The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, D. C., Tuesday—Anyone who goes to the Officers' Lounge in New York—where officers are allowed to wait with their families for housing or for theatre tickets, or just plain information and advice—will be struck these days by the number of young families who have evidently just come from the train and are still busy soothing one child or another after a long and tiring trip. There the same family may be several hours later! No rooms or apartments are available for them.

Tomorrow night, the American Veterans Committee will hold a rally at Hunter College, 68th Street and Park Avenue, to call attention of the public in New York City to the acute housing situation which confronts the returning serviceman. The men, who stand in line an hour or two, are told that nothing is available, and they turn away hopelessly, feeling that New York is just an overcrowded, over-stimulated, heartless community.

It is estimated that 50,000 units will be needed in New York by next summer, and that the present crisis will grow greater each year for at least two years. What is true here is equally true of cities all over the country.

* * *

The program of the American Veterans Committee divides itself roughly into two parts that we can all try to work for. The first is to find some way of erecting temporary housing so that these people will not go through the long winter without some shelter. Temporary housing, however, must be carefully watched, since it tends to grow permanent and there are always many drawbacks which can be accepted for a short time, but with which we should not put up for long. In addition, the committee suggests the rehabilitating of old-law tenements by putting in central heating, hot water and private baths. This is an emergency measure which is perhaps necessary at the present time. But we should be very careful that these partially renovated old-law tenements are not taken from condemned lists for long, and this may not be a possible thing to do when costs are high.

I have been wondering whether the trailer camps established outside the District of Columbia might not prove useful, even though the New York climate is much colder than Washington's. I have seen outside that city a whole field set up with trailers, with sewage systems dug and the water supply adequately provided. This requires some empty space, however, within striking distance of the city; and it also probably is much harder now, on return from overseas, to put up with the inconveniences which old-law tenements and trailer living impose.

* * *

Naturally the Veterans Committee urges a long term program to accelerate new type, permanent construction, both private and public. They would support the Wagner-Ellender bill, which would provide sufficient funds for public housing. I understand that there is a surplus at present in the state treasury, and perhaps some of that money might be made available for loans to construction companies.

Everyone wants to help the serviceman. Here is one of his most important needs, and we should keep working on it until it is solved.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 24, 1945

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.