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Mr. REED. I hope that the committee will allow me to furnish that tomorrow. I have it somewhere. I have some information you should have, and I know
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). We would be very glad to have you furnish it tomorrow. Of course, it is to be furnished under oath the same as your testimony.
Mr. REED. I will be glad to go before a notary.
Mr. REED. I do know this, that under the rentals at that time Mr. Wardman had a goodly surplus over what he guaranteed the lady mentioned here, Mrs. Halladay.
(An affidavit by Mr. Joseph Low is, by direction of the chairman, incorporated herein and printed as Exhibit H.)
Mr. GORE. Mr. Chairman, do I understand that the owners are to have any more time this evening?
The CHAIRMAN. I think they are entitled to 10 minutes, but, of course, that refers to the independent owners, outside of any association.
Mr. Gore. A question has arisen now that I think we ought later to make a few remarks about.
STATEMENT OF DR. CHARLES M. EMMONS
(The witness was sworn by the chairman.)
Doctor EMMONS. I only want to state this. I understood that tonight the unorganized parties would be heard. I happen to be president of the East Washington Citizens' Association, and for the last 34 years have been practicing medicine in Washington and during that time my work has caused me to be very familiar with the city. I have been examiner for two or three industrial companies, and I go into the neighborhood of a hundred houses a week and know the situation, as well as the rental conditions, in the eastern and southeastern sections of the city.
I know, as a matter of fact, from my personal knowledge, that a great deal has been said here as to the conditions of the alley situation in Washington which is not true. There is not an alley in the town chat I have not been in. I have been in the houses of these people, and I do know, as a matter of fact, as a representative of one of the largest insurance companies here, that we are paying a smaller per cent of sick claims in the alleys of the city than other cities are now paying. I also know, as a matter of fact, as an owner of property here, that there are a number of cases where people who own property are renting their properties at reasonable figures.
Senator Jones of Washington. In the alleys, you mean?
Senator Jones of Washington. Have these alleys been improved during the last few years?
Doctor EMMONS. I own two alley houses, with six rooms, with gas and water in the house, and they rent for $7 a month.
Senator Jones of Washington. The last time I went through several of them, they were not fit for animals to live in.
Doctor Emmons. I will say this, that the condition of the average alley house compares very well with the average condition of the house on the street occupied by the same class of tenants. The tendency is this, that on the side streets the houses are overfilled. They are crowded beyond sanitary conditions, but that is not as true in the homes of the alley dwellers.
I want to say, from further observation and personal knowledge, that a goodly portion of the working people are living in the suburban sections of the city and are much better fixed, and a large percentage of them are owning their own homes, buying them. The remedy, in my judgment, is that there are too many people who do not seek the cheaper sections of the city. They all want to reside in the north west or in some exclusive section.
There are cheap rents. I am renting a nine-room house, with electric lights and modern improvements, at $25 a month, and I pay my real estate agent $2.50 to collect the rent; and I have another seven-room house, and I get $20 a month for it, with gas, bathroom and a good yard.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you ever have any vacancies?
Doctor EMMONS. I have two vacant now. I have a house now that I will take $35 a month for, but you have got to walk about 20 minutes to a car. That is good exercise.
The trouble is this, gentlemen, in my judgment, that the Government clerk is not paid sufficient money upon which to live. He is getting too small a salary to pay the increased cost of living, and I say that because I know that in a relative sense the insurance agents, the average insurance agent, is getting in the neighborhood of from $10 to $50 a week, and 15 years ago the average agent was in the neighborhood of $25 to $30. I know that the Government clerk has not had a raise proportionate to the increased costs of commodities and the natural increase of necessary expenses, and there should be a decided raise in the Government clerks' salaries, so that they can pay reasonable rents. They can not do it on what they are getting at present.
The CHAIRMAX. Where is this vacant house?
Doctor Emmons. It is in the Anacostia section, out in East Washington Heights. There is a coach line that reaches within 15 minutes' walk of there.
