Trends in Social Work, 1874-1956: A History Based on the Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work

By Frank J. Bruno | Go to book overview

33 · TRANSIENTS, IMMIGRANTS
AND REFUGEES

WE SHALL take care of transients. . . . Any state or group of states that wishes to present a plan for the care of transients can submit such a proposal . . . and if approved, we will finance it 100 percent." So said Harry Hopkins, at the Conference of 1933, within a month after the bill authorizing the Federal Emergency Relief Administration was passed. Apparently, no state or group of states took up the challenge, and in the fall of that year the Federal administrator established, according to C. M. Bookman at the next Conference (Proceedings, 1934), "the remarkable. . . . federal program for transients . . . [although] from the beginning this program faced the opposition of local officials and encountered prejudice against nonresident dependents [it] . . . gave promise of a national transient program, adequate in scope and effectiveness."

With the liquidation of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration by the end of 1935, the only decent, adequately financed plan for the care of the transient dependent came to an end after less than three years. The care of the transient then reverted to the localities in which he happened to be. It would be more accurate to say, perhaps, that he again became a man without a country, with no right to assistance from any source.

During the years of the economic depression ( 1930-39) the incidence of transiency was greatly increased by the migration of unemployed men and women in search of jobs; and it was swelled by uncounted thousands of farmers from the South and

-322-

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