Box 7, Folder 10, Document 8

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Box 7, Folder 10, Document 8

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Statement by
JOHN W. GARD NER, Chairman
The Urban Coalition Action Council
before the
Subcommitte e on Employment, Manp ower and Poverty
Committee on Labo r and Public Wel f are
United States Se nate
April 23, 1969
Mr. Chai rman, we are pleas e d to b e h ere on behalf of the
Urba n Coa lition Ac t ion Council.
The Ac t ion Council brings to g ether
v a rious l e ad e rs f r o m s e gments t hat do no t n orma lly coll a bo r ate
for the purpose o f r eaching a gree me n t or s ol ut i ons t o ou r n ation ' s
dome stic pro b l e ms.
We a r e h ere tod a y t o disc u s s poverty i n the
Un i t ed S t ate s .
By cu rr e nt Soci a l Secur ity Administration c r i t eria th ere
are 2 2 milli o n poor p e op l e i n the Un ite d St at e s .
ha s d e c l ine d from 3 9 millio n in 1 959 .
The numb e r
To l ift 17 mi llion p e o ple
out o f pover t y i n 1 0 y e ars is a cons i der a b l e ach i eveme nt, worth
b earing in mind i n th ese d ay s of d i scou rageme nt.
It s houl d g ive
u s cou rag e and co n f i d e nc e t o tac k l e the rema i ni n g t a s k.
To le t the a c hi e vem e n t l e ad t o a s l a cke n ing o f effo r t
would b e t h e worst ki nd o f fo lly .
Twe n ty- t wo millio n p o or peop l e
repr ese nt a t reme ndous amount o f human misery a nd depriv ati o n.
-2In his excellent paper entitled "Who are the Urban Poor?"
Anthony Downs offers some highly relevant data.
Of the urban p oor,
the majority are white
almost half are in households that cannot be expected
to be self-supporting:
the aged, the disabled, the
mother with infant children
forty-one per cent are children under 18
nearly one-third a re in househ olds h e aded by employed
men whos e earni ngs are below the poverty leve l.
It is worth r eminding ourselves that the poverty remaining
after dec ade s of unp recede nted a fflu ence is riot like the poverty
th a t wa s once widespread in thi s count ry .
that rema ins.
It is the h ard-core
It is not the g e ntee l, thre a dbare but benign
poverty of the 19th Century clergyman or t each er.
It is poverty
at its mo s t stub bor n, pov erty rooted in th e s oci a l d i sintegration
of urban a nd rura l s lums , poverty linked to s evere cultu ra l
deprivation, poverty complicated by illite racy , phy ~ica l handicap,
advanc e d age , or me nta l r e t a r dation.
In s uch p overty , hung er a nd
ma lnutri t i on warp t h e no r ma l course of c hi ld develo pme nt; p hysica l
ai l me nt s go untreat ed and turn into li fe long h a ndic ap s; child re n
are n ever exposed t o the s timu l a tion t hat would e n s u re t heir
in te ll ec t ual deve l opme nt; the enviro nment breed s h opelessness a n d
l aw l essness.
It is a wor l d of v i c tims and it breeds v i c t ims.
An individual born into s u c h an environment does not--cannot-enjoy th e opportunity we regard as t h e birthr i ght of every
American child.
I f o u r commitment to the values we so proudly
profess doesn't move us to right that wrong, our self-interest
Out of all proportion to their numbe r s in the population,
the children of poverty become, in later life, economic burdens
on the rest of the community.
If we are unwilling to spend the
money to cure the problem at its source, we spend the money
later anyway--in the social cost of crime, narcotics addiction,
social unrest, mental illness, lifelong phy sical handicap and
so on.
The attack on poverty must be far broader and more varied
than is generally recognized.
We have to begin with management of the e conomy and with
attention to economic growth and full emplo yme nt.
Back of
every thing we seek to accomp l ish is the economic strength of
the n a tion.
That strength mak es our social programs p ossible .
It provides the jobs and pay ch ecks that enable most Americans
to e a t well, keep their childr en healthy and funct i on as
ind ependent citizens living thei r lives as they please.
We often fa ll into the h abit of t alking about ou r economy
as one thing and our socia l p r ograms as a completely d i fferent
subj e ct.
They are th e same subject.
main social program.
