Most houses are built through private enterprise. However, a number of housing projects have been carried out which show improved housing conditions. The most outstanding of these recent developments - those begun or completed during the past decade are the two developments of the City Housing Corporation of New York City - Sunnyside and Rad-burn, the Brooklyn Garden Apartments, the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Apartments for Negroes in the Harlem district, and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers projects, all of New York City; the Marshall Field Garden Apartments and the Michigan Boulevard Apartments (the latter for Negroes), both of Chicago; and Mariemont of Cincinnati. With the exception of some of the houses of Sunnyside, and those of Radburn, and Mariemont, the dwellings are all of the multi-family type. These projects and others of note are housing enterprises that illustrate good housing at reasonably small and moderate cost.
The state of New York has endeavored to encourage low-rental hous- ing, and in 1926 a law was enacted to provide for limited-dividend companies. The following paragraphs from "The New York Law for Formation of Limited Dividend Companies" in the Monthly Labor Review of July, 1926, states some of the provisions.
.... The law provides for a State board of housing and for the formation of public limited-dividend corporations, the former to plan and supervise and the latter to undertake actual building projects. The State board is to consist of five members, appointed by the governor and serving without salary though receiving actual expenses. They are to study housing needs throughout the State, investigate alleged monopolies of building materials, prepare plans for housing projects, supervise the activities of limited-dividend corporations, appoint one member of the board of every such corporation, and exercise other supervisory and consultative functions.
The public limited-dividend corporations must consist of at least three members. The rents for housing erected by them must not exceed, in New York City, $12.50 a room per month, the bathroom not being counted as a room.
Outside of the city the maximum is less, running down to as low a figure as $9 per room per month. Their dividends are not to exceed six per cent per annum. Should returns reach a figure which, after proper allowance for maintenance, depreciation, etc., would justify a higher dividend, the rents are to be lowered proportionately.
In order that these corporations may secure the land needed for the large-scale operations necessary in order to reduce costs, they are given the right of eminent domain. This power is not to be exercised except upon the specific authorization of the State board, which is not to give the authorization unless, after public hearings on the plan proposed by the corporation, it is apparent that there is urgent need for the accommodations which the corporation intends to provide and that the condemnation is in the public interest.
Public limited-dividend corporations are required to furnish, through the actual sale of stock for cash, one-third of the total cost of any project undertaken, the remainder being secured through bonds bearing five per cent interest on first mortgage and 5 1/2 per cent on debenture bonds. No project may be undertaken without the approval of the housing board.
The corporations are to be exempt from the payment "of any and all franchise, organization, income, mortgage recording, and other taxes to the State, and also from all fees to the State or its officers." The bonds and mortgages of such corporations, together with the interest thereon and the dividends on the stock, are exempt from State taxation. The State can not exempt the corporations from local taxes on the buildings and improvements, but it empowers municipalities to do so and provides that whenever a municipality takes advantage of this permission the buildings and improvements shall be to the same extent exempt from State taxation.
Provision is also made for the formation of private limited-dividend housing corporations, which are not to have the power of eminent domain, but whose buildings and improvements are to be tax free so long as they remain in the hands of the corporation. Public limited-dividend corporations are not permitted to dispose of property once acquired nor to make any real-estate transfers. Private corporations organized under this law will, however, have this privilege.
[Note. - The Amalgamated Clothing Workers projects, the Brooklyn Garden Apartments, and the Farband projects are examples of tax-exemption experiments provided for by state and city legislation for apartments not exceeding a rental of $12.50 per room per month.]