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He moved up the following day, the 17th. On the 18th the plumbers came and turned it into an apartment and rented it to a tenant by the name of James Minor, superintendent of the Mount Zion Dairy in Georgetown, for $35. He lied like a dog. And they say: “ We are fair and impartial; we don't do no bad tricks."
He comes back on the 21st and tells Allen, “ Your rent for the second and third floors is $50,” the same amount that the Rent Commissioners had set for the entire house.
Then you tell us there is no prejudice? All right; it looks like it, doesn't it?
But let us see if this is not prejudice, This property is now being handled by Mr. Buck, in the seventeen hundred block on K Street. I have been in constant communication with him. I lay on my bed and talked with him over the phone. Here is the idea, and see whether this is prejudice. I offered in the street the 6th of December $8,000 for the property for the colored courts, and he said, “ Nothing less than $10,000 would buy it," and Miss Annie Murphy sold it for $8,500.
Now, he comes back, and I am showing you the plat of a 12-room house being turned into three apartments. Did you ever hear of the like since you have been born? I said that he won't sell it, and before he began to improve it that we would give him $80 a month for it. He said, "No, indeed; I will turn it into three apartments.” So I sat down and I figured about $125 a month for a 12-room house turned into three apartments. And then they tell me there is not prejudice.
The same thing occurred again. He has offered the property for $11,500. Now we would have to pay $1,000 in improvements, and then pay him $1,500 in addition in cash money, and then there is a trust on it of $25 a month and then another for $35 a month and then $25 a month, and then $20 a month, and each one of those trusts are carrying 6 per cent. We would never pay for it on this
6 side of the grave.
I want to offer this [handing diagram to the chairman). I am not an architect, but I guess you members of the committee can make it out. There is the 12-room house turned into four apartments, and shows you the bath room, here [indicating). He cuts off this part and puts the bathroom in there [indicating), and the ventilating pipe is 1412 inches from there [indicating), coming over this
Ånd they tell us, “We are fair; we are impartial.”
Mr. Chairman, I am going to conclude now. I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and you honorable members of the committee, for this opportunity, and I say to you that I represent, Mr. Chairman and you honorable members of the committee, nearly 8,000 of iny race right here in this city.
Now, there is not a nickel or a dime behind it, and I want to say to you that I came to this city when Pennsylvania Avenue was laid in pine blocks and East Capital Street was laid in boards, when this city did not have more than four real estate firms. I want to name them: B. H. Warner & Co., John E. Widener and Thomas Widener, L. D. Wine, and F. H. Smith.
I carried the line and laid out the village of Hyattsville. Every street in Hyattsville I laid out and cut with these hands. I lived
there, and I have seen this city grow from a real estate standpoint. We have about 150 landlords in this city that I know personally. I preach and work. I am a Southerner and I believe in hustling. As I was about to say, there are about 150 landlords in this city that are as honest as the days are long, but God help this young race that is coming up.
Mr. Chairman and you honorable members of the committee, I want to leave this with you: When you go behind your executive doors and close them and go into executive session, I pray that God's blessing will be upon you, so that your minds will be eliminated from all personality, and that the Holy Ghost will observe you and that
you will be able to judge law from gospel, truth from error, giving each man his mite in due season; and, in the end, remember that there are 60,000 white and colored boys and girls in the District of Columbia who shall make up the citizenship and represent the Capital of the Nation, when your bones and mine shall be lying in the grave, and here by your wise legislation their pockets will be protected.
I thank you.
STATEMENT OF MRS. 0. A. REED
(The witness was sworn by the Chair.)
Mr. REED. Gentlemen, after reading the testimony of Mr. Low last evening, I thought I had some evidence that I wanted to present, and which I did not get a chance to present the other night, and I thought probably the committee would like to have this.
I submit the following for the record, and I would like to have it put in. I am quoting from the Evening Star of Monday, December 20, 1915, column 2, page 1.
Representative HAMMER. Is it a short article?
Mr. REED. Well, it takes in one-third of a column. I will read it if the committee wishes.
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.
“$1,000,000 REALTY SALES RECORDED.
All real estate records for the year were shattered to-day when deeds in an exchange transaction involving properties, valued at considerably more than $1,000,000 were recorded.
