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Public War Housing


This article appeared in the City of Dayton Annual Report for 1943


Public War Housing

By Charlton D. Putnam
Director, Metropolitan Housing Authority

     In the contribution submitted by the Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority to the 1942 Annual Report of the City of Dayton, it was pointed out that for the duration of the war this Authority was temporarily converting some of its permanent projects to the use of war workers and was cooperating with the Federal Government in the development of a number of temporary war housing projects in this area. This program has been greatly expanded during the current year because of the continuous demand for housing from those people who have come to this community to work in our many industrial plants and at the air fields. The satisfying of this demand is being accomplished both by private builders and the Federal Government. It would seem to be unwise from the viewpoint of the welfare of this community, for all of the building to be done by private interest, as it is inevitable that many of the people that have come into Dayton will leave at the termination of the war, and if private builders had completely satisfied this demand there would be an excess of residential property which would have a detrimental effect upon property values. The government building is temporary in nature, uses less critical materials than private building, and can readily be demolished to bring about a balance between supply and demand.

     In the interest of speed and efficiency the Federal Public Housing Authority constructs these war housing projects and then leases them to this Authority for operation. This plan eliminates the necessity of establishing a Federal management office in this city, whose activity would parallel that of the local Authority. Substantial progress has been made by private builders and the public construction in meeting the demand for housing; but as of this date there still exists a real shortage of reasonably decent housing and many workers are living in deplorable conditions. Several projects have been constructed within the city to care for both white and negro families, a project has been built at Vandalia for the employes of the Modification Center; another has been constructed at Moraine for people employed in the nearby Frigidaire plant, and one is under construction at Riverside for civilian workers at Wright Field. There has been a shortage of room suitable for single girls and, consequently, two dormitory projects have been constructed to care for both white and negro girls, one in lover Riverdale, along the river, and the other on South Summit street.
     The rents charged in all these projects are on the basis of the fair market value for the accommodations and there is no subsidy contemplated in the war housing program. With this plan in mind, Congress has provided that the Government shall pay the equivalent of taxes to the local public agencies which provide the usual municipal services to the tenants living in these projects. Such payments have already been made for the earlier projects and other payments will follow in due course for the remainder.
     In some localities where the existing schools have inadequate facilities to care for the substantial increase in enrollment, caused by these public housing projects, the Federal Government has provided for the construction of new buildings in cooperation with the Board of Education in that area, and sometimes with the latter making a financial contribution toward the cost of the new building.

     The Dayton Board of Education sponsored and had in operation a number of Nursery Schools for the care of children whose mothers are employed in war industries. This program has for its purpose the utilization of mothers in this area who are glad of the opportunity to assist in the war effort if their children can be properly cared for. The cost of operating this program is borne by fees charged for the service and contributions from the Federal Works Agency and the Dayton War Chest. In two of its permanent projects, this Authority has made space available for two such schools and in some of the war housing projects there has been provided space which can be utilized when necessary arrangements are made.

     By the end of this year, it is hoped that all of the projects programmed will be substantially completed and that this supply, together with the substantial amount of private building under way, will be sufficient to largely meet the demand which exists for war housing.