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May 16. The purpose of incorporation was primarily to facilitate the acquisition of land, the purchase of materials, and the construction of houses. Upon the establishment of the United States Housing Corporation on July 8, 1918, the director of the Housing Bureau became its president, the assistant director was appointed vice president, the general manager of the bureau became its secretary, and the treasurer became the treasurer of the corporation. Subsequently the chief counsel of the bureau was made secretary of the corporation. At the outset the corporation had seven directors, which number was later increased to nine. The Housing Bureau was continued and its personnel was identical with that employed by the corporation.
FUNCTIONS OF THE DIVISIONS.
SURVEYS AND STATISTICS DIVISION.
ascertain the nature, extent, and relative urgency of the housing needs of the different cities requesting aid; who could develop methods of utilizing to a maximum the existing housing of such communities; who could extend the transportation facilities, purchase real estate, design practical houses and villages, arrange for the provision of the necessary municipal utilities and for the construction of dwellings with maximum speed.
A plan of organization was prepared in detail by Joseph D. Leland, 3d, the assistant director of the bureau, which proved to be admirably adapted to its needs. This plan provided for the general service of the bureau-a Legal Division, a Fiscal Division, a general file, supply, and stenographic section (which subsequently developed into the Service Division), a Reference Library and Publication Division (which subsequently became the Homes Registration and Information Division). For special services preceding construction there were developed the Preliminary Investigations Division, the Statistics Division (these two being combined subsequently into the Division of Surveys and Statistics), the Real Estate and Commandeering Division, and the Transportation Division. For the purposes of design and construction there was created the Production Division, which was later subdivided into the Architectural, the Town-Planning, the Engineering, the Construction, and the Estimating Divisions (this later became known as the Requirements Division). For special service during and after construction the Industrial Relations Division and the Operating Division were established.
The three Design Divisions and Construction Division reported through the general manager to the director; the other divisions reported directly to the assistant director or the director. In addition to the above organization, there was an executive secretary, who kept records of all orders and decisions, and an Assistant to the Secretary of Labor, who was assigned to the Housing Bureau to coordinate the policies of this bureau with other branches of the Department of Labor.
Associate directors of the Bureau of Industrial Housing, representing the War and the Navy Departments, sat in the conferences, which heard reports of preliminary investigations and determined the allotments and the number and type of houses to be constructed in each project.
The Preliminary Investigations Division was one of the first established. It sent field agents to the cities or industries which reported that their war contracts were delayed because of shortage of housing. These field agents consulted with the local representatives of Government departments, with the manufacturers engaged in war industries, with the chambers of commerce, real-estate boards, the mayors of cities and other public officials, with welfare organizations, and with workmen and their families, in order to determine the nature and extent of the need-whether the shortage of housing did actually interfere with the fulfillment of the war contracts and whether or not the local housing problem could be met by other means than house construction.
The Statistics Division meanwhile sent detailed questionnaires to local manufacturers inquiring particularly concerning the number and proportion of skilled and unskilled, male and female, married and unmarried employees, and the expected increases of each group. The statistics also covered the value and nature of output, wages and the proportion of the personnel which was engaged on war contracts. The sort of housing required by employees was ascertained together with the correlation between labor turnover and the available housing.
At the same time a questionnaire was sent to community organizations and local officials to secure an estimate of the available housing of the community.
In August, 1918, the Preliminary Investigations and Statistics Divisions were eliminated and a new Division of Surveys and Statistics was established. This latter division, though including all of the functions of the two divisions above mentioned in more elaborate form, was designed further to make a complete industrial and housing canvass of cities in which there were factories handling war contracts. This was in order that it might discover how much local labor was being utilized on war industries and how much on less essential industries, it being the intention of the War Industries Board, in view of this information, to devise means to transfer labor from less essential to the more essential industries. This division furthermore prepared detailed reports concerning the amount of available housing in cities having war contracts in order to inform the War and Navy Departments of the condition of these cities, so that they might place future contracts in communities in which production would not be hampered by lack of housing facilities. (See Appendix IV.)
ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSING
By an amendment to the housing act approved June 4, 1918, authority was given to form a corporation to carry out the powers conferred by the act of
HOMES REGISTRATION AND INFORMATION DIVISION. The Reference Library and Publications Division was established May 1, 1918, to keep the records of the surveys conducted
REAL ESTATE DIVISION.
