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Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches

Speech for New York Housing Authority, Part 1

December 3, 1936


Speech at opening of subsidized low income housing at Avenue A and Third Street, New York City

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[clears throat] Governor Lehman, Mayor LaGuardia, , , members of the Housing Authority, we are here today to rejoice over the beginning, which has been made in the great city of New York, to provide Americans [microphone feedback] these homes in which it is possible to live decently. I am glad that my husband sent his telegram but I also wish to bring you a personal message from him. Because when I left him, he asked me to say that he sended his good wishes and thanks to those who had completed these first houses but especially his wishes for the future of those who were going to live in these houses.


We have got to face the fact that in this country, both in cities and in certain rural areas, there are many people housed in a manner not only costly to them but costly to us as tax payers. They pay for shelter, which can never be converted into a home and because of the existence of such housing conditions we have paid for disease and crime. The cost to the citizens of the city, state, and nation is greater than we can realize. We hope that there is dawning in this country an era when private capital will devote itself to the building of better housing and cheaper housing for vast numbers of people. But we know that the government will probably have to continue to build for the lower income group. This may be a new departure for us but we also know that many other governments have been doing this for a long time successfully. We rejoice here today in the sunshine and air which makes these buildings healthful, in the safe playground which will be provided for children. But this is only a beginning; projects of this kind must go on all over the United States. They will not, however, go on unless these first projects are proved successful, not only in the way that they are built, but by the tenants who are going to occupy them. The government does its share in the building and for the first time the rentals are within the reach of the people who formally lived in this area. Now the question to be answered is: will the tenants do their part to make this great enterprise successful? You know and we know that one of the things that people have said in the past is that in giving better buildings, better housing, we will not ensure better homes because the same conditions will be brought to this housing that existed before. I have never believed that this was true, and on you who will now occupy these houses, rests the responsibility of proving that given good housing within your income you know how to keep them up and how to make them real homes.

Program Participants

  • : Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced


About this document

Speech for New York Housing Authority, Part 1

December 3, 1936


Eleanor Roosevelt

Project Editors
  • National Endowment for the Humanities

Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Transcript Editors
  • : Lewis, Britanny
  • : Hall, Natalie
  • : Buckman, Lucy
  • : Alhambra, Christopher   [ ORCID: 0000-0002-6299-793X | VIAF ]

Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27

Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library