In urban communities there are several easily recognized groups for each of which housing provision should be made. First and much the most important, because with them lies the future, are the families with children or expectation of children. They call for first consideration. They themselves may be divided into two classes. First are those who are fairly permanently located in the community, whose interests and fortunes have been and will be bound up with those of their neighbors and fellow citizens. They are the most valuable element for they have developed or can develop a lively sense of community responsibility. Less valuable, but more in need of assistance, is the second class, composed of families which, because of the nature of the bread-winner's work or because of the temperament of father or mother, frequently move from city to city. They range from high salaried officials of large corporations, army and navy officers, professional men and women - civil engineers, social workers - to the automobile tramps who have become an interesting and puzzling phenomenon of modern life, whose younger children have never known a more stable home than the "flivver" and whose importunities are increasing the burden carried by charity organizations. Even those among this second class who are best placed economically have a difficult problem in providing homes for their children in these days when the choice lies between buying a proper house or renting an apartment.
In the first group it will be noted that families with "expectation of children" have been included as well as those with children. There is a great deal of talk about giving the young married couple a shelter that will just fit their present needs, assuming that when the expected happens they will move from their furnished two-room flat to that idyllic vine-covered cottage where love traditionally abides. Considered as a matter of pure economics, there is much to be said for all this, but while sound economics should be the foundation of living, pure economics is a sterile . soil which will not produce an adequate crop of babies. Marriage, the family, is an adventure. Reason it out too coldly, balance economic items too carefully, and the young couple will grow to middle age, still living in their apartment, still thinking first of their own safety, their own comforts. Then the Nation may well ask why it was taxed to provide for their schooling, to protect their health, when they have been unwilling to pass on the heritage they received. The first home of the young couple should be at least a promise of its future home, should have in it the room, the play yard that every day ask when the expected is to arrive. This may be economic waste, but the greater part of the joy of living consists of what cannot be strictly justified on the score of pure economics; it may be beyond the means of many young married couples, but it is an objective to be approximated as closely as we - and they - can.
Next to be considered, because they have not shirked but have rendered their service to society, is the group composed of those who have reared their children and sent them out into the world. The home that sheltered them when all the family were together may now be too large, too much of a burden. Many will continue to maintain it because of sentiment, but others will desire and should have a more convenient shelter. Their problem is not met by old folks' homes, however those may be disguised by luxury. Perhaps the nearest approach to a solution is the occasional multi-family dwelling where through some happy circumstance of management, tenant leadership, or a common dining room, the inhabitants mingle for a time in the evening, and the older people have opportunity to maintain some daily contact with younger people.
Then come the unattached individuals who form the tragedy of civilization, often not recognized by its victims until they reach middle age. Their variety is so great, class merges into class so imperceptibly that it is difficult to classify them definitely. They range all the way from the well-to-do bachelor who lives at his club and thus has the casual social intercourse with his fellows that fills so many of the odd moments of contented living, the lack of which reduces living in period of conscious effort interspersed with periods of loneliness; from the two spinsters who have joined forces to fight off loneliness and who live together in a little apartment, through those forlorn ones who inhabit boarding houses - a form of housing now apparently on the decrease - hotels and rooming houses - a form of housing now apparently on the increase. This great army is recruited from the youth of the land who venture forth in search of fortune. Its veterans are those who fail to make a family harbor. The problem of the unattached, whether it be the well-known "homeless man" who patronizes municipal lodging houses, or the wage-earning woman, whether it be the raw recruit or the veteran left-over, is one that has not yet begun to be solved in spite of the voluminous literature dealing with fragments of it - perhaps because this literature does deal with fragments only instead of with the problem as a whole.