The Real Estate and Commandeering Division was charged with the investigation of industrial communities to discover available plots of land suitable for proposed Government construction, to ascertain general values in advance of publicity, and to arrange for competent appraisals. It was also responsible for negotiating the purchase of parcels of land selected by the corporation. Land was usually acquired by purchase, but where necessary for speed or to protect the Government's interest it was taken by requisition. Appraisals of sites under consideration were secured from the mayor, the tax assessor, the real estate board, the chamber of commerce, the board of trade, and the Rotary Club. Vacant house property was also purchased, leased, or requisitioned through this division. (See Vol. I, Appendix VII.)
by the divisions above mentioned and of the stage of progress in each of the projects handled by the bureau. Reports and conferences pertaining to surveys, land negotiation, design, and construction, together with a digest of all important letters pertaining to a given project, were assembled together in the form of project books, of which there were several copies for each project, and were maintained by this division for the use of the office staff of the corporation. It was thus possible as a project progressed for each new division concerned to inform itself concerning the previous negotiations and the status of the project. Such information was very important for adequate treatment of new questions as they came up.
A reference library was also maintained by this division with essential reference handbooks and other important literature on housing and related subjects. Although the collection of the library was kept small, it maintained a comprehensive catalogue through which it was possible for it to secure reading references on any given phase of this subject, and the books, reports, periodicals, or maps requested were borrowed from the Library of Congress for the use of members of the Housing Corporation. Digests were made of important articles appearing in current periodicals on the subject of housing and copies sent to those divisions most concerned. By centralizing the information service in this manner an immense amount of time was saved to members of the corporation.
In June, 1918, this division was eliminated and its functions were taken over by the Homes Registration and Information Division. In addition to the above-mentioned functions, the Homes Registration Division conducted vacancy canvasses in each of the industrial communities called to the attention of the Housing Corporation by the War or Navy Department, and wherever necessary established registries of rooms, flats, and houses for the use of employees of the local war industries. The records of the vacancy canvasses were also submitted to the Transportation Division in instances where there was a probability that the vacancies so discovered could be utilized more advantageously in case transportation arrangements were improved. Records of such vacancies were also transmitted to the War Industries Board and to the War and Navy Departments and were utilized to influence the placing of future contracts as well as the amount and type of dwellings to be constructed. Local committees on rent profiteering were also established in cooperation with the Council of Defense.
The publications of the Housing Corporation were edited or passed upon by this division. (See Vol. I, Appendix V.)
The Architectural Division, the Town Planning Division, and the Engineering Division prepared the plans for the various housing developments. Representatives of these three divisions, in conjunction with representatives of the Real Estate Division. recommended the sites to be selected and the number of houses of each type to be constructed by the Housing Corporation at each of its projects. The Architectural Division was primarily responsible for house plans and standards; the Town Planning Division for site plans, lay-out of streets, blocks and lots, location of stores, schools, other public buildings and playgrounds; and the Engineering Division for the planning for water supply, sewerage, drainage, electric and gas lighting, street paving, fire protection, and the general extension of municipal utilities to the communities constructed by the Housing Corporation. The Engineering Division was also charged with making negotiations with municipalities and utility corporations for necessary services for lighting, water „supply, etc., and for making loans where necessary for this purpose. (See Vol. I, Appendix X.)
The architectural, town planning, and engineering firms employed by the Housing Corporation to design the houses, sites, and utilities reported to and were instructed and supervised by these three divisions. (See Vol. I, Appendices VIII, IX, and X, and particularly Vol. II, which describes in detail the work of these three divisions.)
The Transportation Division was established in accordance with the act of May 16, 1918, for the purpose of improving existing transportation facilities and creating new transportation facilities for industrial workers. In many communities there were vacant houses which could be used by industrial workers provided arrangements for transporting these workmen from their industry to their homes could be devised.
The work of this division comprised the investigation of transportation conditions in congested industrial communities to see if the problem of housing labor could be solved through new or improved transportation service—the rearrangement of train schedules, the improvement of existing steam and electric railway systems, the financing of electric railway extensions, or the installation of special train service. After such investigation steps were taken to improve transportation where needed, by advice, priorities and by loans at 5 per cent interest for the extension of roads and the purchase of equipment. (See Vol. I, Appendix VI.)
