Homelessness During the
Great Depression

By 1932, the "starvation army" of men on the road was the most apparent indication of a nation in a deepening economic crisis. The Great Depression of the 1930s gave origin to the notion of federal responsibility for the unemployed and poor. In the 1930s, little sympathy was given to transient homeless men and women (Rossi 25). Only the families in the Dust Bowl states who drifted to California to become the Okies engaged public sympathy. The outbreak of World War II significantly reduced the number of the homeless, absorbing them into the armed forces and into mushrooming war industries (Rossi 27).

In order to reduce the number of hoboes, trams, and bums, President Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. This was one of the few programs that allowed young, unmarried men to have a steady job, housing, and food. The Federal Transient Service also offered assistance for the homeless.