The Problem

Since October, 1931, approximately $260,000 has been spent in cash in carrying on relief work in the Township of Teaneck. This money came from the following sources: Township and State--$222,000; United States Government (C.W.A.), about $23,000; private contributions, about $15,000. In addition to this a great quantity of clothing and food were received from the Red Cross, United States Government, and private individuals.

The $222,000 of Township and State money, and $4,396.89 of private funds, all passed through the hands of the Township Treasurer, and tables included herein show the details. The C. W. A. funds were paid out directly by the County organization, and only an approximation can be made of their amount. The funds estimated for private organizations are also, of course, only approximate. Almost all of this money resulted from the welfare drive in the winter of 1931-1932, and the Mayor's Emergency Relief Committee in the winter of 1932-1933. Aside from these known sources of relief, there has been, of course, a great deal of relief given through churches, clubs, organizations and individuals.

For the past year approximately 300 families have received aid each month. These 300 families represent approximately 1,300 persons. It will, therefore, be seen that about 7 or 8 % of the entire population of the Township has been drawing relief constantly. Also, of course, the individuals making up this average of 1,300 have varied greatly from month to month, and in all perhaps twice as many, or 2,600 people, have at some time or other throughout the year received help from the Township, aided by the State.

The manner and character of the aid given to these people has been in accordance with the standards set by the State Relief Administration. In 1924 the State of New Jersey enacted a model poor law which was, however, framed only for normal conditions and proved entirely inadequate in the present emergency. The standards of help given by the State Emergency Relief Organization are greatly in excess of those formerly thought necessary under standard poor laws.

During the summer of 1933, the State Administration of the Emergency Relief, recognizing the fact that the cost of the various food products had increased materially since the setting up of the food budget in force at that time, set up a new food budget. The new budget is slightly over 31 percent in excess of the old budget, figuring the amounts allowed for families of various sizes. The new schedule of food allowances was put into effect in Teaneck on September lst.

At the same time, the milk allowance was increased by the State Emergency Relief Administration, between five and six percent over the amount previously allowed. In addition to this, an order was sent to all Municipal Directors to prevent, as far as possible, any increase in malnutrition among children. During the past few months there have been frequent reports made to the Relief Bureau of such condition. Upon investigation and confirmation of the report, a doctor's certification has been obtained covering the amount of extra milk needed. The result of these regulations has been a very great increase in the cost of milk relief over that of a year ago.

Another State order which increased the cost of relief in December, 1933, was an allowance of 25 percent additional food relief given to all families during the week before Christmas. Also during the severe cold of the present season, the Relief Stations were instructed, that regardless of any coal allowance then in existence, to see that relief clients were supplied immediately with sufficient fuel to take care of their needs.

The relief load at the present time shows rather an increase than a decrease when allowance is made for the fact that C. W. A. funds are also being distributed.

Development of the Work

It was in October, 1931, that the State of New Jersey officially took cognizance of the prevailing situation and made provision for the State to assume a part of the relief costs. The plan at that time set up by the State included both dependency relief and unemployment relief or "work for relief." The moneys made available by the State were distributed among the municipalities in accordance with population. It was also stipulated that in dependency relief the State would pay 40 cents of each dollar expended, and that on the unemployment relief the State would pay 50% of all labor, the municipality having to assume 50% of the labor in addition to the cost of material and equipment. This program was conducted until July 1st, 1932. In Teaneck's case it was extended for one month by special dispensation.

Taking its place was the "work for relief" plan, whereby each person was to be given the help deemed necessary, in return for which he was to perform some useful service. In this plan, the State no longer distributed its funds in accordance with population, but rather on a basis of immediate need. Municipalities were divided with respect to their problems, and their financial resources. The normal municipality requesting aid of the State was given an "A" grant, under which the State contributed to the municipal costs. Municipalities in Teaneck's population class were required first to spend 15 cents per inhabitant out of their own funds and the next 15 cents per inhabitant was paid by the State. If the costs ran in excess of 30 cents per inhabitant, the additional load was to be shared equally between the State and the municipality, up to an additional total of 10 cents per month per inhabitant for the State's share.

