DECEMBER 21, 1943
NEW YORK, Monday—One of the newspaper girls who went with me last Friday afternoon to look at the housing conditions in Washington, asked me what the object was of my looking into the situation. Perhaps many of my readers may have the same question in mind.
I would like to say here that, in general, I consider housing basic to the well-being of any community. Health, juvenile delinquency, adult crime, all these have their roots in bad housing conditions. Housing is no new interest of mine in the District of Columbia.
When I lived here 25 years ago, Mrs. Archibald Hopkins interested Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in the condition of Washington alleys. The Senators of that day were aroused to their first action by the sight of their senatorial laundry blowing in the wind of one of these typical alley backyards.
Mrs. Hopkins was still alive when I came back to Washington in 1933, and one of the first things I did was to visit some of these alleys with her. Through the Alley Dwelling Authority, considerable constructive work has been done to eliminate bad places and to increase decent housing, but it has never gone fast enough and there have always been bad spots in the nation's capital.
The war has aggravated this condition. To do anything about it will require not only the interest of the commissioners of the local district agencies, but the full cooperation of Congress, which is fundamentally responsible for the government in the District of Columbia. However, even the Congress, without an understanding on the part of the people who live in the District, will probably not achieve rapid enough results.
The war has created situations which are dangerous to health and moral standards. We must know about these conditions if we are to remedy them. Therefore, I have decided to see with my own eyes just what they are and from time to time I shall tell you about them.
These conditions exist in the capital of the United States, and I think for that reason are of interest to the country as a whole. The capital belongs to every citizen of the United States. This is not, however, the only reason that I report to you through my column. I hope that you will realize that these conditions exist because of overcrowded centers throughout the nation. They exist in rural areas. The more you know about them, the more you will be awake to their implications if they are happening in your own home area.
Saturday and Sunday were family days in which, whenever we could, we made the President tell us about his trip. Franklin, Jr., was here also. We listened to his stories of his men and their magnificent service.