The Homeless Transient in the Great Depression: New York State, 1929-1941

By Joan M. Crouse | Go to book overview

7
The Federal Transient Program
in New York State II, 1933-35

FOR as long as the issue of transient care had been contemplated one suggestion kept repeating itself: consolidate unattached transient men in work camps where physical and emotional rehabilitation could be realized through hard work and a clean and healthy environment. General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, had made such a proposal in 1904, and Edmund Kelly raised it again in 1908 as a means to "eliminate the tramps." 1 By 1933 many social workers had come to agree that this would be the best way to provide relief and rehabilitation for transient men. Not only would the transient benefit from the healthy atmosphere of the rural camp sites and the elixir of hard work and companionship, but the change of environment, it was hoped, would encourage the restoration of self-respect. Fortunately for the supporters of the proposal, Hopkins agreed. An integral part of the Federal Transient Program from the beginning was to encourage states to explore the possibility of transient camps -- the cost of which would be totally reimbursed by the program. On April 28, 1934, Hopkins gave added encouragement to the plan in FERA Bulletin T-42. The further development of a camp program for transients was referred to as the most satisfactory method of meeting the problem of the unattached male transient population. With this added stimulus, the 95 federal camps then in operation in March 1934 nearly doubled to 189 by July 1934. All but five of the states cooperating in the Federal Transient Program operated at least one camp: California topped the list with twenty-

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