Housing Problems for Returning WWII Veterans

The end of World War II was the beginning of a new set of problems for Gallatin veterans. The vets were coming “home,” but there wasn’t any “home” for them to return to. A Gallatin survey revealed there were at least 25 new houses needed since there weren’t any vacant houses nor rooms to rent.

The end of World War II was the beginning of a new set of problems for Gallatin veterans. The vets were coming “home,” but there wasn’t any “home” for them to return to. A Gallatin survey revealed there were at least 25 new houses needed since there weren’t any vacant houses nor rooms to rent.

The Gallatin Rotary Club passed a resolution backing a building program for the purpose of alleviating the housing shortage and also to curb inflation of real estate values.
The problem came to light when a man went to buy a permit to build in the city. He found a building priority for a home was impossible to obtain unless the town in which he resided had a set building quota. Gallatin didn’t have any such quota.

Building quotas were based on each particular town and an investigation of Gallatin revealed several factors had to be resolved before a quota could be set. A few of these factors were:

1. There were eight or more families without places to live and several others were inadequately housed

2. Property values had inflated from 100% to 300%

3. Many retired farmers were moving to town

4. Several returning veterans had expressed wanting to live in Gallatin.

A proposal was set up by the FPHA (Federal Public Housing Authority) stating they’d furnish pre-fabricated houses of a war-housing type and ship the parts to Gallatin for assembly. The housing units would remain federally owned. They would be four, five, or six bedroom homes and modern in every way.

Only discharged veterans or families of servicemen were eligible to apply for the accommodations. Before applications could be made for the temporary housing, an estimate of community needs had to be made. All veterans and servicemen’s families who wanted the accommodations were urged to sign up for them. The number of houses to be asked for depended upon the number of people interested in securing this type of housing.

In January 1946, Gallatin made application for 15 temporary family units to be occupied by discharged veterans and the families of servicemen. Additional units were to be ordered if the houses were being utilized and proved to be satisfactory. The government would furnish pre-fabricated war-housing type dwellings delivered prepaid by the city. The cost of a site and connecting the utilities would be paid to the city. The rent, at a very nominal cost of $22 a month, was to be charged to the veterans and families.

The application was turned down because the quota for the houses had been exhausted. Both the project requested and the number size of the housing administration was too small. They’d substitute 10 trailers. In February, 1946, 10 family trailers were ordered and were to be of two sizes, 7′ x 22′ one bedroom units and three 22′ x 22′ bedroom units. Each trailer had their water and electricity. The trailers would be allotted to the applicants in the order the requests were received.

Dockery Park was chosen for the site because there’d be less work and expense. There’d be little grading and sodding to be done, sidewalks and gavel driveways were already built and present light and water facilities were nearby. Rent from the trailers would go to the FPHA after the expenses of maintenance were deducted. FPHA retained the title to the buildings. Families of servicemen and veterans were the only eligible tenants of the trailers. Also included were men seeking accommodation so they could bring their families stationed outside the locality.

Near the end of February, Gallatin was assured of its trailer colony housing project. The FPHA would provide the materials and the labor for the construction of two baths and laundry buildings at the trailer site. The building would be 29 ˝’ x 23′ and would cost $8,300. The project had been turned down earlier by the city officials due to the scarcity of materials and labor.

In May 1946, the government agreed to relieve the city of any responsibility in building construction. The bath and laundry building was approved for the colony. Under the proposal the city would sign a contract with the housing authority to build the structure, with the government agency paying the bill. The city was to hire the labor, buy the material, and supervise the construction. The building was to be centrally located in the trailer colony.

— by Wilbur Bush