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State to Study Relief Problem of Indigents


Continued influx of thousands of indigents from the Middle West into various California counties, adding to increasing relief burdens, has resulted in the calling of a State wide conference at Los Angeles to be held during the week of July 19.

Photo of California Governor Frank MerriamGovernor Merriam has been asked to attend the conference.

Depression-era Hooverville at Oakland - Photo by Imogen CunninghamA serious relief crisis as well as possibility of epidemics is threatened, according to Supervisor Gordon McDonough of Los Angeles County, one of those instrumental in calling the relief conference.


Los Angeles county is the most seriously hit of all the counties of the State. According to Supervisor McDonough, 19.26 per cent of Los Angeles county’s estimated population of 2,366,904 is on relief. The Los Angeles Supervisors, through County Charities Superintendent Rex Thomson and Supervisor John Anson Ford, both Missouri family near Tracy, on Highway 99 - 1937 photo by Dorothea Langeof whom are now in Washington, have reported to the Federal authorities that 2,946,614 persons entered California by automobile during the 12-month period ending April 30 last. Of this total 74 percent indicated Southern California as their destination, and a great proportion of these persons needed manual employment.


That approximately 70,000 persons, mostly families from the dust bowl areas, are overtaxing relief and health agencies in the San Joaquin valley was reported by Harold H. Robertson, field secretary of the Gospel Army, a national social and relief body, has reported to the Supervisors. This report has hastened the calling of the relief conference, Supervisor McDonough announced.


The Los Angeles county Supervisors are sponsoring a plan to give county jobs to county residents and demand that the State and Federal governments care for indigent persons coming in from other States. In Los Angeles county, it is asserted, the relief costs have jumped from 92 cents per capita in 1925 to $44.52 in 1936, or $87.51 per taxpayer. The per capita cost for this year will be greatly increased by the horde of newcomers unless it is halted, authorities said.

San Francisco Chronicle
July 11, 1937

See: “War Hits the Farm Lands,” by John G. Brucato.
See: “Trade the Japanese for the Okies,” by Jane Harrell