A Few Assumptions

1. It is desirable to decrease the speculative elements in housing and to increase the investment element until the first has been reduced to the vanishing point and the latter has become controlling. This means that we should stabilize values, and stabilization of house values is dependent upon stabilizing the character of the neighborhood. In this stabilization regional planning, supplemented by zoning, is essential.

Admitting the great part that speculation has played in producing the dwellings of America, we must also admit that it has played as great a part in destroying them, in blighting whole sections of our cities, in promoting rapid transition which lowers housing values so quickly that the investor has withdrawn from a large part of the market - leaving it to the "home-owner" whose controlling motive is sentiment, in deteriorating construction until the buildings erected to-day have a much shorter expectation of life, a far higher expectation of repair and maintenance costs than those of our fathers and grandfathers, and, most important, in leading us to accept dwellings inferior in type. From the one-family house which used to be universal it has led us to the multi-family house and has gradually squeezed and cramped this lower form of dwelling until a large and increasing part of our urban population lives in one-, two-, and three-room apartments. These multi-family dwellings are popularly supposed to have investment value, but experience is showing that by and large the rapid obsolescence of a multi-family house prevents its being in the class of gilt-edged bonds. From the social point of view its destructive effect upon family life is a matter of concern.

2. The preservation of the family - meaning parents and children - is essential. The population of voting age may be everything that candidates for public office tell its members that they are, but its life and its work would lose significance if there were no children to carry on. With the children lies the whole future. Consequently, children are of first importance. And since the house is the shell in which the family functions, since it exerts a constant influence in molding and shaping the family, even in determining whether or not there shall be children, the question of housing should be approached from the point of view of the well-being of children.

A Few Assumptions 76

Fig. 74 (courtesy of the New York Evening Post).

3. The one-family house with generous open spaces about it is the best house for a child. Consequently, every effort should be made to promote the erection, to protect the continued existence of such houses.

4. While the one-family house is the most important type of dwelling, there is a legitimate demand for other types ranging from the two-family house through the so-called multi-family house and the apartment-hotel to the hotel. This demand must be met, but because these socially inferior types of dwellings with their possibilities of land overcrowding and cramped living quarters can underlive the one-family house and drive it out, just as Oriental labor can underlive and drive out white labor, it must be restricted to certain specified sections of the community and must be strictly regulated so that it will provide the essentials of wholesome living - light, air, room-space, sanitation - for its inhabitants.