The Requirements Division coordinated the work of the Design Divisions and the Construction Division by securing and distributing information concerning the use, cost, and availability of building materials; by analyzing, estimating, and checking the cost of projects; and by preparing in advance lists of materials which it would be necessary to purchase and to transport. For the above purposes it maintained a materials information section, which worked in conjunction with the building materials section of the War Industries Board, and an estimating section. In addition there was a private housing project section, which investigated private applications for Federal licenses to construct houses for war workers, and determined whether such licenses should be granted, authority having been granted this section to make final recommendation to the non-war construction section of the War Industries Board for the granting of such licenses. (See Vol. I, Appendix XI, and Vol. II, p. 67, and Appendix II.)
The Construction Division was charged with the actual building of houses and estates which had been designed under the direction of the Architectural, Town Planning, and Engineering Divisions and voted by the executive staff. It consisted of the contract
branch, the materials procurement branch (in which there was a requisition section for securing materials by requisition), a procurement section for the procurement of materials ordered, a traffic section to promote speedy delivery of materials, and a priority section (to obtain priorities for materials and transportation)
In this division were placed the traveling supervisors and the project managers and works superintendents, who promoted, coordinated, and supervised the work of the contractors employed by the Housing Corporation. In this division, also, was the cost reports branch, established to keep accurate records of the progress and cost of the work on each project, in order to check the performance of the contractor and to promote speedy and economical construction. (See Vol. I, Chap. V, and Appendix XII.)
requirements of section 6 of the act of May 16, 1918. It comprised the auditing and accounting sections in charge of the comptroller, who was charged with the auditing and recording of all payments and accounts. Traveling auditors and field auditors for each project reported through the general auditor to the comptroller. The treasurer's office was responsible for all cash receipts and for the payment of audited vouchers, for the preparation of schedules of disbursements, and for the direction of the work of the disbursing officers in the field. (See Vol. I, Appendices XVIII and XIX.)
The chief clerk of the Housing Corporation, in charge of supplies, the general files, the mailing, and general stenographic service, originally reported to the Fiscal Division. On July 9, 1918, this service was separated and was subsequently known as the Service Division.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS DIVISION.
The purpose of this division was to take care of labor problems on the housing projects, to deal with questions of wages, hours of work, and with questions of health and recreation of the employees of the corporation, of the contractors, and of the employees of war industries living in temporary quarters provided by the Housing Corporation. It maintained a corps of special representatives to examine conditions of labor, investigate complaints, improve living conditions of labor, and adjust disputes. (See Vol. I, Appendix XIII.)
Upon the signing of the armistice, the abandonment of 54 projects and the curtailment of 15 others left an immense amount of material in the hands of the Housing Corporation. Some of these materials could be transferred to continuing projects, but it was necessary to store the remaining material or protect it from the elements and to sell it at the best available prices. A sales branch was therefore established in the Construction Division to handle the storage and sale of this material. This branch was made a division of the Housing Corporation on June 30, 1919, and the office of custodian of salvaged property was created on June 15, 1919. The custodian took charge of all dead projects and of all surplus materials, except such as were turned over to the Operating Division. (See Vol. I, Chap. VII and Appendix XXIII.)
The Operating Division was established in June, 1918, in order to examine the plans for housing projects with reference to the operating point of view and to make constructive criticisms of such plans with reference to their knowledge of the habits of living of the industrial classes. This division was charged also with the purchase of furniture and equipment for dormitories, hotels, and cafeterias. The ultimate work of this division was, however, to manage the estates constructed by the Housing Corporation and to arrange for a rental policy and a plan of operation which would protect the Government's investment and at the same time promote the efficiency of the tenants. The usual duties of a real estate agent in the management of property were assigned to this division, for the properties of varying sizes and types, scattered from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and from Maine to Virginia.
In addition to its function as real estate agent, it was, as a Federal agency, charged with the maintenance of conditions at a standard of healthfulness and civic well-being consistent with the dignity and responsibility of the Federal Government. (See Vol. I, chap. VI, and Appendix XIV.)
The Government hotels for women war workers in Washington were managed at first under the direction of the Operating Division. In February, 1919, the manager of these hotels was instructed to report direct to the vice president of the corporation. (See Vol. I, Appendix XV.)
The cancellation and curtailment of contracts immediately following the armistice made necessary the establishment of a branch of the Housing Corporation to adjust the claims of contractors and vendors arising out of the cancellation of work. A committee was therefore formed, consisting of the manager of the Requirements Division, the assistant to the general manager, the general supervisor, the chief of the contract section, the treasurer, and the contract adviser. This committee was reorganized on March 1, 1919, with representatives of the Requirements and Construction Divisions. To this committee was also assigned the adjustment of claims on projects upon which work was proceeding but where the contractors claimed additional remuneration due to changes in kind and amount of work involved. Contractors appeared before this committee, and the committee in turn submitted its recommendation, reasons, and evidence to the executive committee, which in turn submitted their recommendations to the board of directors of the Housing Corporation for approval. (See Vol. I, Chap. VII and Appendix XXIII.)
