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Considering the whole situation, the company decided to turn over for colored tenants three groups which up to that time had been occupied by whites, and which contained a total of seventy-five 3 and 4 room apartments. “There was a rush for them, and within two days 95 per cent of the accommodations were taken.
The company is now providing housing for 300 colored families, and is considering taking advantage of the present situation to enter again on a construction program "for Negroes of course," as the report puts it.
It is the policy of the company to keep rents within the reach of the lower-paid worker.
A 3-room flat with bath rents for from $15 to $17 per month, and 4-room flats from $17.50 to $22 per month in the Negro groups. The average rent per room in the negro groups is $4.96 per month, and in the white groups $6.32 per month. The above-quoted 3-room flat
that used to rent at $7.60 per month before the war, rents at $15. However, the group has been wired for electricity in 1920 for which additional convenience the rent was advanced $1 a month. In 1926 the old sinks and laundry trays were replaced by 1-piece sinks and enamel . bathtubs and hot-water systems were installed, for which another dollar a month was advanced. Subtracting these two advances in rent because of added conveniences from the present rate of $15, we have $13 per month for the same 3-room flat which rented in the pre-war period for $7.60, an increase of $5.40, or 70 per cent. This group stood the largest increase, because the original rates were the lowest of all our holdings, and was necessitated by the increased taxes, labor, and material that go into the maintenance and repairs and overhead.
Economic Status of Negro Tenants In 1930 the company collected some statistical data concerning the tenants of four groups of buildings, choosing the groups of long standing on the ground that these tenants would be less likely to be suspicious of inquiries than those with less experience of the company. The groups contained 188 families, with a total of 626 men, women, and children, or an average of 3% persons to a family. There were 142 normal families, 28 widows, and 8 deserted wives; retired and pensioned persons made up the remainder. The working heads of families were mainly laborers, chauffeurs, domestic servants, and skilled and semiskilled artisans, with four post-office employees, four clergymen, and a sprinkling of miscellaneous workers. The average earnings of these were $24.17 a week, the average for occupational groups ranging from $18.33 for gardeners to $47 for hod carriers and bricklayers. In only three groups—the cooks, the post-office employees, and the bricklayers—did the average earnings reach or pass $30 a week. In 41 per cent of the families the wives worked, earning on an average $10 a week, and in 16 per cent adult children were at work, earning on an average $12 a week.
At the time of the inquiry—the latter part of April-only 15 heads of families were wholly or partly unemployed, but 66 individuals in 63 families had lost during 1929 a total of 883% weeks through unemployment, representing a loss in wages of $16,969, or $269.32 per family, or $5.30 per week per family affected.
Comparison Between Negro and White Tenants In regard to losses through vacancies and failure to pay rent due the company finds that its colored tenants have a good record.
From 1924 to 1928, inclusive, a period of five years, we lost through vacancies in the colored groups $607.53 and in the white groups, $1,844.11, excluding vacancies in groups of postwar construction; and the losses through default were $505 in the colored groups as against $853 in the white groups.
A part of the favorable showing in regard to defaults, it is suggested, is due to the lesser mobility of the colored tenant. There is always & temptation to leave all or part of the last month's rent unpaid when moving, and since proportionately three times as many white as colored tenants move, it is not surprising that they yield to this temptation more often.
The charge is sometimes made that the Negro is a wasteful and expensive tenant. On this subject the secretary of the company, speaking before a woman's organization of Cincinnati, says "A survey of disbursements, covering a period of nine years, from 1920 to 1928, inclusive, gives the following answer:"
DISBURSEMENTS COVERING PERIOD, 1920 TO 1928, BY ITEM OF EXPENDITURE
The cost of water is the one item on the list, it is pointed out, which is absolutely within the control of the tenant, and here it appears that the colored tenant is accountable for somewhat less expense than the white, possibly, it is suggested, because the colored housewife oftener works away from home, and consequently uses less water. The plumbers' bills show a difference to the credit of the colored family. Other items are perhaps not fairly comparable. The greater cost for carpenter work among the white tenants, for instance, is due to a difference in the character of the houses, the houses for whites more often having porches, which require frequent repair, while the plasterers' bills are larger among the colored tenants because of inferior materials and workmanship in their houses. The higher cost for interior decoration in houses for the whites has several causes:
We spend on interior decorations $7 per annum among the white and $3.64 among the colored. This is necessitated by the greater turnover in the white groups, the ratio being 3 to 1 as compared with the number of colored families moving. We are also in duty bound to allow more for interior decoration in the white group because of the higher rates of rent prevailing.
Home Ownership Among 789 Families in Buffalo STUDY of housing costs and allied information on housing con
detail what is involved in house purchase and house maintenance among a group of 789 families with incomes not exceeding $3,000 a year. In choosing the families to be covered by the survey certain restrictions were set up, as follows:
1 The Buffalo Home Ownership Study, by Martin 1. Brumbaugh, issued as a mimeographed appendix hy the President's Conerence on Home Building and Home Ownership. Committee on the Relationship of Income and the Home, and in summary form in the tentative report of the conmittee.
1. Only families having total income not exceeding $3,000 in 1930 were included.
2. Only families composed of husband, wife, and at least one dependent child were included.
3. Only families in which both parents were born in the United States were included.
4. Only families who owned their homes in 1930 were included. All renting families were excluded.
5. Only families who were in process of paying for their homes in 1930 were included.
6. No families were included in which there were more than two roomers or boarders.
7. Only families living in 1 and 2 family dwellings were included. No apartmients were included.
8. No cases were included in which two or more families were occupying quarters clearly intended for one family. Such cases were considered as overcrowding and were tabulated on a separate schedule.
