Ways In Which The Poor Of New York City Are Assisted 1896

Millions Spent In Charity
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It is not generally known, except by certain persons whose office it is to learn of such matters, that the immense sum of $9,500,000 is annually expended in charity in the City of new York. That, at least, is the approximate amount, estimated as closely as circumstances admit of on the part of experts. Mr. Charles D. Kellogg, General Secretary of the Charity Organization Society of the City of new York, confirms the general correctness of this estimate, with the qualification that an absolutely accurate statement of the amount dispensed cannot be given.

For example, while a fairly good estimate of the amount given by some 5,000 benevolent families or households of the city, whose names are listed at the united Charities Building as generous givers on systematic lines, it cannot be known how much individual members of these families give at various times through the year in the street and at their places of business. No account is kept of such donations as a rule. Though amounting to considerable in the aggregate, they are looked upon as trifles and driblets.

So large an amount given in charity as $9,500,000 per annum includes, of course, everything, namely, the $2,000,000 appropriated by the City Government for the support of the poor in the city institutions as well as for outdoor relief; the money given by some 620 churches, from $450,000 to $500,000, are disposed of in various ways, and the manner of distribution is not without interest.

The city's part in the distribution is a straightaway providing for the homeless and hungry poor in its institutions or by giving relief in the way of food and fuel only to those who have a roof over their heads and some clothing for their nakedness, but little else. And here is where the benevolent families heretofore spoken of come in. In many cases money to pay the overdue rent is given by them: in others, clothing and food and other household necessities. More than one poor household is thus frequently provided with coal, food, and clothing day by day during a season of non-employment on the part of the wage earner, where otherwise the inevitable eviction would take place.

The benevolent societies and institutions assist, as a rule, the poor of their own order, nationality, race, or religious denomination whenever such are in need, through illness or other misfortune. These, as has been said, are by far the largest number to be cared for. Whenever an accident happens to the wage earner of a worthy family, or sudden illness overtakes him, the society or institution of his nationality or religious belief cheerfully provides for the necessary comforts of the helpless ones of the household. In like manner the churches look after the needy poor of their parishes, assisting them in their overdue rents, fuel, clothing, and food. It is pleasant to note in this connection that Trinity Church Corporation, through the officers of its various chapels and branches, expends annually the sum of $30,000, exclusive of its free schools, for which nearly an equal amount is disbursed.

In the distribution of these vast charity funds no unimportant part is played by the United Charities Corporation, an institution of comparatively recent establishment, with headquarters in the United Charities Building, at Fourth Avenue and Twenty-second Street. It will be recalled that Mr. John S. Kennedy, the banker, some three years or more ago built and gave to the United Charities this fine building as a permanent home for all the charitable societies of New York City. The Charity Organization Society was the leading association at the time of the establishment of the United Charities Corporation, as, indeed, it is today. A Statement, therefore, of its principles and objects as set forth in its constitution is both interesting and explanatory. It declares that every department of its work shall be completely severed from all questions of religious belief, politics, and nationality; that no person representing the society in any capacity whatsoever shall use his position for the purpose of proselytism, and that the society shall not directly dispense alms in any form.

It further declares the society to be a centre of intercommunication between the various churches and charitable agencies of the city to foster harmonious cooperation between them, and to check the evils of the overlapping of relief. It undertakes to investigate thoroughly the cases of all applicants for relief which are referred to the society for inquiry, and give full reports thereon to persons interested; to obtain the proper charities and charitably inclined individuals, suitable and adequate relief for deserving cases; to procure work for poor persons who are capable of being wholly or partially self-supporting; to repress mendicancy by these means and by the prosecution of impostors, and, finally, to promote the general welfare of the poor by social and sanitary reforms and by the inculcation of habits of providence and self-dependence.

As an illustration of the work of the United Charities Association, not long since the case of a woman who had offered her child for baptism at a certain church, and who had secured relief for alleged necessities, was referred to, and investigated by the society, when it was discovered that she had had the child baptized in four other different churches at short intervals, and had secured the relief attendant upon such action. The woman was found to be thoroughly undeserving. This was only one of hundreds of cases where unscrupulous persons have been detected by the society in attempted fraud and imposture upon the charitably inclined. There is little doubt that much prevention of fraud and saving of waste in the dispensing of charity funds is performed in this way by the United Charities throughout each year.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Ways in Which the Poor of New York City are Assisted 1896
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 New York Times July 5, 1896 p.28 (1page)
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