Economic growth is our
The freest and best money a ma n receives
is the mone y in his pay envelope.
The bes t program for creating
i ndependent and confident citi ze ns is a vital, full-employment
Therefo r~ we must expec t the Administration and the
Congr ess to use the tools of monetary and fisca l policy to
avoid inflation or recession, to facilitate capital growth
�-4where possibl e , to e xp and job o pportunities and job t r ai n ing,
to seek wag e -price stability , to encour a ge the development o f new
products and s~rvices and the adv ancement of science and
technolog y , to foster increased prod ucti vi t y , and to protect
natural resources.
The a ttack o n pov erty also calls for adequate progr a ms
of income mainte n a nce - -unemp loyme nt insur a n ce, social secu r i ty ,
public assistance, and probabl y new forms t o come.
These prog r ams
hav e no t be e n surrounde d with t h e glamou r that has touched some
othe r aspects of t he attac k o n p over t y ; ind e e d t h e publ i c
assis t ance pr o gram s h av e be e n the su b j e ct of widespr e ad ho st i lity.
But it is a p l ai n fa ct th a t mos t o f t he p oo r a re too ol d or t o o
young or t oo si c k o r disab l ed t o enter t h e j ob marke t .
No ma t ter
how bri l liant l y we pursue reme di a l prog rams , t h ere wil l a l way s
remain a large numb er wh o can only be aid ed by providing c ash
i ncome.
A comprehen s ive attack on poverty a lso requir e s that we
rehabili ta te the victims of poverty and e liminate the urban and
rural slums where poverty is bred.
To h e l p t he indi v i dua l we
mus t h ave adequate l y funded programs of educat ion, job training,
he al t h care and social services.
To ch ange the environment
involves massive urban efforts f suc h as the programs called for
in the Housing Act of 1 968 ; as well as region a l and rural
development activities such as the Appalachian Program.
In short, the total effort to deal with poverty reaches
into every domestic department of government.
As you know, the
Office of Economic Opportunity has controlled something less than
-58% of all federal antipoverty funds expended during its life.
Agencies with far more resources at their disposal are concerned
with. housing, manpower, health and other needs of the poor.
we do not adequately fund those broader programs, the attack on
poverty will be crippled.
1 would place particular emphasis on
modernization of the e x isting welfare prog r am,
including Fed e ral support of national welfare
standard s , and hopefull y , early consideration of
a more thoroug hgoing revision of the national income
maintenance s y stem
a stepp e d -up training p r o g ram with built-in incentives, bett e r t ai lor ed to the n eeds of the s e ver a l
c a t ego rie s of poo r , e.g ., t he we l fare mothe rs, the
uns ki l led t eenager, t he employed l ow earning family
he ad
Jo b creat i on--an exp a nded JOBS program t o i n c re a se
p r i vate emp lo yme nt, a nd a publ ic serv i ce emp loyment
p rog ram
educa tion , h e alth a nd nutritio na l progr am s to
c ounter the e f fec ts of pov e r ty on th e con s i dera bl e
number o f ch i ldr e n g r o wi ng u p in poo r f amili e s.
We mu s t beg in to t h ink i n terms of mu ch hi ghe r l e v e l s o f
fu nding in are as affec t ing t he poor .
Actua l appro priat io ns
ge ne ra l ly are significant l y be l ow a u t ho rized appropriat i ons,
We o ften h ea r t ha t pover t y programs are failures; t hat t h ey d o
not work.
And yet, they se l dom are given the necessar y funds or
�-6the long-range commitment to insure their success.
Some examples wi ll show the glaring disparities between
authorizations and appropriations.
The Model Cities program--
intended as a coordinated attack on blight and treating social
as well as physical problems--was given $625 million last year
although more than $1 billion was authorized.
This year only
$675 million has b ee n requested, with an authorized amount of
$1.3 billion.
The home o wne r ship and rental assistance provisions of
the Housing and Urb a n Development Act called f or $150 million
the first year , and onl y $50 mi llion was appropriated.
funds have been fully committ e d f o r several months, and many
are beginning to quest io n serious l y t he gove r nment I s c o1mn i tme nt
under the Ho u s in g Act .
