ECA Telegram File: FRC Acc. No. 53 A 278: Paris ECATO: Telegram
The Deputy Administrator for Economic Cooperation ( Foster ) to the ECA Mission in France
Subject: French Industrial Housing Problem.
Ecato 1172. Following is joint State, Treasury, ECA cable:
- Agreed here that failure to place greater emphasis on continuous concrete measures toward improvement of living conditions of French working classes may compromise effectiveness of present programs to achieve U.S. military and economic objectives in France over next few years.
- ECA views on seriousness of this problem and importance of industrial worker housing program in its solution have been set forth in Foster–Timmons letter of August 25.1 We believe that there is no question that U.S. Government should encourage expansion French low-cost housing program in immediate future. French cannot afford to fail to come to grips with this problem now.
- We are aware that there will be political, financial and engineering difficulties to be overcome if a larger housing program for urban industrial workers is to be carried out successfully in the immediate future. We are aware of the many plausible and practical arguments which will be advanced to you by some parts of French Government in opposition to such a program. We feel, however, that there is an overriding necessity to build the will to resist Communist subversion among French industrial workers. The provision of tangible benefits to such workers in the form of housing will support this purpose. We believe that, once launched, such a program would have widespread popular and Parliamentary support.
- U.S. housing objective is to secure the actual expenditure of at least 50 billion francs during calendar 51 for low-cost housing for urban industrial workers. Such housing should be located with due regard to the need for housing by workers necessary to the expanding French rearmament effort. The “red belt” suburban area of Paris might well be considered as starting point.
- It is recognized here that the ECA Mission, Embassy, and OSR will have to choose the appropriate weapons and tactics to be used in achieving the desired objective. ECA/W will undertake to provide the necessary technical assistance to implement whatever plan of action you propose. Additional ECA programs designed to assist French industrial workers are in the process of preparation and will be communicated to you shortly. It is clearly desirable that the housing program agreed to by the French be such that the U.S. will be identified as a strong advocate of it, and that the program be the subject of a widespread information campaign. The actual earmarking of 50 billion francs or more of counterpart funds for this purpose will be optional with you depending upon the tactics you choose to achieve the objective.
- U.S. objective is fully consistent with U.S. position taken in recent financial and military talks with French in Washington. In technical discussions French were informed that U.S. Government believed that 1951 budget expenditures could be cut in several places and that tax revenues had been underestimated. We also indicated our belief that low-cost housing expenditures should be increased without, however, prejudicing the defense effort. Similar points were made in talks at ministerial level, where French were informed that we hoped it would be possible to increase low-cost housing program. See also Foster conversation with de Margerie and Alphand reported in Torep 8993, rptd. ECA Mission as Ecato 1121.2