Administration of Public Welfare

By R. Clyde White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
MATERIAL RELIEF

Material relief includes payments of money and assistance in kind. Money payments may be made in cash or by check. Relief in kind may take the form of grocery orders, orders for other necessities, or maintenance in an institution. A relief agency may provide more than one kind of relief; for example, it may pay cash to persons living in their own homes, and it may provide relief in kind to others who are maintained in an almshouse. The agency may give the client cash for food and clothes but pay the rent directly to the landlord. Likewise a client who receives cash to pay his ordinary expenses may be given authority to consult a physician but no money to pay for medical services; the agency pays the physician at some rate previously agreed upon. Some material relief is given under the pauper laws, and the recipient is legally a pauper. On the other hand, certain groups of needy persons have been removed by statute from the jurisdiction of the pauper laws, and the recipient of material relief under these new laws avoids pauper status, although he is being supported at public expense.

The term "pauper" has varying significance. As a colloquial term it is likely to be applied quite generally to the inmates of alms- houses, and it is common to apply it to persons receiving aid from the traditional overseers of the poor, such as township trustees or township supervisors. But many states have adopted new legislation regarding direct relief which does not designate recipients of relief as paupers. Fifteen states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have such laws.1 One of the aims of the new public assistance laws was to remove these special categories of needy persons from the scope of the pauper laws. Historically, "When any member of the legally constituted family is in need of support, and the legal head of the family, on whom the duty to support the family

____________________
1
Robert C. Lowe, State Public Welfare Legislation, 1939, Table 4, pp. 68-69.

-169-

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