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because of unsatisfactory housing. If he could get adequate housing, he believes it would cut his labor turnover in half and increase production 20 per cent without increasing his present force.
WASHINGTON NAVY YARD.
Report of Mr. R. P. Blake on housing needs of Sharon, Pa., dated May, 1918:
A careful analysis of the labor turnover in this district shows the lowest figure for any important plant to be about 9 per cent a month, with the highest figure 45 per cent per month, the average apparently being about 20 per cent a month, or at a rate of about 240 per cent per year.
The effect of this high labor turnover in interfering with production is most marked, and while there is no means of measuring the loss exactly, the opinions of the various plant managements interviewed on this subject are that by cutting this turnover in half, increased production of from 5 to 15 per cent could be obtained.
The extent to which the housing shortage is responsible for this turnover is also problematical, but all facts and opinions obtained agreed remarkably in showing that housing shortage is very important and probably the main cause of labor turnover. Perhaps the most definite proof of this is the fact that records obtained from about half of the plants reporting, and therefore great enough in volume to show the trend, indicate that during the past year about 2,500 men left the district because of inability to get satisfactory housing. Similar records indicate that about 2,000 men additional, after coming to Sharon, refused to go to work because of congestion.
Overcrowding existent.--No detailed survey of this condition was made, but brief and general surveys of representative districts repeatedly brought out evidence of beds being used by two shifts of sleepers, room congestion as high as an average of three or four per room per house, basements and attics used for living purposes, and houses crowded too close together for healthful and satisfactory living conditions.
Report of Mr. I. N. Phelps Stokes to Mr. Otto M. Eidlitz, Housing Committee, dated February 25, 1918:
During the past few months the turnover has increased materially, due to the increasing difficulty of securing suitable accommodations, and although the effort to secure good mechanics has been maintained, and even augmented, the net daily increase has fallen from 14 to 9. Capt. Willard and his staff are undoubtedly right in attributing this falling off mainly to the scarcity of available housing within commuting distance of the navy yard, a condition which is growing rapidly more acute.
Capt. Willard and all of the officers with whom I talked agree that unless prompt measures are taken to relieve the scarcity of housing it will be impossible for the factory to increase or even maintain its present force, as many of the new men who have come from a distance with the expectation of bringing their families to Washington later, have been unable to find accommodation and are unwilling to remain permanently without their families. Furthermore, it is the experience of the navy yard that married men living apart from their families are not so dependable or efficient as those living with their families.
THE GRAVITY OF THE PROBLEM. Estimates prepared by the Housing Corporation in the summer of 1918 indicated a need for housing for 212,733 men workers and 79,916 women workers, or altogether for 292,649 persons engaged on war contracts in 71 cities or districts. (See Vol. II, Table 1, pp. 390-393.)
There was abundant evidence, supplied or corroborated by the War and Navy Departments, that unless suitable dwellings could be provided for these workers the fulfillment of contracts indispensable to the war program would be gravely imperiled. The measures adopted to meet this emergency are outlined in the following pages.
Report of Mr. H. W. Forster, dated May 13 and 15, 1918:
Trumbull Steel Co.-A long interview with Mr. Flora, vice president; Mr. McFate, secretary; and Mr. Booth, treasurer, developed the following: This manufacturer has just completed an openhearth plant to assure his supply of steel for tinplate. He is finding it very difficult to get a full quota of men to operate his plant, now being about 600 short. If he could get and keep a full force, he could increase production 25 per cent. He is unable to get men because of lack of housing. His turnover of labor is very high
HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSING CORPORATION.
The Council of National Defense —Committee on Labor, Section on Housing-Congestion at Bridgeport-Report of Section on Housing—Advisory Commission, hearings and report—The “Ten-Day Committee”-Housing bills introduced into Congress-Establishment and organization of the Bureau of Industrial Housing and Transporta
tion-Organization of the United States Housing Corporation. Functions of the divisions:-Surveys and Statistics Division-Homes Registration and Information Division-Transportation Division-Real Estate Division-Design Divisions—Requirements Division-Construction DivisionIndustrial Relations Division-Operating Division-Legal Division--Fiscal Division and Treasury Division-Sales
Division-Adjustment Committee-Committee on Requisitioned Houses.
THE COUNCIL OF NATIONAL DEFENSE.
The direct lineage of the Bureau of Industrial Housing and Transportation of the Department of Labor may be traced to the Council of National Defense created by Congress August 26, 1916, and composed of the Secretaries of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor. To assist the Council, the President of the United States in October, 1916, appointed as an Advisory Commission:
Daniel Willard, for transportation and communication.
Howard E. Coffin, for munitions and manufacturing, including also standardization and industrial relations.
Julius Rosenwald, for supplies.
Bernard M. Baruch, for raw materials, minerals, and metals.
Dr. Hollis Godfrey, for engineering and education.
Dr. Franklin H. Martin, for medicine, surgery, and sanitation.
Samuel Gompers, for labor, including conservation of health and welfare of workers.