In addition to this, provision was made for Special "A" grants, whereby the State, after investigation of all circumstances, would agree to pay more than the maximum fixed for "A" grants. It is under this type of grant that the Township of Teaneck has been in general operating under, to the extent that in 1933 the State paid 79.2 % percentage of the total relief load.

Provision was made for a third class of municipality which was entirely unable to provide relief money. In this class, known as a "B" class, the State stepped in and took the handling of the unemployment relief situation completely out of the hands of the municipality.

Last fall the National Government entered the situation through the C. W. A. and the C. W. S., the latter particularly for women, professional men and "white collar" workers.

The C. W. A. work, which was expected to remove men from the relief lists and thereby materially decrease relief costs, was helpful in this direction in only a very limited way. Due to bad weather conditions and severe cold, the men worked in many cases only one or two days a week and in some cases not at all. The reduction of the relief cost was comparatively slight, even in the beginning, and at the present time most of the families where there is a C. W. A. worker, require some degree of supplementary relief.

Detailed Costs and Expenditures of Township and State Moneys
Source of Funds

The detailed expenditures for a typical summer and a typical winter month are shown:

Month Families Aided No. of People Mild & Food Clothing Fuel Rent Misc. Salary Total
Dec. 311 1262 $5,202.34 $389.67 $2,165.64 $1,333.50 $685.03 $842.25 $11,618.43
July 337 1330 $4,944.51 $214.43 NA $2,174.50 $766.32 &840.38 $8,940.14

The Salary of the employees (all State) at the Municipal Relief Headquarters has been 10 % of the expenditures.

1931 Budget $3,035.52
1931 Budget Reserve 12.29
1932 Budget 5,000.00
1932 Budget Reserve 15,500.00
1933 Budget 33,656.35 (inc. $6,000 bond payment)
1933 Budget Reserve 343.65
Bonds outstanding 1-1-34 36,500.00
Total for Township $94,047.81
Checks received, 1932 $27,091.68
Checks received, 1933 99,795.58 ($19,873.85 of this received since 1-1-34)
1,600.00 (Bills outstanding, payable by State, approximately.)
Private funds turned over to Township
Mayor's Relief Committee $4,116.73
Miscellaneous 280.16
Total Cost of Relief to January 1, 1934
Township 41% $94,047.81  
State 57% 128,487.26  
Private  2% 4,396.89  
    104.68 (Balance on hand 1-1-34)
  Net $226,827.28  
Average expenditures per month for 26 1/2 months -- $8,500.00.
Division of Funds as to Unemployment and Emergency Relief
Cost to Township Cost to State Cost to Private Contrib.
Unemployment Relief $42,345.83 $21,500.00
Emergency Relief 51,701.98 106,987.26 $4,396.89
$94,047.81 $128,487.26 $4,396.89
Total Cost--Unemployment Relief $63,845.83
Total Cost--Emergency Relief 163,086.13
Status of Township's Share
Paid by Taxation $57,547.81
Included in 1931 budget for past expenditures 6,000.00
To be raised by future taxation 30,500.00
Relief Costs for 1933
17.2% Township Budgets $20,571.02 (Exclusive of 6,000 unemployment bond)
3.6% Private 4,357.33  
79.2% State 94,967.53  
Total   $119,895.88  
Relief Cost from October 13, to December 31,1932
68.7% Township  
  Budgets $30.976.79
  Bonds 42,500.00
  Private 39,56
31.3% State 33,519.73
  Total $107,036.08
Work Done
Unemployment Relief

When the unemployment relief plan was first announced in October, 1931, the Township of Teaneck immediately looked about for projects which would be of general benefit to the Township, and with the cooperation of the Board of Education the improvement of the Athletic Field was finally selected. This was virtually completed in August, 1932. Since most of the residents of Teaneck have visited the field, a detailed description of the work done is unnecessary. Its final cost was within a few dollars of $41,000. Of this amount, $19,000 was spent for trucks, materials and tools, and $22,000 for labor. In accordance with the regulations then obtaining, the State reimbursed the Township for half the labor costs in the amount of $11,000, leaving the net cost of the stadium project to the Township as $30,000. In addition to this primary project, numerous other projects were undertaken. The universal cry at that time was to "make work," and efforts were made to find all sorts of projects on which the men and women could be placed at work. These varied from street repairs, painting of municipal buildings, surveys, assessment revaluations, to sewing of many articles for the Holy Name Hospital. The money spent on this type of work amounted to $23,000.

