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

By Joan M. Crouse | Go to book overview

10
"On Every Town's Doorstep"

THE situation in New York State immediately following liquidation closely paralleled the confusion and chaos that reigned nationwide. In New York City private agencies, straining to take care of their own, could not absorb the transient. At the same time, public relief to nonresidents was limited to a single night's care at the municipal lodging house. A one-night census of the city conducted by the Emergency Relief Bureau found six thousand men sleeping in subways, parks, abandoned buildings, terminals, and similar make- shift shelters. An acute situation in Albany caused the private agencies to announce in November that the problem was beyond their resources, and, with the exception of Jewish assistance agencies, all private aid for transient men was to be discontinued. At that time there were already almost one thousand transient or unsettled people in the capital district and hundreds more were soon to be released from nearby camps. While attempts were made to reopen the Salvation Army's Lyon Lodge to accommodate those left homeless by the closing of the federal camps, all that was currently available were two local missions or "accommodations" at the police precincts. According to the local representative of the NCCTH, the efforts of that group to secure shelter and aid for the homeless had thus far been fruitless:

There isn't any public agency where these men can be taken care of . . . .We've sent telegrams to the President, to H. L. Hopkins, to the governor, and we talked to Lester W. Herzog, administrator, WPA, but we haven't accomplished anything. Private agencies haven't funds to take care of these people. The government won't

-229-

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