This council was charged with the "coordination of industries and resources for the national security and welfare" and with the creation of relations which will render possible in time of need the immediate concentration and utilization of the resources of the Nation."
together on April 2, 1917, and national subcommittees were organized on wages and hours, mediation and conciliation, welfare work, women in industry, information and statistics, press, publicity, coordination of social agencies, cost of living, and domestic economy.
At the outset it was determined that a housing committee was needed. It was organized as a part of the committee on welfare work under the chairmanship of Mr. Louis A. Coolidge, who has since served on the National Committee on Amelioration and Conciliation. It was not until May 3, 1917, however, that a chairman for this important section was secured. Mr. Gompers then appointed Mr. Philip Hiss, of New York.
Mr. Hiss made a tour of the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, visiting practically every important center where war activities were being carried on. He appointed housing representatives in many cities and formed a small central committee for action. In August a questionnaire on housing was sent out to over 200 cities. The replies indicated the need for houses in many war centers.
On the 30th of August there was held an informal conference of housing, town-planning, and architectural advisers. The information laid before this body led to the conclusion that it was practically impossible for private capital to meet the pressing demands for industrial housing as a result of the war emergency and that the Government would be forced to make funds available for housing. Permanent buildings were advocated wherever appropriate.
COMMITTEE ON LABOR-SECTION ON HOUSING.
CONGESTION AT BRIDGEPORT.
The Federal Government sought expert advice in the mobilization of industrial resources on a nationwide scale. The appointment of Mr. Gompers to deal with labor, including conservation of the health and welfare of workers, was a direct invitation to offer a practical, constructive program with reference to the living conditions of industrial war workers. With this in view, a large and representative committee on labor, appointed by Mr. Gompers, was called
At this meeting the situation at Bridgeport, Conn., was presented. It was stated that during the past two years the Bridgeport pay roll had increased at the rate of $500,000 per week. High rents were stated to be absorbing fully a quarter of this. Owing to the decline of home building after the outbreak of the European War, the city had become dangerously ment. If houses could be put under roof before Christmas, armies of workmen might be living in them by spring, and the United States could set a new standard of efficiency. To this end a survey had been made of bricks available east of the Mississippi River. In normal times the brickyards close on October 15, but it is perfectly possible to continue brickmaking much later in the season. By the use of cement, mortar brick walls may be erected even in winter weather. In spite of the abnormal demand for carpenters, there existed acute unemployment among the bricklayers.
Here, then, was a crying need for houses to shelter the workers who were absolutely necessary to carry out the war program. Here were men who could bring years of experience to the making of plans which could be drawn to fit each local problem. Here was building material avilable. Here were unemployed bricklayers ready for work. Here was building weather. It seemed to the members of the Housing Section an opportunity for effective action.
ADVISORY COMMISSION-HEARINGS AND REPORT.
congested. Practically all the Bridgeport industries were engaged in war work. Existing plants had been extended, unused plants had been rehabilitated, -and new plants had been built. In the face of this the War Department, under the pressure of the desperate need for munitions, and on the theory that new plants could succeed only in industrial centers where there was a nucleus of trained machinists, had furnished several million dollars for the erection of a machine plant to which it planned to let cost-plus contracts. With no new housing available and with existing quarters crowded far beyond the point of comfort or safety, there could be but one result. The plants working on cost-plus contracts were bound to draw labor away from those working on fixed-price contracts and thus contribute to disastrous delays in the delivery of war materials,
Bridgeport was not the only city congested by war industries. It appeared that the entire Philadelphia and Washington districts were saturated; that the vast Navy, Army, and shipping interests in the Newport News district had developed an appalling situation in the once pleasant group of towns which surround Hampton Roads.
There were signs of approaching congestion at Akron, Cleveland, and Portsmouth, Ohio; at Alton, Peoria, and Rock Island, Ill.; at Davenport, Iowa; New Brunswick, N. J.; Bethlehem, Pa., and elsewhere. The government, through its various departments, was daily locating new plants and placing new orders. The War Industries Board, created on July 28, 1917, had only just begun to function. The board had not yet been introduced to the housing problem, The Government was spending vast sums of money to house its machinery, but, consciously, not one cent to house its men. It was bidding against itself for labor, increasing the price of production, and limiting the quantity.
REPORT OF SECTION ON HOUSING. The main facts of this situation were set forth in a three-page report, supported by voluminous data, which was presented by the Section on Housing to the Welfare Committee which met in Washington on September 21, 1917. The conditions revealed by the report were so serious that the matter was laid before the Council of National Defense.
The following week (Sept. 25) a small representation from Congress was called together and Mr. Hiss again presented his findings. It was thought that there was yet time to add an appropriation to the urgent deficiency bill then in committee.
The members of the Housing Section desired to see the war preparations profit by the open building days of the autumn. Time was the essential ele
Since every day was precious, Mr. Gompers addressed a letter to the President, who referred the question to the Council of National Defense. In turn, the council requested the Advisory Commission to consider the matter. From October 3 to 6, inclusive, therefore, the commission heard testimony. Mr. Daniel Willard, chairman of the commission, in a masterly manner brought out the answers to the popular objections which must be overcome if the United States was to break past precedents.
