The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
ADEQUACY OF GENERAL RELIEF
PROGRAMS

CONSIDERATIONS of the adequacy of general relief measures must take into account two factors: the extent to which relief has not been available to persons who needed it and the degree to which aid given to those who can qualify for it is sufficient to provide them with the elementary necessities of life.


EVIDENCES OF UNMET NEED

In the opinion of one highly competent relief authority and statistician, the number of cases granted general relief late in 1940 and early in 1941 would have been approximately doubled if all states had met existing needs as nearly adequately as had those with the best organized general relief programs. Conclusive evidence as to whether this estimate is too low or too high is, of course, not at hand. However, there are indications that many needs have gone unmet.


"Surplus Commodities Only"

One measure of such needs is found in the extent to which "surplus commodities only" are granted to needy persons who fail to receive the relief to which these surplus foodstuffs are supposed to be only supplementary. For the purposes of this discussion, it is maintained that the giving of surplus commodi

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1

The term "unmet need" as used in this discussion refers primarily to denial of or failure to grant assistance to persons who may be in need. It applies, therefore, to the problem of coverage, rather than to questions regarding the adequacy of such grants as are made to persons who are assisted. This latter issue is discussed in a subsequent section of this chapter.

Whether persons are in need because of the inadequacy of WPA jobs or of other special assistance programs or the shortcomings of general relief measures is a moot question. Unmet need is treated in this volume primarily as an indication of the inadequacy of general relief programs since these are regarded as the last line of defense against destitution. Despite this fact, certain evidences of unmet needs among employable persons and more particularly among those previously employed by or regarded as eligible for WPA employment are not discussed here but in chap. 25.

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