I make these observations because, as president of the East Washington Citizens' Association for the last 10 years and as secretary for the last 25 years, I have heard the city maligned, and I have heard statements not borne out by actual observations. I have no interest in any combination of any kind. .
STATEMENT OF MR. HENRY GRAHAM
(The witness was sworn by the chairman.) The CHAIRMAN. I shall have to limit you to four or five minutes.
Mr. GRAHAM. I am from the Whitelaw Apartment, Thirteenth and T Streets NW., and I have been there since it has been occupied by the tenants.
I was the first person moved in there from the time it had been finished for occupancy, and I just want to make my statement very short.
Rents have been raised on us three times now. They did not notify us every time and I went to the commissioners about it some time ago, and they sent me over here to Senator Ball and I came.
We were paying at that time $33.50, and from that they raised it to $37.50, and then to $10, and from $40 they have sent me a notification that it will be $50, for three rooms, kitchenette, and bath.
The CHAIRMAN. When did you get notice of the last raise?
Mr. GRAHAM. Just two weeks ago, and I came over and filed that with the office of the secretary here. I wish you could send somebody over or have your inspector see the building. It is dilapidated very much and the service and heating are poor. I have witnesses here to bear my statement out. I have Mr. Bruce and I have another gentleman sitting behind you there. They sent him a notice of this high rent and threatened to put him out and were going to take him to court on the first of the month. He has to get out or go ta court. And I have Mrs. Scott and I want Mr. Bruce to testify that the water is cut off and they are paying $65 a month.
The building has gone to rack entirely. The paper on the wall is not sanitary. We have to do the best we can. I went down to sign the paper under protest of law. They did not want me to sign it, and my friend, Mr. Bruce, will state the facts if you will allow him to state his case. He is about to be put outdoors.
STATEMENT OF MR. L. MATHENY
Mr. MATHENY. I just wanted to add to my previous statement.
I heard that Mr. Petty would take care of any tenants who were being evicted, so I went to Mr. Petty and got a list of the properties for rent and the price of them, and they are falsely advertised from Mr. Petty's office.
He gave me 3015 M Street, four rooms and bath. There are three rooms and bath, with no light, no heat. It is supposed to be an unfurnished apartment. It is in a house over a store.
Then he gave me 623 M Street, five rooms and bath. That is a janitor's quarters, down by the furnace,
Next was 3331 N Street, three rooms, kitchen, and bath. That was rented.
Next was 1801 Georgia Avenue, three rooms and bath. There are two rooms and no bath.
Then he gave me 1200 Twenty-ninth Street, three rooms and bath. The building is falling down. The janitor's wife told me that she expected to find that down in the basement some morning.
So then he gave me Twelfth and K Streets SW. I don't own a motor boat, so I could not visit that one. It must be out in the river, because Twelfth and F is the last street down to the river.
That is the help I got from Mr. Petty in regard to findingThe CHAIRMAN (interposing). You visited all these places? Mr. MATHENY. Yes, sir; I personally visited them and inspected them, and none of them are fit to live in. They should be condemned.
The statement was made here last night by Mr. Reed that they had had no cases before the Rent Commission in the last three years, and in my own case, which has been before the commission in less than three years, the commission rendered this decision on March 12, 1923, not quite two years ago.
So, there is no property under $50 hardly that is fit to live in that can be found in the District. I have inspected, I think, practically every apartment other than the first-class apartments, and I do not go to those because I can not pay for them. I am like so many of the other Government employees.
I want to ask the committee if they want to do something
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Mr. Reed is here and he was sworn last evening, and he wishes to make just a statement in reply.
Mr. REED. I would like to state that I said that we had not had a Rent Commission case for two years. Mr. Matheny is mistaken in his statement. The record will show that I said two years rather than three years.
