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The President's News Conference

August 01, 1930

INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Thomas F. Woodlock, of the Interstate Commerce Commission, has resigned today. Mr. Woodlock has given very distinguished service to the Commission, and is going out into private life entirely of his own volition and much to the regret of the Commission and everyone who knows him. I have decided to appoint Mr. Charles D. Mahaffie, who is the head of the Finance Division, in his place. Mr. Mahaffie has been with the Commission for some 20 years, and while his residence is in the city of Washington, does not come from the District of Columbia.

WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON HOME BUILDING AND HOME OWNERSHIP

I am going to announce to you another commission by way of keeping going. After consultation with the leading men interested in the subject, I have decided to call a White House Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership, to take up on a nationwide scale all the problems involved in that title, to see if we can develop a better understanding of the questions involved and more coordination and cohesion amongst the institutions that are interested, with view of ameliorating some of the forces that seriously limit home building and home ownership.

The Conference will be organized by a planning committee, representative of all the leading national associations that are interested in that field. That committee, in turn, will set up subcommittees for research and determination of matters in various branches of the field. It will deal with the whole broad subject of home ownership and home planning, will embrace finance and design, equipment, city planning, transportation.

One of the most important problems, and one that most deeply affects that whole question today, is finance. The present depression has given special emphasis to the fact that the flow of finance is much less well organized than in any other of our credit fields. Commercial bills, industrial loans, installment buying, to some extent farm credits, have all very substantial reservoirs of credit which have maintained the flow of credit through this depression, but home building has been almost stifled due to the inability to secure financing. Now in order to enable the purchase of homes we must have a setup akin to installment buying which either takes a definite form through the building and loan associations, which have been most helpful, or through investments in first and second mortgages. First mortgages have long been the scene of investment of the insurance companies and the savings banks, but bonds have come in as a serious competitor of mortgage. First mortgages and second mortgages, during this depression, if we take into account the commissions and discounts and charges, have risen to from 20 to 25 percent per annum over the country. All of which has seriously limited the volume of home building and incidentally the volume of construction, and therefore have contributed to unemployment.

Now, the finance question is only one of many, and I only give it to you by way of illustration. The problems of greater comfort, better design, more economical construction, questions of city planning, better laying out of suburban areas, et cetera, all of which are of very great importance.

It is not suggested that the Conference will bring forward recommendations for legislation at all. The problem is one rather of coordination, the stimulation of private agencies, better development of ideas. There is, however, a field which the Conference will need to cover, and that is the question of State mortgage laws, which are very much behind the times in many States and as a result are very seriously limiting the credit facilities of home builders.

I have asked the heads of various important associations to act as the initial members of the planning committee, and we will give you a list of them. Dr. [John M.] Gries, who has been for several years the Chief of the Division of Building and Housing in the Department of Commerce, will act as the Executive Secretary. Secretary Lamont will act as the Chairman. The date of the Conference will be determined by the planning committee. Ample funds have been provided from private sources for the entire cost of research and incidental expenses of the Conference.

And that is all I have to tell you today.

Q. Anything about your vacation yet, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, sometime toward the end of the month.

Q. Mr. President, you didn't indicate about when that Conference will take place.

THE PRESIDENT. No--let the planning committee determine when that will come.

Note: President Hoover's one hundred and thirtieth news conference was held in the White House at 3 p.m. on Friday, August 1, 1930.

On the same day, the White House also issued a text of the President's statement on the White House Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership (see Item 250).

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211148

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