February 24, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
The availability of adequate AND AFFORDABLE housing was written about in the Junction City newspaper in 1949. The rent controls, which had been enacted during WWII, were being repealed across the nation as towns and cities attempted to deal with the challenges of hundreds of thousands of GI’s starting families and getting an education now made obtainable with the GI Bill. In Junction City and Fort Riley the housing problem was an old and familiar one. Early in 1949, the Army announced that 38 sets of temporary family quarters were being made available for non-commissioned officers of the first three grades at Fort Riley. The “temporary” nature of these billets was being emphasized because they were being converted from the old wood barracks, which were hastily constructed at Camp Funston during the war. Each unit would have only three rooms, which included a kitchen, bath and living room doubling as a bedroom. If these quarters were too small for men with large families, it was announced they could refuse the billet and wait for assignment to a larger space in the Camp Whiteside area.
In the same issue of the “Junction City Union” newspaper a letter was printed in the “Public Opinion” column in which a local veteran shared his feelings about why rent control was still needed. This writer was D. J. Smith and he claimed that veterans would not have enough money left to buy shoes if they had to pay $100 a month more for rent. He noted that his rent had just been raised by $5.50 per month, which gave his landlord an increase of $264 a year. Mr. Smith went on to state that he had lived in the apartment for five years and the plaster and wall paper were in bad condition when he moved in and the landlord would not spend a cent to improve it. Mr. Smith told about an Army officer who lived in a remodeled two-room garage apartment with the only entrance being on the alley surrounded by trash burners and garbage cans. The Lieutenant paid $75.00 plus utilities just to have a place to live. It was perceived by some in 1949 that rent controls were needed in Junction City. Some may even say the same today.