The Nix on Adm in istratio n is re questin g
full fu nding for th e se prog ram s a nd Congress must act o n this
reque st i f the Ho u s ing Act i s to meet i ts p r omise.
Th e Off i c e of Economic Oppo rt u ni t y has consistently
failed t o sec ur e full appr o pr i at io ns.
And in educ a tion and
he a l th, the re h as bee n a no t ice a ble f a ilure to spend the
amoun t s n e c e s sary to have a n imp act o n pove rty.
Title I of the
Element ary and Se c onda r y Educ a tion Act, which pro v ides fede r a l
funds to s chool d i stri ct s tha t have sp eci a l pro j ec t s f o r disadv an t age d ch i ld ren, r e c e i ved a n author i za tion of $2. 7 2 6 bi lli o n
i t was a llowed o nly $1.1 2 3 b illion i n a p propr i ated f unds .
And so the story goes .
It i s u nreal i stic to believe we c an
s ol ve ou r nation ' s problems i f we do not prov i de even the auth orized
funds after long and studied debate over proposed solutions.
7 -
And now let me tu r n specifically to e x tension of the
Economic Opp o r tun ity Act a nd the Offi ce o f Economic Opportunity.
Mr. Chairman, in preparation for this testimony , I
revi ewed the history of the Office of Economic Opp or tunity
since 196 4 , a nd I must s a y that I am impre ss e d with the role
that t h is Committe e ha s pl a y e d.
and in s i g ht.
The Committee has shown concern
It h a s worked h a rd to educa te itsel f a nd to se rv~
as a n advo cate f or t h e poor.
It is e a s y to critici ze the hectic e a rly years of the OEO.
But wh en the smo ke cl ears away; I b el i eve th a t history wil l r eco r d
si gnif i cant achievement s .
The OEO ' s vigor o us efforts stirr ed a
concern for the victims of poverty tha t made p o ssible a
mobilizat i on of resources r eaching far beyond t he agen c y its e lf.
Programs in beha l f o f the poor in every othe r dome s tic d e p artme nt
be n ef itte d by the g enera tive f o rce of t his new e ff ort.
that, the OEO has inj ec ted a n ele ment o f innovation into a
numbe r of programs addressed t o the problems o f th e poor; it has
ide nti fied and f o stered community l eadership a mong the poor and
among minorities; a nd it h as enabled m~ny of us to ga in valuable
insight s into the imp a ct o f insti tutional inade quacies on the
li ves o f the poor.
Looki ng to the f uture , I want to speak very briefly of
thr ee themes which were p romine nt in the ear l y concepti on o f
OEO' s function:
innova tion, community parti cipation and
The i nnov at ive approach must continue to characterize the
The infusion of " research and development" t e chniques
8 -
into social program areas should be firmly supported and
The innovative approach is well illustrated in the delive r y
of services to the poor .
Breaking out of the mold of
traditional agency patterns, the b es t poverty programs h ave
shown that legal and heal th services, pre-school education,
multi- service progr am integration in n e ighborhood centers and
other te chni ques could in fa ct reach p ers ons long con s i dered
unre achab le.
It is not gene rally reco gn i zed th a t t he innova ti ve
activi ties o f OEO had a far- r each i ng imp a ct on the old- l ine
departme nts.
The latter would b e loath to admi t
it , but many
p r ograms undertake n by the old -l ine departme nts betwee n 1 965
and 1 96 8 we r e inf l uenced by t he philosophy of the OEO.
At th e h eart of th e controversy surrounding the OEO has
b een th e ques tio n of public power for the poor.
The "War o n
Poverty " provi ded t h e first ma jor t ools wi th which the poor
could seri ously affec t some po lic ies and programs at both the
national and th e local l evels.
It is t r u e that in a typic a lly
Ame ric a n burst o f e nthusiasm, the OEO wen t at this task with a
maximum of energy and a minimum o f reflect i on.
But perhaps
su c h things c an only be a ccomplished in a burst of enthusiasm.
I a m thoroughly fami li ar with the problems, inconsistencies,
ten s ions and mi stakes that h a ve arisen fro m appl icati on of
the requirement for "max imum feasible participation."
But we
are more skillful in handling thos e prcblems today than we were
two y ears ago, and we are still learning.
It was wise to seek
9 -
to give a voice to the poor, particularly wi se in the case of
minority groups
(because of their systematic prior exclusion).
