The committee's report was laid before a general meet ing of citizens on June 13 of the same year. One of the reasons given by them for a radical reform in the general administration of all relief agencies was the inefficiency and corruption which pervaded the city outdoor relief as distributed by the official visitors of the guardians of the poor. " The public has but slight acquaintance with their work and no sympathy for it. They are regarded with more or less distrust which is often based on ignorance and makes no allowance for the peculiar legal embarrass ments they encounter, such as their obligation to provide for all who come to them without visible means of support. The best of the officials intrusted with the management of the system would, we are assured, be glad to find the people of the city showing some sense of responsibility for their work, and helping to set them free from such a legal subjection to imposture by a complete system of voluntary visitation and inquiry." The committee proposed the organization of a society to be called " The Philadelphia Society for Organizing Char itable Relief and Repressing Mendicancy," which should constitute a central agency, through which all the public and private charities of the city might work for mutual protection, economy, and efficiency. This somewhat for midable and impressive action created much anxiety and corresponding opposition among the political dispensers of the official relief from the city treasury, who resented interference with so profitable an instrument of political patronage ; and professional politicians began to devise means to strangle the reform at its birth. To crush the pre tensions of the new society—that by a better adjustment and coordination of all public and private charity, the claims and needs of the dependent classes could be more adequately and economically met — it leaked out that it was, in the following year (1879), determined by its enemies to suspend the twelve paid visitors, who were the dispensers of the $50,000 to $75,000 previously appropri ated annually to the overseers of the poor for outdoor relief, and taking the new-born enterprise at its word, to throw upon it the whole burden of relieving those who for years had applied to the city for coal, groceries, etc., and had received doles froni the visitors. The new society began in November, 1878, and the following year the city's winter budget cut off all customary pro vision for the city outdoor relief, and citizens were re quested to refer all applicants for relief, not otherwise provided for, to the new society, which bravely under took the burden. It was urged that such a change would increase the suffering among the poor, would swamp the voluntary relief societies, and, by filling the almshouse to overflowing, would increase the expenses of the indoor departments of the guardians of the poor far beyond the amount which would be saved by abolishing the outdoor relief.
The results may thus be summarized. When the first winter was passed, and its work was reviewed, it was found that the number of applicants heretofore receiving city re lief, and applying to the new as well as to the older relief societies, was, after the first sixty days, too small for com putation ; that the general relief societies discovered no appreciable increase of the demands upon them ; and that the almshouse population had diminished to such an extent that the expenses of the overseers were reduced by $23,900. The total saving in the first ten years after, as compared with the ten years before, the abolition of outdoor relief was an average of $99,652 a year, notwithstanding the city's rapid increase in population ; and the fourth annual report of the Society for Organizing Charity noted a marked decrease of vagrancy and street begging apparent throughout the city.
Other accounts differ from that given by Mr. Kellogg in assigning the necessity for economizing as the chief rea son for the change of system, but, whatever the motive, it is clear that the change was not made at the direct request of the society, or as the result of sentiment against out door relief created by direct agitation. Whatever the causes that brought about the discontinuance of outdoor relief, the past twenty-five years have witnessed a complete acquiescence in the present plan. In the severe winter of 1894 a large relief fund was collected under the direc tion of the voluntary " mayor's committee." There was, however, no proposition in the city councils to outdoor relief, and the Department of Charities and Cor rection would have been quick to oppose any such proposi tion if it had been made. There has been no distribution of relief funds through the police department since 1894, when a small sum contributed by private citizens was placed in its hands.
Boston. — In the city of Boston the discussion on the sub ject of outdoor relief reached an acute stage in the year 1888, when a committee of the board of overseers of the poor visited Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington to confer with persons interested in pub lic and private charity on the subject. All of these cities had been without any general system of outdoor relief for at least ten years. In a pamphlet published by the board, the committee reports its observations in the cities visited and its conclusion that a change from the system then in vogue in Boston to that of any of the cities visited would be a change for the worse. Special prominence is that part of the report which deals with Brooklyn. Stress is laid upon the large amount annually donated from the public treasury to private charitable institutions, including a payment of from $110,000 to $140,000 per year for the board of children. This system was believed by the com mittee to be much more harmful than outdoor relief as managed in Boston. The committee also points out that the principal private relief society gave on an average but $1.54 a year to a family, of which one-fourth came from the public purse. The committee makes the pertinent suggestion that if the contention of the critic of outdoor relief is valid, that the $10 or $12 provided by the over seers of the poor could be discontinued without injury, it would be equally possible for the poor of Brooklyn to do without the $1.54 supplied by the private society, and that if only this amount stands between them and independence, it would be very desirable for Brooklyn to give up private relief entirely. Arguing the matter more seriously the committee thinks that the amount provided is not sufficient to prevent suffering, and that in many instances families are broken up unnecessarily, while a large amount of indi vidual aid is probably given with little or no investigation.
Alfred T. White, in letters published in Lend-a-Hand, contested the last point, quoting testimony to the effect that alms were asked less frequently than before outdoor relief was discontinued. Mr. White also insists that there is no connection between the number of dependent chil dren and outdoor relief, or that if there is any, the relation of the system of public outdoor relief to dependency is similar to that which it bears to adult indoor relief ; i.e. to augment the amount of dependency in both forms. Ben jamin Pettee, secretary of the board of overseers, replied to Mr. White's first letter, but made no reply to the fuller presentation of statistics and opinions contained in Mr. White's second letter, dated March 7, 1889.