COMMITTEE ON REQUISITIONED HOUSES.
The work of the Legal Division was largely advisory on matters of policy and procedure. It handled legal details of real estate purchases and requisitions, of transportation and utility loans, and the preparation of deeds, contracts, and le.ses. (See Vol. 1, Appendix XX.)
In the late summer of 1918 a special committee, consisting of the managers of the Homes Registration and Information Division, the Real Estate and Commandeering Division, and the Operating Division, was established to investigate the vacant dwellings in Washington and to requisition the use of such property for the period of the war, subject to the approval of the president of the corporation and the Secretary of Labor. Properties requisitioned were either released to owners, under restrictions requiring their use by war workers, or were leased to persons who would utilize the rooms in accordance with the instructions from the committee, or were operated by the Housing Corporation through the office of the Washington Division of the Homes Registration Service. (See Appendices XVI and XVII.)
FISCAL DIVISION AND TREASURY DIVISION.
The Fiscal Division was established to record and control the financial transactions of the Housing Bureau and of the Housing Corporation, to maintain special records and to comply with the
Preliminary work of Housing Bureau—Temporary versus permanent construction-Standards of Housing-Government loans to private building companies versus Government construction-Real Estate Division plan-Criticisms of the Real Estate plan-Government loans to local housing companies—Criticism of company plan by defenders of Real Estate plan–Objections of the Real Estate Division considered—Defense of the local housing company planReason for abandonment of this plan-Adoption of plan of Government construction and operation Policy with
reference to investigations.
PRELIMINARY WORK OF HOUSING BUREAU.
TEMPORARY VERSUS PERMANENT CONSTRUCTION.
During the five months which had elapsed between the establishment of the Bureau of Industrial Housing and the time when the United States Housing Corporation was formed and provided with money to invest in house construction much important work was accomplished. Funds had been made available by President Wilson on March 12, 1918, from the sum which Congress had placed at his disposal for national security and defense. From this sum $60,000 was allotted to the Secretary of Labor to get together an administrative force and undertake preliminary work. Further funds were loaned by the Navy Department to the Housing Bureau to make investigations and draw plans for the more urgent Navy projects.
By means of this financial assistance it was possible to get together a small staff of experts. Men were drawn from all over the country who were acknowledged leaders in the fields of real estate, architecture, engineering, town planning, construction, transportation, and other branches of housing science and practice. They set to work to make investigations of the housing needs of communities and of war industries requesting assistance; to prepare tentative allotments to those communities which demonstrated the most imperative need of assistance; to draw up standard house plans and instructions for architects, engineers, town planners, and contractors; to employ architects to draw plans for housing projects, the urgency of which had been certified to by the War or Navy Departments; to frame contract forms and to draw up a tentative policy with reference to methods of finance and operation.
It was therefore possible, by the time that the $60,000,000 fund was made available and the Housing Corporation was established, to let contracts almost immediately for the construction of houses in those communities where there was the greatest need.
The first essential was to determine the mode of housing the industrial workers. The policy of housing them in barracks, like soldiers, seemed inadvisable, inasmuch as their specialized indoor work did not produce the same physical hardihood as is found in military men nor were they in any sense under discipline. The extension of the draft was rapidly removing young physically fit industrial workers, leaving married men who were older or men who were unable to meet the physical requirements of the draft, to engage in industrial operations. It was decided that such of these men as were unmarried could be housed in dormitories of temporary construction, provided they were built with individual sleeping rooms and properly equipped with common rooms to provide for physical recuperation after the excessively long working day which was forced by the war emergency. It was reported, however, by manufacturers from many parts of the country that it was quite impossible to hold married skilled workers, even in the best-equipped dormitories. For this latter group the building of houses was necessary in order that the men might establish their homes in the industrial centers. In no other way could discontent and a high labor turnover be overcome.
The next essential was to determine whether family houses built by the Government for war purposes should be of temporary or permanent construction. This was a question upon which there was at first a considerable variety of opinion. The arguments for temporary construction were, chiefly, that it was a quick form of construction, relatively inexpensive, and was likely to be adequate for housing purposes during the period in which we would probably be at war.
Attention was called to the fact, however, that buildings of temporary construction deteriorated very