphasis upon the necessity for and the benefits to be gained from a high annual volume of general construction and homebuilding in the years ahead. In dollar volume and in the employment of materials and manpower the construction industry should be one of the strongest forces in the Nation's economy.

Moreover, the homebuilding industry, the largest single segment of construction, will need added strength and special attention if we are to be successful in housing our rapidly expanding population and accelerating growth in private home ownership.

Six years ago the National Association of home Builders estimated we needed an average of 2 million new or new-conditioned homes each year. Yet our present rate of production is still far below this figure. A recent Senate report concludes that during the sixties we must produce a minimum of 16 million new homes just to keep pace with our growing housing needs.

It is already clear this year that we will fall far short of meeting the housing production records of 10 years ago when we produced about 1.4 million new homes. Indeed, not once during the past 8 years of the present administration have we reached this 1950 figure, and today it is obvious that we are falling substantially behind our minimum housing requirements.

I believe that a healthy, expanding economy will enable us to build 2 million homes a year, in wholesome neighborhoods, for people of all incomes. This can and should be accomplished as completely as possible through private enterprise, using both private financing and private construction. At this rate, within a single decade we could clear away most of our slums and assure every American family a decent place to live.

All builders and businessmen in the construction industry join me, I know, in seeking "a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family." But to reach this goal it seems clear to me that we must first reverse the tight-money, high-interest-rate policy which has largely governed the supply of mortgage funds in the past 8 years.

Under this policy families in moderate circumstances are being priced out of the market for decent homes. Because of high money costs both builders and buyers are losing the benefit of new advances in housing techniques and construction methods. As quickly as possible, we should bring home-financing costs back again within reach of the millions of American working families desiring to buy homes they can afford.

I wholeheartedly endorse the statement in the Democratic platform: "Free competitive enterprise is the most creative and productive form of economic order that the world has seen. The recent slow pace of American growth is due not to the failure of our free economy but to the failure of our national leadership." Certainly a Democratic administration will provide leadership and direction toward this end at the Cabinet level, so that there may be a coordinated approach toward all decisions affecting the urban and metropolitan problems which so greatly involve homebuilding and general construction.

I look forward to working with you, Larry, and with the others in the industry helping in our campaign. I know that the assistance of builders and businessmen in the construction industry and their advice and counsel will be most helpful during the campaign and in the years ahead.

With every good wish, I am,



John F. Kennedy, Letter from Senator John F. Kennedy to Mr. Larry Blackmon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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