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residence halls pay $45 a month for a room and two meals on work days and three meals on Sunday.
The resident units are designed to provide a maximum number of small single rooms supplied with running water, and having convenient access to bathrooms. There are general living rooms in each unit where guests may be received. The management is composed of trained specialists and the aim is to provide at a minimum expense comfortable living conditions for Government workers.
Disposition of materials.—Since the armistice, the major work of the Housing Corporation has consisted, first, in the completion of the houses in communities in which it had undertaken to build and in the operation of these houses when they have become ready for occupancy. The next most important function of the corporation has been to dispose of materials the curtailment of projects had rendered useless, and in the adjustment of claims against the corporation for damages incurred through the cancellation of contracts.
Reduction of personnel.-Coincident with the process of cancellation and salvage it was possible to eliminate the Division of Surveys and Statistics in the month of November and the Requirements Division in February, and to make continuous reductions in the personnel of each of the other divisions. On June 30, the Homes Registration and Information Division, the Industrial Relations Division, and the Town Planning Division were closed down. The Engineering Division was closed on the same date, and a small staff of engineers was transferred to the Construction Division to supervise the completion of street paving and public utilities and look after loans made to the municipalities. The Transportation Division has similarly curtailed its staff, but is forced to retain some men to supervise the loans and construction contracts for which it is responsible. The Committee on Requisitioned Houses turned over its work to the Operating Division on June 30, 1919. It had already returned to the owners all but 12 of the 141 properties requisitioned, without having incurred any damage suit. All of the houses which had been operated by the committee are now closed, those retained being leased to persons to provide rooms for war workers, subject to the supervision of the corporation and at a rental which is in no case less than the rental paid for the property by the corporation to the owner. In many instances the rental provides a return which not only meets fixed charges but is amortizing the expenditures previously made for repairs. The Real Estate Division is completing
. its negotiations for the sale of properties acquired which are no longer needed.
Cancellation and modification of contracts. The cancellation and modification of contracts has been handled through the contract
branch of the Construction Division. By May 19, 1919, construction contracts to the extent of $4,517,897.92 had been substantially completed, work was proceeding on contracts to the amount of $27,843,226; contracts to the value of $25,111,794.79 had been canceled at an approximate final cost of $5,224,477.81. There were canceled without loss projects to the value of $5,706,614.27, and projects to the value of $275,000 were taken over by the Army. Contracts amounting originally to $63,454,532.98 had been reduced since the armistice to a final cost of $40,782,288.43, after all necessary allowance has been made for additional costs on the continuing contracts.
Adjustment of claims.-By May 19, 1919, the committee on adjustments had acted on claims of 36 different project cities, in addition to miscellaneous claims amounting to $778,159.90. It had settled claims amounting to $1,902,730.33 for the sum of $1,146,641.32, representing a total saving of $756,089.01.
PREPARATION OF THE FINAL REPORT.
In the process of planning and building houses in 26 different American cities, the United States Housing Corporation has gathered together from a variety of professions men possessing expert knowledge in their particular fields. These men before leaving the service of the corporation were asked to prepare statements of the more important phases of their work, which have been assembled and edited for the "final report to Congress covering in detail all the operations and transactions, under and by virtue of the terms of this act” which the Housing Corporation is required to submit "immediately after the declaration of peace.
The volume containing illustrations of the work of the Design Divisions with brief descriptive statement was prepared early while the persons who had directed these important activities were still with the Housing Corporation. These persons have in practically all instances now left the service of the corporation, and this volume has already been printed.
Disposal of the records of the Housing Corporation. The large number of daily inquiries received by the United States Housing Corporation for information on varied aspects of this comprehensive subject have convinced the directors of this corporation that some permanent provision should be made by the Federal Government for the utilization of the materials and the information which have been collected by the Housing Corporation and other branches of the Government which have been charged with work in this field. The almost universal shortage of housing accommodations has led to an exceptional amount of interest in this field, and has brought the subject intimately home to every chamber of commerce, manufacturers' association, and real estate board. It is apparent that the materials on this subject gathered for an emergency purpose should not be stored in some out of the way place, but that they should be rendered available for the service of the home builders of America.
COMMISSION ON LIVING CONDITIONS.
Origin and function. The Commission on Living Conditions of war workers was appointed by the Secretary of Labor during October, 1918. Its members were: Mr. John R. Richards, Mr. J. Horace McFarland, Mrs. Eva W. White, Mr. John A. Voll, and Miss Edith Rockwood. The function of the commission was to learn where bad living conditions were a factor in retarding war production and to devise ways and means of improving such conditions.
History.—The first meeting of the commission was held on October 21, 1918. Immediately following the organization of the commission conferences were held with officials of the War Department, United States Housing Corporation, and other Government agencies for the purpose of making a preliminary survey. It was found as a result of this survey that recreation was one of the serious lacks in war industries centers. After consultation many organizations were interested in this subject. The Playground and Recreation Association of America was accordingly asked to undertake the coordination and stimulation of local agencies in communities in which large numbers of war workers were housed to meet the social recreational needs of the workers. As a result of conditions discovered by a survey of 31 cities, the War Workers' Community Service was organized in 30 of them. The limits of this report with regard to space preclude a detailed account of these activities. The best evidence of their value, however, is the desire for their continuance shown by the local communities.