By the terms of the exchange Mrs. H. M. Halladay becomes the owner of Wardman Courts, occupying the entire south frontage of Clifton street between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets NW., and including three of the largest apartments in Washington. Harry Wardman again becomes the owner of the Brighton Apartment at 2123 California street, which he built several years ago.
WARDMAN COURTS TRANSFERRED
The Wardman Courts figured in the transaction at a valuation of $893,000
I would like to call the committee's attention to the discrepancy between the figures here and what was given last evening. according to the indication of the deed. The property carried trusts amounting to $528,000 and there were $365 in tax stamps on the conveyance.
By the terms of the transaction Mr. Wardman leases the Wardman Courts from their new owner for a period of 10 years. Mr. Wardman said to-day that he has contracted to guarantee Mrs. Halladay a return from the property of $50,000 a year for the period. It is also stipulated in the contract that Mr. Wardman may buy back the property at any time during the period at a figure which has already been agreed upon by both parties to the transaction. Mr. Wardman received securities and cash to the value of about $250,000, he stated to-day.
The property occupied by the Wardman Courts has a frontage on Fourteenth street of 300 feet and the same amount on Thirteenth street. The Clifton street frontage is about 550. There are three apartments. The South and West buildings are now occupied, and th East building is about ready for occupancy. Each building is about five stories in height, and together they contain a total of 390 apartments.
The ground occupied by the Wardman Courts was owned formerly by the Barber Estate and in the center stood Belmont", the home of the Barber family. At the time the ground was acquired by Wardman, several years ago, an effort was made to have the property acquired by the Government as a public park.
The Brighton is a six-story building, containing about 80 suites of rooms.
There are just two or three matters I would like to mention, if the committee will bear with me for a moment. I will try to refrain from any personalities, or anything of that kind, but I just want to put this in the record. Mr. Low stated last evening that he had forty apartments, as follows: Three rooms, kitchen and bath, $60 and $70; four rooms, kitchen and bath, $75 and $80. This was under oath.
I occupy an apartment of three rooms, kitchen and bath. Here [exhibiting paper] are the findings of the Rent Commission under date of August 15, 1921. Here [exhibiting paper] is my first receipt for a monthly rental, under F. H. Smith & Company, at $75, $5 more than the Rent Commission ruled, and it has always been paid, even though the ruling was $70, without telephone service.
He says he has 40 three-room, kitchen and bath apartments, renting from $60 to $70, and I occupy one that I am paying $75 for, and he requests $90. I would like to have one of them at $60 to $70. .
I received a request on the 10th day of November to come down and immediately sign a lease for an increase to $90, retroactive to the first day of October. This request is dated October 30, but I received it on the 10th day of November. I agree with Mr. Low that he should have 30 days' notice when anybody moves, but I do not see why we should step back a month.
I did not go to the Rent Commission, because it had been done a year or more before I went into the apartment. I do not know who did go for this particular apartment, but it specifically states that there shall be no telephone charges.
Mr. Low states that his telephone switchboards cost him several hundred dollars a month. As a matter of fact, every tenant in the building pays 5 cents for each outgoing call, in addition to $1 service charge. There are some few that do not pay that. Twenty five cents of this service charge goes to the listing of your name in the telephone book each month out of this $1 service charge; yet we received notice shortly after they took the place over, that we must come down and pay $1.50 in order to have our name listed in th book in addition to this service charge.
The CHAIRMAN. And you pay for each outgoing call 5 cents?
Mr. REED. Yes, sir; and, as a matter of fact, and the committee can find this out, their calls average them 312 cents, so there is a
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profit on those calls in addition to the 75 cents they have left from each person, per month, for this service.
Mr. Low also said that he could not get help for less than $25 a week. A fireman and engineer who had been receiving $100 a month for years was succeeded by a man who is now receiving $100 a month, which is not quit $25 a week.
The next man under him gets $60 to $75 a month. The elevator operator from 7.30 a. m. to 6 p. m. receives $50 per month, the man from 6 p. m. to 12 at night gets $10, and the man who comes on at midnight and works until 7.30 in the morning gets $30. The man in the center building who operates the switchboard from 9.30 to 8 gets $60 for operating the switchboard, and is supposed to run the elevator.
