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Mr. BRANDENBURG. The photographers were also there?
Mr. BRANDENBURG. Did you notify those papers that you were about to serve this writ of restitution?
Mr. TOUHEY. No, sir.
Mr. BRANDENBURG. Had any notice, directly or indirectly, been conveyed by you to the newspapers that you were about to serve the writ of restitution? Did you give any notice in any way?
Mr. TOUHEY. No, sir.
Representative BLANTON. Mr. Touhey, if you had believed that this lady was sick at the time, so sick she would have to go to the hospital, would you have put her out at that time?
Mr. TOUHEY. I would have done what the chief deputy of the municipal court told me to do, and the responsibility would not have been on my shoulders.
Representative BLANTON. Would you have done it without reporting to him her condition?
Mr. TOUHEY. No, sir.
Representative BLANTON. Did you believe she was so sick that she would have to go to the hospital ?
Mr. TOUHEY. I had nothing else to do but execute the writ.
Representative BLANTON. Did you believe her condition was such that she would have to go to the hospital?
Mr. Touhey. To be frank, I did not. If she were in bed, surely, we never would have bothered her. If she was sick in bed her bed would not have been taken out from under her or anything like that. because we do not do things that way.
Senator COPELAND. Do I understand, Mr. Chairman, that the fault or criticism here is that there were photographers present or that the tenant was evicted? Just what is the point about it? Is there anything remarkable that there were photographers there?
Mr. BRANDENBURG. I do not know just what Mr. Blanton had in mind in calling the deputy marshal. There has been a charge made here
Representative BLANTON (interposing). The gentleman will find out later.
Mr. BRANDENBURG. The question was asked by Senator Copeland, and that is the reason why I was replying.
Mr. BRANDENBURG. Before the committee convened I was asked by the chairman to talk with a lady who was here to see whether I would put her on the stand as a witness for the property owners. I have talked to her, and while I do not care to call her as a witness, yet I think perhaps the committee may be interested in her statement.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well. We will hear what she has to say.
TESTIMONY OF MRS. MARY E. SLATTERY
(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)
The CHAIRMAN. You may make whatever statement you wish, Mrs. Slattery.
Mrs. SLATTERY. I am not in favor of the proposed rent law. The property owner has never had an impartial hearing. Senator Ball, as a complaining tenant, is not in sympathy with a landlord.
When the Ball law was being drafted and the District of Columbia real estate men were invited in conference, they were headed by Charles Fairfax, who was in a state of mental and physical collapse and was ill for a year and a half.
The Government employee, whom our President wishes to protect, had first-hand information of the influx of war workers being expected. They rented vacant houses at a nominal rent, furnished them on the installment plan, and sublet them.
Owners, from the daily papers, realized that tenants were making exorbitant sums off of their, the owners', capital and began rent raising. Then came the Rent Commission.
Owners realized that if the earning capacity of the house was increased, so was the value, and sold at fancy values. The daily papers helped to boost the sales by noting the shortage, and nearly every house in Washington changed hands.
To aid the purchaser, with a small amount of cash, a first-mortgage bonding company would place a mortgage at a high rate and
the owner would' take a second mortgage in monthly payments. The purchaser is an innocent party and should not be placed in a position where he must hire counsel to defend himself against an unreasonable tenant.
The aforesaid first-mortgage bonds are owned mainly by Government employees. If the rate of interest was reduced, so might the rents be.
To build houses to rent has not been a paying investment in Washington for many 'years, as the ground value is high. At Ninth and 0 Streets NW. 25 years ago ground sold for $1.50 per square foot for inside lots and $3 for the corner.
To build a small house in a fashionable quarter, and the Government employee will have no other, to rent for one-fourth of a clerk's salary of $75 a month is a dream.
Representative BLANTON. Mr. Chairman, I want to interrupt a moment. I move to strike out all of the lady's statement having reference to the chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The chairman of the committee does not object to anything she has said.
Representative BLANTON. But I am not going to sit here and have a witness abuse Members of Congress, either the ones I agree with or the ones I do not agree with, by making such statements.
The CHAIRMAN. I think she merely had reference to legislation that has been enacted.
Representative BLANTON. I know, but it brings a congressional committee hearing down to the depths of a common justice of the peace trial, mere horseplay. If we are going to have that kind of references to members of the committee, I do not want to sit in the hearing, and therefore I move to strike it out. It is improper here. The statement of the lady is all right if she will leave out any such references. That is an improper reference to the chairman of the committee. I do not agree with the chairman in many of these matters, but he is entitled to the respect of the witnesses who come here, and every member of the committee is entitled to their respect. They have no right to make any kind of insinuations against us. I ask that the reference to the chairman be stricken out of her statement.
Mrs. SLATTERY. I beg your pardon. If you think it was disrespectful, I beg your pardon. I did not intend it that way.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think the lady intended any slur. The Chair did not take it as such at all. It was merely owing to the fact that the rent act happened to bear the name of the chairman of the committee the Ball Rent Act.
Representative BLANTON. I think the witness ought to be given to understand that she, as well as all other witnesses, must be respectful in references to the members of the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. I have no objection to her statement.
Senator COPELAND. I rarely agree with Brother Blanton, but I certainly do this time.
Representative BLANTON. I will say to the distinguished Senator from New York that probably the people of my district would be as nearly in accord with him as I am.
Representative HAMMER. I was going to make such a motion at the time the statement was made, but I think public officers are apt to be criticized and that probably the lady did not mean anything by the statement.
The CHAIRMAN. Personally, I have no objection at all. I do not think she intended anything disrespectful. It was merely due to the fact that my name happens to be attached to the original rent act.
Representative HAMMER. She is saying some very sensible things in that connection, but I did not agree with that statement.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed, Mrs. Slattery.