Late in October reports reached the Department of Labor that Porto Ricans brought over by the Employment Service of the Department to work on construction of Army cantonments were not receiving fair treatment.
A personal investigation made by a properly authorized officer of the commission revealed the fact that Porto Ricans at Camp Bragg had been unintelligently supervised and unfairly treated. At Camp Jackson, S. C., on the other hand, conditions were good. Upon the basis of these investigations steps were taken by the War Department to provide transportation for those who wished to go home and to improve the conditions of those who chose to remain.
Special work in Washington.—The excessive increase in the population of Washington, D. C., created an extremely serious situation during the winter which was only in part relieved by the exodus following the armistice. The Commission on Living Conditions was largely instrumental in securing the reopening of the Emergency Hospital to care for war workers suffering from influenza after the first epidemic had passed. Great assistance was given the War Camp
. Community Service in its preparation to care for recreational needs of Government employees. The National Recreation League was aided during the winter and was finally placed upon a firm basis by affiliation with the Federal Employees' Union. At the suggestion of the Commission on Living Conditions the Federal Social Service Workers were organized for the purpose of studying the working and living conditions of Government employees. Their first joint action was the presentation to the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds of the House of Representatives of the need for Government hotels in Washington. Sentiment at that time was strongly for the abandonment of those projects, but the hearing resulted in the decision to complete and operate the buildings.
The Community Service.-As it was desirable to learn what services the Federal Government offered to communities, the commission had periodical conferences with representatives of the Bureau of Education, the States Relations Service, the Bureau of Markets, the Children's Bureau, and many other Government agencies which did work of a community character. The purpose of these conferences was to arrange a method by which the commission might solve the particular problems of communities without setting up a machinery of its own but by the assistance of already existing governmental facilities which needed only to be extended. Through the commission the city of Harrisburg was assisted in organizing a homes registration service to aid in the acute housing situation which became apparent after the
In addition, on consultation with the commission, a bill was passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature which provided for an increased use of school buildings for community purposes.
Postwar activities.—The signing of the armistice necessarily changed the plans of the Commission on Living Conditions. Thereafter more attention was given to the formulating of national policies relating to housing and living conditions and relatively less to the concrete problems of particular places. Among the more important matters which received its attention was the attempt to unify the housing policies of the various governmental bodies which were building homes. Frequent consulations were held with officials of the United States Housing Corporation, the Emergency Fleet Corporation, and the War Department Ordance Bureau in relation to the completion, operation, and disposal of the properties under the jurisdiction of those bodies.
In January a conference was called to see whether the three agencies could not a find means of developing a single housing policy to be applied to all properties of the Government. No common basis,
however, could be found upon which the Emergency Fleet Corporation could work with the United States Housing Corporation. The War Department, however, agreed to assign its permanent properties to the United States Housing Corporation for operation and disposal.
The conclusion of the commission, with regard to the completion, operation, and disposal of the Goverment's housing and transportation properties are embodied in the "Program of Disposition of War Housing and Transportation Properties of the United States Government and for the Promotion of Community Housing Service after the War.” This was prepared at my request for submission to the President of the United States.
Finances.—The Commission on Living Conditions was an adjunct to the United States Housing Corporation and financed by that body. It received an allotment from the housing funds of $25,000. Of this, $20,798.47 was expended, leaving an unexpended balance of $4,201.53, which was returned at the end of the fical
WORKING CONDITIONS SERVICE.
Origin and functions.—The sundry civil appropriations act for 191819 carried an appropriation of $45,000 to "enable the Secretary of Labor during the present emergency to carry on the work of war labor administration, including the working conditions of wage earners in the most essential war industries.” This was in general compliance with the President's memorandum six months earlier which directed the Secretary of Labor to set up “machinery for safeguarding conditions of labor in the production of war essentials." Authority for performance of this function had existed, however, since the organization of the Department itself and is found in the organic act of the Department, which directs the Secretary of Labor to improve the working conditions of wage earners throughout the United States. The service was organized on July 1, 1918. More specifically, its duties were to examine into the matter of working conditions in war industries, to determine standards as to conditions which should be maintained in those industries, to adopt rules embodying such standards and explaining them, to determine the best means of securing the adoption and maintenance of such standards, and to cooperate with State authorities for the above purposes. The experience of the allies had demonstrated that a service of this kind was essential in order to secure the largest possible output in munitions
Where no supervisory power over conditions of labor was exercised, health precautions were disregarded and the hours of labor extended, with a consequent reduction in health and efficiency. In the United States, it is true, the laws of the States provide certain standards of working conditions. The laws, however, were not uniform among the States and had in general been adapted to peace industries.