I am just showing the discrepancy in those things. The telephone operators, when they took the building over, received $22 a week. They were immediately discharged and substituted by girls getting $60 a month. One of them gets $70 and the other two $60.
In another place Mr. Low says that the apartment house business is such a dangerous and unprofitable business. I wonder why they continue to acquire so many—the Plaza, the Wellington, the Brighton, the Lonsdale, the Sixteenth Street Mansion, the Argyle, etc.
I would like particularly to answer the charge that he was suing me for rent. That has no bearing on whether we need a rent law or are paying too much rent. I want to state that any personal matters that Mr. Low or any other real estate man might have with me are not matters with which the committee is concerned. The committee is concerned with the question whether we are getting just rents, or whether we need a rent law. It is up to me to determine what tactics I shall us in order to protect myself. I have not any money to hire high priced lawyers, and I hope the committee will appreciate the fact that the tenants, whether they belong to the League or not, have not been able to hire talent. Any tactics I may use to protect myself is of no interest to the committee or to anybody else. That is a matter of mine. I am only using my own wits, or the advice of legal talent, to protect myself; that is all.
Now, again, I want to say that I was a little bit bitter last evening when Mr. Low said the bolshevists and the tenants of the building had stopped up the sewer, and fortunately, I am glad to say that it happened, if such thing had to happen, down in the West Building. I want to say that nobody from the West Building is associated with us down here in any way; if they are, I have never seen them. There is one gentleman, Mr. Doherty, but he moved away, and he has never appeared here. If this happened in the West Building, we know nothing about it.
Again, about the heating plant-I am not sure about this, but I tried to get it all down-Mr. Low stated the tenants put the heating plant “on the bum” Christmas day, and I will state for the benefit of the committee that before Mr. Low took the management of the building I happened to know that the heating plant went bad, one of the sections, and that section was ordered, I think, before they took the building over, and arrived about the time they took it over, and it was sitting down there in the cellar, and they simply neglected to put it in before the furnaces were fired, and after they were started this section gave out. It is preposterous or ridiculous
to think that any of the tenants could go down and put the heating plant “on the bum" when they have a man, or two of them, in attendance there most of the time.
I just want to call this committee's attention to the fact that nothing like that is done, and, so far as breaking lights is concerned, there have been no lights broken. There have been lights out in our hall constantly, but they are burned out. The bulbs are in. A light is like a gun. A gun has to be rerifled out about every 16 shots, and so with an electric bulb.
Representative HAMMER. I understood you to say that $893,000 was the price that Mr. Wardman sold the Wardman Courts for in December, 1915, and that he had agreed to buy it back in 10 years and he did buy it back?
Mr. REED. Yes, sir; he did.
Representative HAMMER. So it did not cost him originally, as stated, $1,250,000? That is, when bought it back it cost him that?
Mr. REED. Yes, sir.
Representative HAMMER. But that the valuation at this time was $893,000?
Mr. REED. Yes, sir.
Representative HAMMER. Do you know what the rents are now compared with what they were then?
Mr. REED. Yes, sir; I can give you that.
Representative HAMMER. Have there been any additions made to this building since then?
Mr. REED. No, sir.
Representative HAMMER. Of course there have been repairs, some repairs, but no additional buildings. Do you know what the schedule of prices amounted to then and now?
Mr. REED. Yes, sir. So far as repairs are concerned, I can only state my own case. The only repairs they have made in my apartment in the time we have lived there was one window curtain.
Representative HAMMER. How long had that been?
Mr. REED. I moved in on June 20, 1922. The only repairs we have had to the apartment was one window blind, which was bad when we moved in, and an electric light fixed in the kitchen.
Representative HAMMER. What about those schedules of prices?
Mr. REED. I have them here. Well, take my apartment. I am more familiar with my own. I would rather quote it first. It rented at that time for $45, and I am now paying $75, over the Rent Commission's ruling of $70, and they are asking $90. That is an increase of 50 per cent.
Representative HAMMER. I do not want to take up so much of the time, but do you know what the gross amount of the income is now and what the gross amount of the income was then from the rent?
Mr. REED. I know this Representative HAMMER (interposing). Mr. Low was unable to give us any information of any value as to what the building cost or what his income was now or any other time.
Mr. REED. I had some information.
Representative HAMMER. I had heard from another source that it is practically double now.