I believe that we will move towa rd incr easing l y sound and
effective f o rms of citizen pa rt icipation .
Eve n today, as my own staff mo~es about the country
helping to organize local urb a n co a litions and se e king the
cooperat ion of le aders from the bla ck community, we find that
many of th e ablest local lead e r s we can r e cruit for our purposes
ar e me n and wome n who had t hei r first tast e of leadership in
th e Community Action Programs .
I h ave emphas i z e d th at the attack on poverty , broad l y
con ceived, r eaches into every dome s tic d e partme nt.
multif a rious a cti v ity cr i e s out for coord inat ion, and of
cour s e the OEO was p l a ced in th e Ex ecut ive Offic e of the
Preside nt to ac c ompl i sh jus t t h at.
As we all know, it n eve r
di d , p a rtl y b e c a u s e it s energ i e s went in to op er a ting new
prog r a ms, and p art l y b ecaus e coord in at ing Ca bine t me mb e rs is
a difficult t ask a t b es t .
OEO' s achievemen t s in coord i na t i o n hav e not b ee n
alto ge th er neg l ig i b l e.
I t h as wo r k ed out che c kpo i nt pro ced ur e s
th r ou g h which federal agencies , grantees, st ate agenc i es and
lo ca l c ommunities engage in mutua l consu l tati o n before grants
are made.
And i t has developed joi n t projects such a s th ose
i nvolv i ng displaced farm workers i n th e Mississipp i De l ta,
I ndians, and migrant workers.
But much, much more is needed.
I believe that my views
on the coordination of domestic programs are fairly well known.
�- 10 \
I do not accept the widely sh a r e d notion that Cabinet membe rs
cannot be coordinated.
The y can b e .
The first requireme nt
is unflinching de termination on the part of the Preside nt to
bring abo ut that r es ult.
The second is a suitable instrume ntality
(and I may say p are ntheti ca ll y th a t the Economic Opportunity
Council, properly u sed , wou ld h ave bee n quite a dequat e to the ·
purpo se ).
The t hird requir eme nt is that th e instrumen tali ty
must b e h eaded by a ma n o f stature, implicitly t~ust ed by the
Pres ident .
There i s a serious quest i on as to wheth er OEO can ever
fill t his coordi nat ing function so long as i t
is an o p er a t ing
ag ency -- and th eref ore, in a se ns e, a compe titor o f th e
departme nts it hopes to coo rdinate.
So we may h ave to look to
Preside nt Nixon ' s n ew Urba n Affairs Council to accomplish
the d e sired result.
It will do so onl y if the President hims e l f
takes an active inter es t
in it , and o n l y i f a s trong and
subst ant i al professional staff is prov ided to pl a n, ev a luate,
sift p r i or iti e s , develop a lterna tive cour ses of action and make
recommenda t i ons to the President.
Whil e we 're on t his s u b j ec t
I wan t to say a word abo ut
rural poverty, because it involves the question of coordination.
We wi ll not solve our most pressing urban prob l ems as long as
widespread rural poverty exists .
The h eavy migration from rural
America to the blighted areas of our major cities clearly shows
how b ad economic and social conditions are in rura l areas;
de spite the privations felt by the urban poor, dehuman izing
urban conditions continue to represent a substantial improvement
�- 11 -
over life for the poor in rural communities.
With improving agricultur a l technology, ever more per~ons
will have to find employ ment outside agricultur e .
Already the
great majorit y of the rural poor are not in any way involved
in farming.
Industri a l de v elopme nt in rural ar e as should be
vastly e xpande d wh e r eve r suffici e nt potential e x ists .
State s a r e unique l y situated to combat rural poverty .
Programs of eco n omic a nd co~munity d e vel opme nt in rural ar ea s
frequently require multi - coun ty planning a nd coordination.
Federal funds, includin g CAP fun d s, shoul d encour a g e the
deve lopme nt of s ta te -coo r d ina t ed d e mon st r ati ons in rur a l ar eas
-- p e r haps s evera l in each s t at e -- with s pe cial emp hasi s on
economi c deve l opment and o n tr a i n ing o f admi ni s t rat i ve and
pro gram personne l for a ll ph a s e s o f community d evelopment ,
fro m pub l ic admini s tr a tion t o staff for socia l we l fare agencies.