The four days' hearings convinced the Advisory Commission that there was a shortage of houses in the war industrial centers and that this shortage was directly curtailing the production of ships and munitions. It therefore made two recommendations:
1. That the War Industries Board consider this congestion of industrial population in the placing of new war orders.
2. That the Council of National Defense appoint a committee to consider the housing question further, and that this committee be asked to report in ten days.
THE “TEN-DAY COMMITTEE.” The council thereupon appointed a committee “to investigate the problem of housing workers employed on Government contracts, to determine its extent, its relation to the war program, and, if necessary, to suggest a remedy."
Mr. Otto M. Eidlitz, civil engineer, and head of one of the largest building firms in America, was selected as chairman of the committee. With him were associated Mrs. Ralph M. Easley, chairman of this group might act as an advisory committee to that corporation in its housing operations.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BUREAU OF INDUSTRIAL
the welfare department of the National Civic Federation, Mr. T. W. Robinson, first vice president of the Illinois Steel Co., Mr. William J. Spencer, secretary, building trades department, American Federation of Labor; and Mr. Charles G. Du Bois, comptroller, American Telephone & Telegraph Co. The committee held hearings during the last half of October. Before it came representatives from companies working on war contracts, officers of chambers of commerce, and Government officials.
The mass of testimony confirmed the report of the Housing Section of September 21 in every point.
On October 31 the committee in its report declared:
(a) That lack of housing facilities is sufficiently extensive to menace the quick production of ships and war materials.
(6) That the relation to the war program is direct.
(c) That financial aid for house construction should be afforded by the Federal Government and a proper administrative agency should be created.
In the meantime Congress had adjourned. The report, therefore, was laid before the President as well as the Council of National Defense. Pending congressional action, Mr. Eidlitz was on November 12, 1917, appointed by Secretary Baker, chairman of the Council of Defense, a committee of one to confer on housing matters with the War, Navy, and Labor Departments, and the Shipping Board.
On February 12, 1918, the Secretary of Labor, in anticipation of the passage of the bill introduced into Congress on the preceding day, appointed Mr. Eidlitz the Director of Industrial Housing and Transportation of the Department of Labor.
On March 20, 1918, Mr. Eidlitz and his associates moved into the quarters at 613 G Street NW. which they occupied during the war and where, in less than six months, the nucleus of some 25 persons had grown into an organization of over 800.
The bill introduced on February 7, 1918, however, was not passed and approved until more than three months later (May 16, 1918), and it was the President, and not the Secretary of Labor, who was empowered to carry out the various provisions of the act. The urgent deficiency bill, which carried the appropriation, increased it to $60,000,000, to include $10,000,000 for housing Government employees in the District of Columbia. The appropriation act was passed June 4, 1918. Two weeks later the President by Executive order officially delegated his authority under the acts of May 16 and June 4, 1918, to the Secretary of Labor.
The desperate effort to put the American forces in the field fully equipped by the spring of 1919, and the menace of the German drive on the western front influenced Congress to grant $40,000,000 of the $196,000,000 requested by the Secretary of Labor for additional housing under the act of June 4. This act was approved July 8, 1918. On the same day the United States Housing Corporation was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York.
On July 25, 1918, funds were first made available for disbursement by the United States Housing Corporation, ten months after the first request by the Section on Housing that an appropriation of $100,000,000 be made available and less than three and a half months before the signing of the armistice.
HOUSING BILLS INTRODUCED INTO CONGRESS.
Three months later, on February 7, 1918, a bill was introduced into Congress to authorize the Secretary of Labor to provide “housing, local transportation, and other general community facilities" for industrial war workers in connection with War and Navy contracts within the limits of a $50,000,000 appropriation.
In the meantime the Shipping Board had found housing absolutely essential to the shipping program. In some instances the appropriations for shipyards were held to include housing; but in few cases were the appropriations of sufficient size to justify an adequate amount of housing. The Shipping Board, therefore, presented a bill for a $50,000,000 appropriation for shipyard housing. This was enacted into law and approved March 1, 1918, and was followed on July 1, 1918, with an additional appropriation of $25,000,000.
Mr. Eidlitz had, during December, 1917, gathered about him a small provisional organization, including the original Section on Housing of the Committee on Labor. Early in January of 1918 the Emergency Fleet Corporation assigned to Mr. Eidlitz two floors of the building at 717 Thirteenth Street in order that
ORGANIZATION OF THE BUREAU OF INDUSTRIAL
HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION.
When, on February 12, 1918, Mr. Eidlitz was appointed by Secretary Wilson as the director of housing and transportation he faced the problem of developing quickly an effective organization. There was already at hand information which demonstrated the extreme urgency of the housing problem in certain industrial cities. It was beyond question that there were alarming delays in the fulfillment of war contracts due to the difficulty of housing labor. It was therefore necessary to develop an organization of experts who could