Statement by the President Upon Signing the Housing Amendments of 1955.
I HAVE TODAY signed S. 2126, the Housing Amendments of 1955. This Act contains important provisions which were recommended by the Administration and which are needed so that the Federal Government may help private enterprise and our local communities to eliminate and prevent slums and urban blight and to provide good housing for all of our people.
The Act provides additional authority and funds for the broadened program of slum clearance and urban renewal authorized by law last year. It also continues the Federal Housing Administration's loan insurance aids, thereby enabling families of moderate income to acquire or improve their own homes. Our people benefit doubly from these measures, because they result in more and better housing and because they help to maintain a high level of employment in the construction industry and in the many other industries which supply it with materials and equipment.
The Act carries out my recommendations for enlarging and improving the present temporary program under which funds are advanced to local public agencies for the planning of their public works. Such advance planning will make it possible to begin construction as necessary. In addition, the Act provides new aid for meeting the Very urgent housing needs of military personnel and their families.
Because of these very important and desirable provisions of the Act, I have given it my approval despite several other provisions about which I have serious objections.
I had recommended to the Congress a two-year program of Federal aid to local communities for the construction of 70,000 new low-rent public housing units. Instead, the Act provides for 45,000 new units on a one-year basis. The full program which I recommended is needed, and it can be carried out by our local communities and the Federal Government in a more orderly and efficient manner over a two-year period. It is also important for the low-rent housing aids to be coordinated with the slum clearance and urban renewal aids, and for each of these types of aids to be made available by the Federal Government only to communities which have adopted workable programs for dealing with the problem of slums and urban blight in their own midst. The Act fails to make adequate provision for carrying out these objectives.
I also have serious objections to the provisions of the bill which would create still another independent agency in the executive branch by detaching the Home Loan Bank Board, including the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, from the Housing and Home Finance Agency. The primary purpose of the Home Loan Bank Board and the Insurance Corporation is to assist savings and loan associations and building and loan associations in providing funds for the purchase of homes. Such associations are now making almost 40 percent of all home loans and constitute our largest single lender group in the field of home financing. The Housing and Home Finance Agency was established to enable one accountable official, under the supervision of the President, to coordinate Federal programs designed to encourage private financing of homes with other housing and community development activities of the Government. The grant of independence for the Home Loan Bank Board is a backward step which will seriously impair such coordination and thrust an unnecessary supervisory burden on the President.
In addition, the Act makes several other changes in basic housing laws which, at best are of questionable necessity. New lending authority totaling many hundreds of millions of dollars is provided which was not recommended by the Administration and is not made subject to the normal appropriation review process. For example, the bill authorizes a greatly enlarged direct-lending program for construction of purely local public works. I believe that there was inadequate study of the appropriateness or extent of the need for this type of aid. In the matter of the college housing program, while this program has been a desirable one and its expansion was justified, the reduction made by the bill in the interest rate to an artificially low level will curtail, if not completely eliminate, the availability of private investment funds which have begun to flow toward college housing. The result will be that instead of more capital being available for this type of loan, there will be substantially less capital in the aggregate.
It is my hope that the defects in the Act will be corrected by the Congress at the earliest opportunity in the light of further study and of actual experience in its administration.
NOTE.: As enacted, S. 2126 is Public Law 345, 84th Congress (69 Stat. 635).
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Housing Amendments of 1955. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233453