Mrs. SLATTERY. A $75 a month man should not expect to live in the most fashionable quarter of the finest city in the world. There are more $19 per month rooms in houses in Washington than there are $75 per month Government clerks.
In 1914 the Geographical Society, the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co., the Southern Railroad Co. real estate men, and lawyers paid their stenographers $40 and $45 a month, and the nominal pay in the Government departments was $75 a month.
Furnishing a straw man in a business deal or pyramiding mortgages is as old as the hills and a thing apart and has no bearing on the amount of rent Government employees should pay.
Who and where are these real estate schemers? David E. Barry, James F. Shea, Thomas E. Petty, William T. Ballard, Frank X. O'Neil
. All rent property for me, and all have advised me not to raise my rents, and are fine honorable gentlemen.
From 1902 to 1909 the electric cars lessened distances and many suburban houses were built for sale on the monthly payment plan.
When the 1910 census was taken it was found that Washington was overbuilt and the people were moving out of the old houses in the center of the city and buying the new houses. There were more than 1,000 vacant houses in the District of Columbia. Only the most desirable houses were rented. Owners reduced the rent and made most unreasonable repairs to keep tenants in houses. When houses were vacant they were abused and ransacked; $6,000 houses were rented for $30 per month.
When the war came and owners asked only a fair rental, tenants thought they were being robbed.
If renting property does not bring a 12 per cent return on the invested money it is not worth bothering with. A house should be put in good repair when rented and if the paper gets soiled or repair is needed the tenant gets the benefit and should pay for the same.
The war workers came in bunches whenever an appropriation was available, and then there would be a jam and an apparent shortage of rooms, but for the next day all would be accommodated and there was never a real acute shortage of rooms for rent. Two in a room for $12, or $6 each, seemed to be most desirable.
There are no slums in Washington. All alley houses have water and sewerage and are safe, sanitary, and comfortable. Hysterical folks forget that what looks poor to a wealthy person looks fine to a poorer one. Lots of our farmers throughout the country are not housed as comfortably as are alley dwellers.
Representative STALKER. You spoke about a return of 12 per cent on the money invested. Is that gross or net?
Mrs. SLATTERY. Gross. I think if you put up a house for $1,000 it should rent for $10 a month, a $2,000 house for $20 a month, and a $3,000 house for $30 a month. That is the way I figure it.
I Senator COPELAND. Have you ever visited the alleys?
Mrs. SLATTERY. I have. My husband is a physician, and I have been in all the dirtiest alleys in the city. My husband being a physician, I am interested in such matters. I have raised 11 children. I think I understand what good sanitary conditions mean.
Senator COPELAND. Have you been in the slums of New York? Mrs. SLATTERY. I have not. I have read of them.
Senator COPELAND. I should like to say for the record that we have no slums in New York that compare with the slums or alleys of Washington.
Mrs. SLATTERY. Of which alley did you speak? Senator COPELAND. I can not name them, but I have visited them all.
Mrs. SLATTERY. I have, too, and I have been in the houses. Down at 914 Liberty Street, which is considered an alley, the house is very clean.
Representative HAMMER. I understood you to say that the rents were not unduly high when the war came on in Washington.
Mrs. SLATTERY. Do you mean for the rooms or for the houses ?
Representative HAMMER. You stated in your formal statement, as I understood it as you presented it, that when the war came there was a complaint of all rents which were not unreasonable.
Mrs. SLATTERY. When the war came on, in the beginning of the war, rents were low. Owners were not getting a fair return.
Representative HAMMER. I understood you to say they were not unreasonably high after they were raised.
Mrs. SLATTERY. I do not know about after they were raised. I never raised any of mine, none that I know of, were what I considered unreasonable.
Representative HAMMER. Do you know it as a fact that Government workers, girls paying $22 a month for lodging and board when the war came on, are now paying $50 for the same apartments?
Mrs. SLATTERY. They are getting more money.
Representative HAMMER. They are not getting considerably more than twice as much, are they?
Mrs. SLATTETY. They are.
Mrs. SLATTERY. I have daughters working and I have sublet to two girls in the Government departments and they were getting $125 and $150 a month.
Representative BLANTON. Have you ever been brought before the Rent Commission?
Mrs. SLATTERY. I have. Representative BLANTON. How many tenants have you now all told?
Mrs. SLATTERY. About 40.
Representative BLANTON. Do you know of any dissatisfaction now among your tenants?
Mrs. SLATTERY. No; not that I know of. Representative BLANTON. When you make a repair at this time in 1925 to one of your houses, what percentage in increase does it cost you as compared with 1917?
Mrs. SLATTERY. It is impossible to make repairs now because you can not get men to do repair work.
Representative BLANTON. How much more does it cost you now than in the beginning of 1917—what more, if anything?
Mrs. SLATTERY. Not any more.
Representative BLANTON. You can not get painting and papering done for just the same it cost you in 1917, can you?
Mrs. SLATTERY. You can not get the men to do it now.
Representative BLANTON. That is what I am getting at, that it costs you more or does it cost you less to make repairs than it did in 1917? Mrs. SLATTERY. Mr. Shugrue did some work for me.
He repaired a roof for $20. I do not think that was any more than it has been heretofore.
Representative BLANTON. Do paperhangers and painters and bricklayers get more now in wages than they did in 1917?
Mrs. SLATTERY. They do. Representative BLANTON. Does lumber cost more or less than it did then?
Mrs. SLATTERY. I do not know. Senator Jones of Washington. Do you own any property in the alleys, so-called ?
Mrs. SLATTERY. Yes.
Senator JONES of Washington. I will say that your last statement to my notion discredits very much what you have said before.
. That is all.