Such d emonstrations should extend to educ a tion, h ealth,
i ndustrial d eve lopment, tra n sportation and al l o th er re l evant
fie l ds .
Obviousl y , programs o f th a t scope are not t h e a ppr opr i a t e
primar y function of the De p ar tment of Agri cultur e a lo ne ; rath er ,
th ere shoul d be a coordinated attack b y the Dep artmen t s o f
Agricult ure, Labor, Hous i ng and Urban Development, Transportation,
Health, Education a nd We lfare, and the Economi c Development
Administratio n.
The OEO mig h t conceivably be t he in strumen t for
accomplishin g such coordination a lthough -- as indica ted
earlier -- its capacity to oper ate and coordinate at the same
time remains in doubt.
In the fin a l analys i s , subst a ntial economic d evelopment
is the key to e nding rur a l poverty .
There is at p res e nt no
fed e ral policy g uiding the app licati o n o f the nation's
con s ide r a ble potenti a l in this are a .
Re sources of the
Ec onom{c Deve lopme nt Admi nistr a tion c an be broug ht to b ear only
where the most s e v e r e cond iti ons alre ady e x ist, a nd even then
there is virtually n o coord i nat i on be t wee n the Ec onomic
Deve l opment Ad mi nis t r a t i o n and ma jor fede r a l age ncy
p r ocur e me n t a n d cont racting f u nct i ons .
There h a s been much d i scu ss i o n o f wh e ther t he v ariou s OEO
p r ograms s hou ld be move d to the regular departme nts .
I be lieve
that some definitely shoul d be t ransferred under c arefully
d rawn cond iti ons.
I con fess t ha t I am equal l y i mpat i ent with
thos e who are tot a lly ho s til e to the OEO and tho se who want
to preserve it u nder g l ass, utterly uncha nged .
I need not remind th i s Committee that about 40 % of the
funds appropriated u nder th e Economi c Oppor tunity Act have
a l ways gone i nto programs delegated among variou s federa l
age n cies.
The great bulk of these funds h as gone into a series
of wo rk and training programs, a n d th ey have been the basis for
much innovation wi th in the receiving agencies .
I am keenly conscious of the problems involved in transfer.
Fo r example , federal departments presently function heavily
through state agencies; they do not, in the main, have stron g
relationships to local l eadersh ip and organization.
If the
departme nts receive programs from OEO they must continue to
foster the new constituencies developed around the programs
�- 13 -
at the local level, and Congress must encourage them to do so.
Similarly, they must protect th e innovative values of the
transferred programs.
If these programs cannot survive in the regular agencies
as the latter are presently org anized, then th ere is something
gravely wrong with the regular agencies, something that
should be corrected forthwith.
To insure an appropriate outcome, it seems advisable that,
at least initi al l y , delegation should be favored over outright
Transf er should occur only as the regular agencies
prove their capacity to nurtur e the delegated programs.
�- 14 -
I have been asked my v i ews on how ma ny years the present
legislation should be extended.
I do not have fixed views on
that sub j e ct, provided th at two princi ples are ob se rved .
first i s that eve ry program should be open to pe r iodic r evision
as experience is ga ine d .
The s e cond is that the nation s hould
exhi bit an unwaveri ng commitment to fight the poverty battle
continuously , thi s yea r a n d nex t and the year after , never
relenting until t h e j ob is d one .
It is not an of f- aga in - on -
again kind of prob l e m and it do e sn 't me rit tha t kind of answer.
In c losing , gen tl emen , let me reve r t again to the
tota li ty of the gover nme nt's effort in combatting p overty.
am firmly convinced t h at mo re billions mu st b e p o ure d i mmed i ate ly
into th e broad s pectrum of hou s in g , edu ca tion , h ea lth, ma n p owe r
d eve l opment , a nd othe r federa l pro grams which make up the
broader anti-poverty package.
Millions are st il l hu ngry, or
live in i nadequate ho us i ng ; the ma j ority of p oo r head s o f
households work ful l time ; hea l t h services are still i naccessib l e
to millions ; school systems and entire ci t ies across the country
are facing bankruptcy whi l e provi ding minima l services to needy
We can and must dea l with those p roblems at once.

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