Establishment of a Desk in the FS Lounge/Housing Office

After the elimination of a housing information program which had been operated by DOS Personnel, AAFSW took over this function from a desk in the Foreign Service Lounge. In a way, that desk was a forerunner of the Family Liaison Office. The first president of the AAFSW recalled: “We quickly realized that there were needs other than housing, and we provided information on schools, on jobs for wives, on posts abroad, on local car and furniture rental and other facilities such as medical and recreation.”

June Byrne Spencer’s comments on the establishing of the Housing Office

June Byrne Spencer (1989)[ADST interview][Speech audio recording] Transcript file from, pp. 32-33

“Well, in any event, there was a very inadequate Housing Office that was in the Employee Relations Section. And in about 1959 or ’60, at the time that we were getting going, it was eliminated, that Housing Section, for budgetary reasons. And the head of the Employee Relations Section was very upset about it and came to us and said, “Could you develop a Housing Section for us? And we’ll give you space here.” Because he felt it was a very needed thing. There were just dozens, hundreds of people who were pouring in. And needed some kind of assistance. So we knew that the Army had a Housing Section for its employees and that it was run by a wives’ group. So that we went over and talked to them and we sent out letters to all of the real estate agents, all of the apartments, all of the hotels in town, asking if they would be interested in Foreign Service personnel coming to them. And giving our criteria. So we got back a lot of answers. And then we set up housing files.”

June Byrne Spencer
June Byrne Spencer (1989)[ADST interview][Speech audio recording] Transcript file from, p. 33

“We were really happy to be given the Desk, because not only did we want to help our employees and the women with housing, we wanted to set up files on a lot of other information that they were asking for. On schools. That’s where we had our files on income tax, on drivers’ licenses, dentists, everything you could think of. We had files at the desk. But the usual percentage was for housing – some for furniture rental.”

June Byrne Spencer
Article describing the FSWA Housing Desk
“New Desk in Foreign Service Lounge,” Foreign Service Newsletter, October 15, 1960