John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Housing Act

June 30, 1961

I want to express our pleasure in signing S. 1922, the Housing Act of 1961. This bill is the most important and far-reaching Federal legislation in the field of housing since the enactment of the Housing Act of 1949. For the communities of the Nation, large and small, it provides an opportunity for a giant step toward better cities and improved housing. And I think the beneficial effects of this legislation will be felt by every American.

It makes available, for the first time, Federal aid to preserve rapidly disappearing open land and to improve inadequate public transportation in our growing urban and metropolitan areas. It recognizes, through a new program of low interest loans, the forgotten families--those who are ineligible for public housing on the one hand and those whose incomes will riot allow them to pay for decent housing on the other. It provides, at the same time, expanded opportunities for private industry to meet the housing needs of families of moderate income. It authorizes new tools long needed to cope with blighted housing and neighborhoods. And finally, it extends the principle of experiment and research to the problems of mass transportation and both public and private housing.

The legislation also provides greatly expanded authorizations and funds for major existing programs of assistance for housing and community development. Moreover, for key programs--mortgage insurance, urban renewal, college housing, low rent public housing, and farm housing-long term authorizations will assure continuity without the uncertainties and interruptions which have plagued these programs in the past.

These programs, old and new, offer our communities and private builders and lenders the opportunity and the challenge to build the cities of tomorrow where families can live in dignity, free from both the squalor of the slums and the unbroken monotony of suburban sprawl--in many cases of housing which is not built with an eye to the long-term development of this country.

I want to express our great thanks to the members of the committees of the Congress--the Banking and Currency Committee, Congressman Spence, Chairman--the Banking and Currency Committee of the Senate--and to also express our great appreciation to Senator Sparkman who shepherded this bill through the Senate, and to Congressman Rains who carried it on under Congressman Spence's leadership in the House.

Having this bill signed without them here is somewhat like having Hamlet played without the Prince, but we will go ahead anyway. But I did want to express our great thanks to them. They both did an extraordinary job, and I am delighted to have the Members of Congress here. Also Dr. Weaver, head of the Housing organization in the Government. And to Mrs. McGuire, head of the various sections of the Housing agency dealing with urban housing. Also Mayor Dilworth, representing the mayors of the United States, who have been extremely interested in this legislation.

Note: The Housing Act of 1961 is Public Law 87-70 (75 Stat. 149).

In his remarks, the President referred to Brent Spence, U.S. Representative from Kentucky; John J. Sparkman, U.S. Senator from Alabama; Albert Rains, U.S. Representative from Alabama; Robert C. Weaver, Administrator, Housing and Home Finance Agency; Mrs. Marie C. McGuire, Commissioner, Public Housing Administration; and Richardson Dilworth, Mayor of Philadelphia.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Signing the Housing Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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