Editorial, Greater Private Housing Construction. July 6, 1948
Original Source: Trud, 6 July 1948.
The program for housing construction which is being carried into effect in our country is imbued with Stalinist concern for human beings, and for raising the material and cultural level of the life of the Soviet people. The scale of this program is enormous: we must replenish the housing reservoir destroyed during the years of the war and develop new construction on a scale that will insure a substantial improvement in the housing conditions of the workers. Indeed, only the Soviet state, for which the interests and needs of the people are pre-eminent, is a match for such a task.
Not only is the Soviet state itself constructing buildings for the workers; in addition to this, it is extending great aid to the residents of cities and workers’ settlements who are erecting their own private dwellings. The law on the Five-Year Plan provides that individual tenant-builders, with the aid of state credits, will construct buildings representing a total living space of 12,000,000 square meters during the five-year period.
This task is being performed vigorously. Let us recall that in the past year alone, houses with a living space of 4,000,000 square meters, constructed by the population itself, have been made available for occupation. Tens of thousands of coal miners, metallurgical workers, oil workers, and machine builders — workers and employees in the most varied industries — moved into new dwellings that they had constructed with the help of state credits.
Today there are many opportunities for developing private construction still more extensively. From year to year the Government has been granting large funds for financing individual tenant-builders. Nearly 1,500,000,000 rubles have been earmarked for this purpose during the present year. This generous help from the state must be used intelligently and economically.
This depends to a large degree upon the directors of the Ministries and enterprises. Indeed, it is not only a matter of granting state loans to workers or employees. Tenant-builders need help from many quarters and in many forms. It is no accident that many collective contracts contain clauses obligating the administrations to cooperate with tenant-builders in acquiring materials, supplying transportation, and arranging for technical consultation.
Where these pledges are not only set down on paper, but fulfilled to the letter and on time, fine results have been achieved.
At Mine No. 4 of the Skuratovagol Trust, nearly 200 miners are building their own houses this year. This work is progressing successfully, since the administration is extending effective aid to the miners: the component parts of the future homes are prefabricated and processed in special workshops, and experienced construction foremen help the tenant-builders assemble them on a previously prepared site. All this building is being carried out in accordance with a special construction curve, which is calculated in such a way that the miners will be able to celebrate Miner’s Day in their new quarters.
According to their collective contract, the administration of the Karakubsk Mine Board (Stalinsk Region) must supply a large quantity of various materials for private construction. This pledge is being strictly observed. The miners’ committee of the trade-union is constantly on the alert to see that not a single request of the tenant-builders goes unheeded. And it is quite understandable that, with such a working arrangement, more dwellings than were scheduled by the collective contract should have been erected here last year, and that the plan should be over-fulfilled this year.
Such achievements are numerous. But there must be many more; private construction must be pushed with considerably more speed and success. Meanwhile, the utilization of funds allotted for the financing of this all-important work is still proceeding very slowly at the present time. The situation in the enterprises of the Ministry for the Oil Industry of the Southern and Western Districts is especially unsatisfactory.
In some enterprises private construction is still regarded as a task of minor importance, one whose performance may be postponed because it is a secondary issue. Is it necessary to demonstrate the impropriety and harmfulness of such a viewpoint?
Helping the worker to provide himself with his own house and substantially improving housing conditions will insure the creation of permanent cadres in industrial enterprises.
Active aid to workers and employees who are constructing their own homes is the duty of the trade-unions. A vast field of activity has been opened here for each and for each trade-union organization. A check must be made from day to day as to how the administration is fulfilling the pledges contained in the collective contract, and as to whether everything possible is being done so that tenant-builders may receive loans, plots of ground, materials, and technical aid on time.
Genuine concern for the needs and demands of the tenant-builders is the decisive factor for success in this work. The directors of the Karl Marx Mine (Ordzhonikidze Coal Trust) are pledged to supply the latter with motor transportation, according to the collective contract. This pledge is being ostensibly fulfilled–the vehicles are being supplied. It has been decided, however, to charge the miners 28 rubles per hour for their use – more than double the operating costs. The mine committee of the trade-union (headed by Comrade Shchepanenkov), through its vigorous intervention, was quite right in securing the revocation of this improper order.
Careful control must be maintained over the utilization of credits granted by the state. Unfortunately, by no means all factory and plant committees have organized such control. As a result there are frequent cases in which funds earmarked for financing private construction are being utilized by enterprises for quite different purposes. It happens that persons are found among the tenant-builders who obtain loans without intending to build a house, and spend them for other needs.
What is this vicious practice leading to? To a delay in the circulation of state funds and, hence, to a situation in which workers who actually need credit for construction cannot receive it in due time. The same thing is also caused by a delay in repaying loans received from the state; bank workers who permit great indebtedness on the part of tenant-builders are to blame for this.
The third quarter has arrived–the time of greatest activity for individual tenant-builders. Not a single day must be lost at the height of the season. Indeed, it must be recalled that in most enterprises the first months of the year have been spent primarily in adjusting credits and in completing construction held over from last year. The main work lies ahead, and it must be conducted in an exact and organized manner, without delay.
A mass check on the fulfillment of collective contracts is presently in progress. The strictest attention must be given to pledges for the development of private construction. To see that tenant-builders receive the full measure of aid that the administration is pledged to extend them is a matter of honor for trade-union organizations. In this way, they will assist in a more rapid and successful solution of the housing problem, and will contribute to further improvement in the living conditions of the workers.
Source: Soviet Press Translations. Vol. III (No. 16, September 15, 1948), pp. 503-504.