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Reform Jews Seek Elimination of Bias in Housing: Submit Testimony

May 7, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, parent body of American Reform congregations, today urged the appointment of a Presidential Committee to recommend “a complete program for the elimination of discrimination in Federal Housing and urban renewal programs.”

The proposal was made in a statement submitted to the hearing on housing of the Federal Commission on Civil Rights by Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch, director of the Chicago Federation of the UAHC. The statement was endorsed by the Chicago Rabbinical Association.

Asserting that the shortage of adequate housing was “at the root of the housing problem,” the UAHC urged federal and local housing administrations to increase the supply of public and private housing, “particularly for lower and middle-income families.”

Rabbi Hirsch charged that present public housing “frequently results in the perpetuation and intensification of segregation,” and that the UAHC therefore recommended a limitation on the size of housing projects and that the site “be such as to permit the residents to become integrated into the total community. One of the major objectives should be to strive for a mixed rather than a uniform racial community pattern.”


The UAHC urged abandonment of the policy of allowing state and local laws to determine whether the Federal Government “will lend financial support and sanction to segregated housing.” Charging that policies of federal housing agencies “have aided and abetted discrimination,” the UAHC declared that “these policies should be renounced and clauses should be inserted in every legislation, code and policy procedure committing everyone involved in the disbursement or the receipt of any federal funds to observe a firm policy of no discrimination.”

The UAHC said all Government officials, elected or appointed, should themselves demonstrate in their own sale, purchase or building of their own housing practice of anti-bias policies. The UAHC asserted that “some of our most prominent officials are themselves parties to ‘gentlemen’s agreements’.” The Federal Government, having jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, “should set the example for all states by enforcing the laws against discrimination in housing in Washington, D. C.”

The Civil Rights Commission was urged to ignore the debate about “which comes first, law or education,” as “futile” by the UAHC which added “a human society needs -both. ” The Commission was urged to recommend the adoption of state and local legislation to prevent bias in housing.

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