Mr. MATHENY. The newspapers gave it as three years. They said that you said there had not been any cases before the Rent Commission for the last three years.
Mr. REED. What is the date of your decision?
The CHAIRMAN. I think it perfectly proper, inasmuch as Mr. Reed is here, to have permitted him to make that statement.
Mr. MATHENY. That is all right; I have no objection.
STATEMENT OF MR. J. W. WILLIAMSON
(The witness was sworn by the chairman.) The CHAIRMAN. Please make it short.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Mr. Chairman, I live in apartment No. 404 of the Whitelaw Apartment, Thirteenth and T Streets NW. I moved there soon after the building was completed, in 1919. At that time I paid $33.50 for a four-room apartment. In 1921 it was increased to $37.50, and in 1922 it was increased to $40.
About a month ago I received a notice asking me to come to the office and sign a new contract, and it was stated that with the beginning of that contract the rent would be increased to $50, and if I failed to sign the new contract and pay the increase I would be put out. So I went to the office and offered to pay $40, what I had been paying for the last three years. They refused to accept it.
As I said, I could not pay the increased price. I was paying almost 50 per cent of my salary, and I could not afford it. That was on the 20th of this month, and on the 21st I received this eviction notice.
So, gentlemen, I do not see what I can do. I have a wife and child, and I do not know where to go, and they are about to put me out, and I can not pay the increased rent, because it is too much. I am not able to do so.
Then, another thing. The apartment is in bad condition. There has been no repairing done in my apartment since I moved in there. The walls are discolored and the paper is torn off and the heat is not good and the plumbing is bad, and it actually is not worth the money.
I live on the fourth floor in a back apartment. The back apartments rent for the same amount as the front apartments. The apartments on the fourth floor rent for the same amount that the apartments on the first, second, and third floors rent for. We have no elevator service. Of course we have to carry everything we get up the stairs. We have no lockers, we have no laundry room, and it is very inconvenient.
I hope the gentlemen of the committee will do something to relieve me and save me from being put outside.
The CHAIRMAN. I will have to close this testimony so far as the renters are concerned.
Is Mr. Matheny still in the room? (Mr. Matheny resumed the stand.)
The CHAIRMAN. I understand there are two Pettys connected with the real estate business here. Will you kindly state whether this was the Mr. Petty who is secretary of the Real Estate Board, or whether it was somebody else?
Mr. MATHENY. Mr. John Petty, the secretary of the Real Estate Board.
The CHAIRMAN. He gave you those addresses?
Now, if there are any independent-property owners who wish to testify, we will give them an opportunity to do so. The organized real estate people have had all the time that we can grant them, but, owing to some misunderstanding or misstatement in the papers yesterday, we thought there probably might be some independentproperty owners here who, because of that misunderstanding, thought that to-night was to be devoted to the independent-property
If there are none who wish to testify, the hearing will close, but we will give all an opportunity who wish to file affidavits in rebuttal, provided they are submitted to-morrow. Anything received later than to-morrow will not be considered in evidence.
Miss RICHARDSON. I wish to be heard.
STATEMENT OF MISS M. J. RICHARDSON
(The witness was sworn by the chairman.)
Miss RICHARDSON. The condition that I wish to state is one very peculiar, but perhaps it exists to a great extent, and that is that it has been brought to our notice in the missionary line that there is a man who is living at five different places, and in order to get these people out and raise the rent he is acting as a go-between. He goes there and he occupies a room for maybe a week or so and gets the people out that are occupying the place. That has come to our notice, that this one man is in five different places, and here right recently it came to the notice of a lady that owned one piece of property which was renting for $25, and he turned the “ frame,” the six-room “frame” into two apartments, and was renting it for $50, and the owner did not know anything about it.
Senator Jones of Washington. Who was this man?
Miss RICHARDSON. I would not like to state his name just yet. We are still investigating two other matters and want to get the whole thing together. That is a peculiar condition that is existing and perhaps is also existing in other places.