Martin Harvey

Detroit Negro Housing Situation

(26 February 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 9, 26 February 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DETROIT – The Negro housing situation is still simmering in this city. The most recent development was the attempt of the Detroit Housing Commission to throw cold water into the pot to keep the housing situation from boiling over.

On February 15 the Housing Commission approved a resolution recommending the immediate construction of 1,000 Negro housing units in the Oakwood section of Detroit. The previous day Charles F. Edgecomb, secretary and director of the Housing Commission, had told the City Council that the commission had no real solution to the Negro housing problem “and is not likely to have one.” At the same, time he said that the commission would recommend the construction of 4,000 units in the Oakwood section.

Despite the fact that Edgecomb had told the Council that 4,000 units would not materially affect the 14,000 applications for Negro housing now on file, the figure was finally cut to 1,000 units. The 14,000 applications are being increased by 600 every month.

This decision of the Housing Commission, which can only be considered as a face-saving gesture, is just another episode in the continual buck-passing that has attended the discussions of the housing situation. Edgecomb had previously dumped the housing problem into the lap of the City Council. The august city fathers immediately dumped it right out again into the lap of Mayor Jeffries.

The Mayor was even quicker than the Council and passed it right back. Now the Council has it right back where it started from – in the Detroit Housing Commission. The net result of all this simulated activity? One thousand units recommended.

The president of the City Council, John C. Lodge, remarked that “We will never solve the problem. At least there will be no solution in our lifetime.” If the Negroes of Detroit will wait for a solution to the housing crisis from Lodge and his brother politicians, they will find no solution “in their lifetime.” The answer is to sweep these gentlemen out. They have had their opportunity. They have had many long years to talk and to act. In all those years the crisis only grew until today it threatens the social and physical life of the city.

It remains only for the Negro people to unite with the labor movement, the UAW-CIO, and challenge the control of these capitalist politicians. It is time for the workers of Detroit to stop playing around with Democratic and Republican politicians. Let the working class try its hand at running the city.

Last updated on 7 December 2017