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Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Concerning Measures To Stimulate Veterans Housing Construction.

March 01, 1946

My dear Mr. Speaker:

The House of Representatives is now considering a bill of supreme importance to make it possible for veterans and their families to move out of trailers and temporary shacks and overcrowded dwellings into decent homes within their means--the kind of homes they fought and risked their lives to defend.

Everybody concerned with this problem-home builders, lenders, workers and local officials--agree unanimously that the first indispensable step to provide these homes is the breaking of materials bottlenecks and the expediting of the free flow of building materials.

At the very heart of this materials effort is the plan proposed by the Housing Expediter and approved by me to make premium payments in selected cases to producers to increase the supply of materials. The National Association of Home Builders, representing 30,000 builders and meeting this week in Chicago, has endorsed this necessity for premium payments.

These premium payments cannot be made available without immediate legislation along the lines of an amendment which I am informed has been prepared for introduction. It is for the Congress to decide whether or not it wishes to adopt this premium payment amendment. But I would be shirking my responsibility as Chief Executive if I did not make it transparently plain that, without this authorization for premium payments, the facilities do not exist within the administrative branch of the Government to make these premium payments, or otherwise to stimulate sufficiently the flow of building materials for moderate and low-priced homes for veterans. I am, therefore, bound to state the simple logical deduction of fact that the defeat of this premium payment amendment would defeat the hopes and transgress the rights of ever-increasing hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families whose housing conditions are now deplorable and are becoming increasingly acute.

This issue on premium payments is not drawn by me; it is drawn by the inescapable facts of the case.

Every Member of the Congress should know these facts when the vote is taken.

This is not, Mr. Speaker, a party issue. It is an American issue.

I feel bound to add that I deem it necessary also to authorize priority controls and allocations for veterans housing, and to adopt the amendment which I have learned has been prepared relating to price ceilings on existing homes.

Sincerely,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

Note: On May 22 the President approved the Veterans' Emergency Housing Act of 1946, "An Act to expedite the availability of housing for veterans of World War II by expediting the production and allocation of materials for housing purposes and by curbing excessive pricing of new housing, and for other purposes" (Public Law 388, 79th Cong., 60 Stat. 207). Section 11 of the act deals with premium payments.

Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Concerning Measures To Stimulate Veterans Housing Construction. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232548

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