HomeThe house famine and how to relieve itPagina 33

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, r _ be said that at last the community is becoming aware of the
‘ fact that it spends vast sums of money, and wastes labor­eHiciency
and human life to an appalling degree, in order that a group of
·its members may make a living out of the homes of their
, fellow­men.
A It has been pointed out that the restrictions imposed upon a
( " local authority are so onerous, that the great diihculty seems to be,
( how to provide accommodation, at cost price, which shall be able to
compete-zäz the eyes of Z/ze average wor/ëzäzg man-with what he
T considers similar accommodation offered by the private builder.
ï The municipality must put more capital into the same sized house,
· and it must spend this extra amount on advantages which the
average person is only just commencing to appreciate, such as better
building materials, house and sanitary fittings, foundations, etc.*
The rent that the tenant has to pay, when analyzed, consists
, roughly of four factors : -
( (1) Interest on capital ; ~
; (2) Sinking-fund instalment;
Y (3) Repairs and maintenance ;
(4) Rates;
and these, for the average municipal dwelling, will, if added together,
make up a rent nearly as high as is charged by the private speculator
i for a property which gives a much higher gross return, but repre-
i sents a much smaller capital sum. Municipalities now make 6 to 8
per cent. gross return, private builders expect IO to I5 per cent., or
even more. Then the local authority allows for, and carries out,
repairs, and these are rarely done by the private owner of small
» property, who, in most cases, leaves them to the tenant. The present
al transition stage of competition with the private owner is a difficult
one for the authority. The poorer classes want cheap houses, must
have them; they understand what a saving of sixpence a week in
the rent means, but they do not understand yet the advantages of
· concrete foundations, properly jointed drain pipes, or wash-down
J water-closets. They do not mind taking a few lodgers into an
_ _ already well­iilled house, because they understand the advantage of a
few shillings a week, but they do not understand that each in-
; habitant of a sleeping­room should have at least I,OOO cubic feet of
E air space. In fact, public authorities have to offer, under the present
law, a healthier article, at a price as high, or even higher, than is at
· present paid, to those who are both very ignoraut and very poor; (
and this competitive disadvantage is further enhanced by a rigid 9
enforcement of regulations necessarily attaching to property let by ‘
a sanitary authority. Such regulations are of the utrnost educational i
value, but are not yet understood or appreciated. ·
But, supposing the l0oked­for improvement in the power of
Q authorities, and the other advantages referred to above, were
realized. With lengthened loan periods, lowered interest, simpler i
* Cf Local Government Board Model Bye-Laws, under which Public Authorities
E must build, and the loose " Building Regulations " of Districts (Urban and Rum1)_ `
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