During this period, funds were obtained as needed from time to time by borrowing on the Ideal banks, the net balance remaining after the State had reimbursed the Township, being converted into a $42,500 bond issue, maturing at the rate of $6,000 a year.

Work for Relief

With the completion of the unemployment relief program, the "work for relief" started, whereby those receiving relief returned labor therefor. The labor so available was used in a variety of work-part of it was sent out of the Town to the Palisade Interstate Park; some was used in the making of garments from cloth furnished by the Red Cross; some of it as special policemen for school traffic duty. Volunteer firemen were assigned to the fire houses. Considerable labor was assigned to the schools. Much of it went to the Public Works Department.

Much of the work was of a transitory nature and of a character which would not have been done had this labor not been available. From time to time restrictions were placed on the use of this labor by the State authorities, such as prohibiting its use for any work which would have otherwise been covered by budget expenditures, and a general decline in the rigidity of the rule requiring work for relief until for some time now very little labor is being furnished.

Civil Works Administration

C. W. A. projects were begun in the Township in the latter part of November. This work was and is being handled entirely independently of local officials, except that the Township is asked to recommend projects and to furnish engineering material and equipment. More and more insistence is being placed on the furnishing of the latter by the Township than was the case at first. These projects were put into effect almost over night, and naturally resulted in much confusion and lost motion the first weeks. The principle projects which have been undertaken in the Township of Teaneck are the improving of the Teaneck Station Plaza, the grading of Vandelinda Disposal Plant, some incidental street grading, and work on and about the schools. Many other projects were applied for and are still in the hands of the authorities. The work has progressed by fits and starts, new applications having to be made and re-made.

There were no C. W. S. assignments in the Township until this year when clerical help was furnished both to the Township and to the School Board.


In normal times the poor relief of the Township was handled by the Poor Master, as director, under the State's Poor Laws. However, with the magnitude of the present problem, and with the State participating, the Poor Master has been almost eliminated. The work is now organized by the State with headquarters in Newark and district organizations in each of the counties. In each municipality the State Relief Director appoints a Municipal Director. Though this appointment is made directly by the State, the approval of the local authorities is sought. The Municipal Director is the responsible official for his district, and has working under his direction the organization which actually looks after the details of registering applicants, making investigations, determining amount and character of relief, issuing and checking relief orders, and assigning labor to the various projects. Necessarily this work involves considerable detail. In the Township of Teaneck the Municipal Director has at present employed eight persons, all of whom were selected by him or his predecessors, mostly the former.

In the Township of Teaneck there have been three municipal relief directors, the present one being Dr. William K. Russell. All of these gentlemen were inducted into this trying office without any compensation to them.

Since the summer of 1932 the Township's part in the problem is primarily that of being the "banker" for the local administration. That is, it must make provision for the payment of all the bills either by means of its own appropriation or with State aid. Each month all bills incurred by the local municipal relief organization are checked and transmitted through the relief headquarters, to the Township for payment. The Township first pays bills to the amount agreed upon between it and the State for that particular month, after which an auditor representing the States goes over all of these bills and determines the amount remaining for which the State will accept responsibility. Following this audit the State transfers to the Township Treasurer a check for its share during the month, whereupon the Treasurer proceeds to pay the remaining outstanding bills. It may be realized that this throw& upon the Finance Officer a great deal of extra detail work in addition to his regular duties.

The Poor Master, with a salary of $250 a year, still remains on the job, his office having been established at the Emergency Relief Administration headquarters, so that the closest cooperation may exist between the two. His duties are very largely confined towards the placing of children in institutions, the burial of paupers, widow's pensions and like work.


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