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SENATE COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY
BURNET R. MAYBANK, South Carolina, Chairman J. W. FULBRIGHT, Arkansas
HOMER E. CAPEHART, Indiana A. WILLIS ROBERTSON, Virginia
JOHN W. BRICKER, Ohio JOHN SPARKMAN, Alabama
IRVING M. IVES, New York J. ALLEN FREAR, JR., Delaware
ANDREW F. SCHOEPPEL, Kansas PAUL H. DOUGLAS, INinois
EVERETT M. DIRKSEN, Illinois
4. LEE PARSONS, Clerk
Fitzgerald, Harry, J., accompanied by Calvin K. Snyder, National
Woods, Tighe E., Director, Office of Rent Stabilization, accompanied
Graham, Thomas B., attorney, New York, N. Y.: Letter to Senator
Statement of —Continued
Court disposition of rent cases July 25, 1951, through January
Scripts for radio programs in Chicago area.
Cases from Philadelphia area
Cases from Maryland area
DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1952
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 1952
COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND Chansey D. C.
UNITED STATES SENATE,
, The committee met, pursuant to recess, at 10:30 a. m., in room 301, Senate Office Building, Senator Burnet R. Maybank (chairman) presiding
Present: Senators Maybank, Fulbright, Robertson, Sparkman, Frear, Douglas, Benton, Moody, Capehart, Bricker, Ives, Schoeppel, and Dirksen.
Also present: Senator Lehman.
Our first witness will be Mr. William Schmidt, of the Property Owners Association of America.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM SCHMIDT, PRESIDENT PROPERTY
OWNERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, PRESIDENT, PROPERTY OWNERS LEAGUE
Mr. SCHMIDT. Mr. Chairman, I am making this statement also on behalf of the American Conference of Small Businessmen.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is William Schmidt. I am president of the Property Owners Association of America. I have appeared before you on quite a few previous occasions and I thank you for the opportunity of being heard again.
I am somewhat at a loss as to what to tell you because when I think of the enormous amount of testimony that has been given you in previous years, and much of it would be convincing enough to show the fallacy of rent control. I think I would like to suggest to you today that we compare the conditions prevailing after World War I, when we did not have rent control, with the conditions since World War II, where we have enjoyed the so-called blessings of rent control. Let us look at the record.
During the period of 1920–30 rents were appreciably higher than prior to that period, but wages and salaries were in keeping with it, and most of the American people were able to find a suitable shelter by spending approximately 25 percent of their monthly income for rent. That had been a tradition for many years and had worked out pretty well all around. Between 1920 and 1930 there were constructed in the city of Chicago, for instance, a total of 300,000 new modern rental units. All of these were built with private capital without any government guaranties whatsoever.
Now, what happened after World War II, from say 1945 to 1951? The record shows that we only built a total of 15,000 new units in Chicago, that is new rental units, compared with an average of 25,000 units in a single year for a decade. True enough, the average rental today, at least the official rental, is somewhat lower. It is only $44 a month, while the average wage is $60 a week or better. On the other hand, the people of Chicago have been suffering all kinds of inconveniences and have not been able to get the housing accommodations that they would like to have.
Would it not have been far better that we had had po rent control and that we would not have discouraged all private capital from going into this industry?
The CHAIRMAN. Why did not Chicago take off rent control?
Mr. SCHMIDT. Do not blame me. I tried my darndest to have them take it off.
The CHAIRMAN. Why tell this committee that? The city of Charleston took it off.
Mr. Schmidt. The point I am trying to illustrate is what happens under rent control and what happened previously.
The Chairman. Why do you not take that to the city of Chicago?
Mr. Schmidt. I am working on that and trying to get the city of Chicago to take it up.
The CHAIRMAN. I am just giving you a suggestion on how to solve that. I do not know what the committee feels about it.
Go ahead, sir.
Mr. Schmidt. Supposing the average rental were $65 a month today and about equal to the average weekly wage, what would have happened?
Well, I, for one, am certain that we would have at least 100,000 to 150,000 new rental units occupied in the city of Chicago. Instead of that, we have seen only 15,000 of these new rental units created and we have seen an awful lot of miserable, sneak conversions, plasterboard partitions, living quarters being created in violation of the building ordinances, the health ordinances, and in violation of common sense and good business judgment. All of this has been brought about by rent control.
Gentlemen, do you not think it would be about time that you give the American people a little freedom again and let them take care of their problems the same as they have done for 150 years before we got this craze of controls on controls? We have had nothing but hardships and annoyances since we entered upon this path.
Price controls and rent controls are really a fake remedy and they never work. Probably you believe that rent control has been effective. Well, let us look at the record. Last year you put a 20-percent increase in the law. That meant that every unit was entitled to an increase in rent, even those that had previously received a so-called voluntary increase for 15 percent were entitled to an additional 5 percent.
Now, it is strange to notice that in the city of Chicago where we have at least 800,000 rental units under the jurisdiction of the Office of Price Stabilization, there are to date only about 230,000 applications received, and somewhat less than 200,000 of these have been processed. Well, what is the explanation for that phenomenon?
I, for one, can only come to the conclusion that if the owners of approximately 600,000 units do not take advantage of the fact that they can make an application for an increase of at least 5 percent,