The apportionment of families by areas of the city was facilitated by a study of vacant houses made by the Buffalo post office in 1930, which was used as a guide. It is believed by the author of the study that the sample finally chosen, within the limitations here set forth, is a representative cross section for Buffalo and perhaps other northern urban sections.
As developed, the study describes the properties purchased, the financing plans of the present owners, their occupations, earnings, family composition, and consequences of home purchase. A brief summary of the findings follows.
Description of Property TABULATION of the returns discloses that 82 per cent of the houses bought are of the single type and 18 per cent are double, or 2-family. This ratio, it is brought out, is quite different from that shown in the Buffalo post office study that has been mentioned, the latter study showing that 57 per cent of the vacant houses in 1930 were single and 43 per cent double. With the exception of three houses, all were of frame construction. The typical size of lot is 35 feet wide and 115 feet deep. Garages were found on 69 per cent of the properties and 27 per cent were found to be without garage facilities. In all, these house owners have space for 924 automobiles, the surplus space bringing in extra income, as garages rent for from $5 to $8 per month. The predominating size of houses is 6, 7, and 8 rooms, 83 per cent of the total being of this size. The range in size is from 4 to 11 rooms with one 3-room house included. In addition, all have bathrooms in contrast with the condition obtaining in 1918, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics found in its study of Buffalo that 34 houses had 23 bathrooms and 163 flats or apartments had 113 bathrooms.
History and Cost of Property The houses purchased are not old, 76 per cent having been built since 1921 and only 2 per cent prior to 1900. It is stated that these home owners bought very largely in the building boom which started in 1921 and reached its peak in 1923–24. Tabulating single and 2family houses separately, the average cost prices are $6,131 and $8,530, respectively. Price is concentrated within narrower limits for the single houses than for 2-family houses. Single houses costing $12,000 and over represented 1 per cent of the total, while 2-family houses at $12,000 and over equaled 13 per cent of the total.
It is stated that the nominal interest rate in Buffalo is 6 per cent. Some agencies write mortgages at 5 and 5%per cent interest. However, the costs of financing and refinancing must be added to the nominal rate, and the cost of renewal is as high as 6 per cent every three years in some instances. Analysis of the financing plans for the properties studied shows that 59 per cent of the home owners were carrying both first and second mortgages in 1930 and that the remaining 41 per cent were carrying first mortgages only. majority of the latter cases second mortgages had been discharged prior to 1930. It was further found to be customary for these home owners to amortize one mortgage, usually the second, and pay only the interest on the other. Conditions with respect to amortization and the average monthly payments on mortgages are shown in Table 1.
TABLE 1.-CONDITIONS WITH RESPECT TO AMORTIZATION OF PRINCIPAL OF MORT
GAGES ON PROPERTIES OWNED AND AVERAGE MONTHLY PAYMENTS
The greater number of the mortgages, both first and second, are held by private individuals. Savings banks and finance companies are also important holders of first mortgages. Few mortgages, either first or second, are held by savings and loan associations, because these institutions usually require amortization of loans.
Occupation, Earnings, and Family Make-Up THERE has been very little change in the occupations of the 789 breadwinners covered by the study as between the year of house purchase and 1930. In the year prior to house purchase 48 per cent of the breadwinners were in skilled occupations, and in 1930 the percentage was 46. The next most important group was that of clerical workers, representing 15 per cent of the total the year before home purchase and 14 per cent in 1930. Semiskilled and unskilled represented 9 and 7 per cent of the total, respectively, in both years.
The arithmetic-average earnings of breadwinners at the time of house purchase were $2,057 and the median $2,000. In 1930 the average was $1,902 and the median $1,970. Light is thrown on the drop in average earnings by the fact that at the time of home purchase 81 per cent of the breadwinners were employed full time and 90 per cent, 40 weeks or more, while in 1930 full-time employment was had by only 64 per cent of the breadwinners and 40 weeks or more of employment by 75 per cent of the total. It was also found that
17 breadwinners were unemployed during 1930, contrasted with 10 at the time of home purchase.
The statement below shows the income for year prior to house purchase of principal breadwinner in 518 families which own single houses purchased in 1922 or later:
Another reflection of the economic position of the families surveyed is size of family. The average number of dependents increased from 1.6 in the year prior to home purchase to 2.2 in 1930. The age at which the principal breadwinners bought houses was commonly 28 to 32.
Consequences of House Purchase It is stated that only a few of the consequences of house purchase were tabulated. However, the study showed general satisfaction in having the kind of house desired, being required to save for payments, etc. At the same time it was realized by the vast majority that house ownership interfered with moving to another community to take work.
The down payments on property were derived from a number of sources, of which the principal sources were previous savings (78 per cent); insurance, gifts, and borrowed money (7 per cent); and inherited money (4 per cent). For the houses purchased in 1922 and thereafter, representing 619 properties out of the 789 covered by the study, it was found that the down payment amounted to, roughly, 25 per cent of the total cost; first mortgages, 50 per cent; and second mortgages, 25 per cent.
It is apparent that in many cases the average mortgage costs represent a high percentage of the breadwinner's income. It is further brought out in the study under review that only 39 families of a total of 789 had any income in addition to that of the principal breadwinner in the year prior to house purchase. In 20 cases the additional income amounted to less than $500. During 1930 of the total 789 families there were 119 in which the principal breadwinners' incomes were augmented by other members of the family. In 52 cases the added income was more than $500. In explaining this change the author of the study states that necessity is an important factor as is the fact that more children have reached an age when they are able to secure at least part-time employment.
The average amount of income added in the families with auxiliary wage earners was $833 in the year prior to house purchase and $891 in 1930. Prorating this added income for all 789 families the average additions were $42 and $134 in these two years, respectively.