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Susan Green

Seek “Compromise” Formula
to Boost Rents

Tenants Must Organize to Stop Direct OR INDIRECT Steal
by Congressional Servants of Real Estate Lobby

(17 March 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 11, 17 March 1947, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The bill for a ten per cent across-the-board rent increase has been help up in the Senate Banking and Currency Committee. The unpopularity of this measure with everybody but the real estate lobby, has given the politicians some second thoughts. After all, 50,000,000 tenants wield a lot of votes.

Senator Tobey (R., N.H.) is reported in favor of a compromise measure. It seems that Senator Sparkman (D., Ala.) has actually introduced to the committee a so-called compromise bill. It would provide no rent increase by Congress, but return rent control to the several states. This is the sort, of “compromise” by which the realtors would get their increased rents anyway.

The effect of the Sparkman bill, if passed, would be to banish the issue of rent control from the national scene as a whole, and allow each state quietly to kill rent control and to give the landlords unfettered freedom to charge what they please.

Another development on the rent front is that Senator Tobey, who chairmans the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, has received a request from Fiorello H. La Guardia to reopen hearings. The “Little Flower” once again steps into the political limelight, now as chairman of a newly formed National Fair Rent Committee. La Guardia wants hearings continued before the Senate committee to give tenants a chance “to combat the real estate lobby’s drive to break rent ceilings.”

Among the notables acting with the former New York City mayor are Chester Bowles, former OPA administrator; ex-Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace; Charles Bolte, chairman of the American Veterans Committee; James B. Carey, secretary-treasurer of the Congress of Industrial Organizations; and others. The reported objective of the National Fair Rent Committee is to continue rent control through June 1948 without a general rent increase.

However, the new committee is not opposed to specific rent boosts “where the financial facts justify such action.” This concern for the financial hardships suftered by landlords is in line with the Truman administration’s policy which right now results in more than 30,000 rent hikes each month.

La Guardia announced that “It is our hope to assist the many tenants’ leagues and associations in making their voice as effective in the halls of Congress as the highly financed, lush lobby of the real estate interests who have attempted to jam rent legislation through the Congress.”

There is certainly no objection to making the voice of the tenants of the nation heard. But we must remember that the case of the tenants has already been ably presented in the Senate Banking and Currency Committee by leaders of the CIO and AFL, for instance. But their facts and figures and appeals for consideration of the hardships suffered by tenants made little or no impression on the committeemen.

There are places from which the voice of the tenants can be heard much better than in Senate committee rooms. Neighborhood tenant organizations throughout the nation, holding protest meetings in their own localities, can make dozing committeemen sit up and take notice. In a word, the tenants cannot rely on a committee to do something for them in Washington.

There must be solidly organized tenant groups in every block, determined to resist rent boosts. Their voice lifted in public demonstrations against rent finagling in Washington would definitely reach the ears of the politicians.

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Last updated: 3 January 2022