Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

May 15, 1936

THE PRESIDENT: I am going down the river over to Annapolis and into the Bay and I shall get back Sunday afternoon, late.

Q. Do you expect to sign any important bills before you leave over the week-end?

THE PRESIDENT: I shall sign a few I have in the basket and I shall act on the others over the week-end. . . .

Q. Mr. President, have you worked out the details of the Wagner Housing Bill yet?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I think they are making very good progress. I think there ought to be something over the week-end on it. . . .

Q. What about the future of the Resettlement Administration?

THE PRESIDENT: What part of it?

Q. There is a story in the morning papers that it is going to be washed out.

THE PRESIDENT: No, there is a great deal of confusion of thought about the Resettlement Administration. For example, there are perfectly practical reasons for handling—I have forgotten the exact numbers—550,000 relief families who are being kept off the work relief rolls, by both small grants to try to rehabilitate them on their own farms, and small loans keeping them on their own farms. That form of relief is, of course, a great deal cheaper than if we were to take them off the farms and put them on work relief. I think there are 550,000 or 600,000 families in that category. That work is going on.

Another phase of it is moving certain families from farms where they cannot possibly make a living, where they have proved that a living cannot be made, and trying to put them on better land. That is the second phase of the work. That is bound to go on because, on any analysis, it is cheaper than work relief.

Then, a third phase that really goes in with both of those —I have forgotten the term used—is helping those families either on their original farms, or on new farms with advice, because in a great many cases they have neither the experience nor, I am sorry to say, in some cases, the education to make good. Therefore, we think in the long run it will be much cheaper if we can constantly visit those people, and see that the lady of the house puts up vegetables and fruits, etc., and that the men of the family kill their own hogs for winter use, cultivate the land in the right way and try to put something back into the land to avoid erosion and to alternate crops.

In other words, the idea is to keep an educational system going with the expectation that after a year or two of that they will be better able to run things themselves. The figures show that that work is extraordinarily effective. Just offhand, I think that between 100,000 and 200,000 families have been educated in the past two years to run their own show and are now capable of doing it without any further Government aid. That is quite a lot of human beings.

Then the fourth phase of the work relates to rural settlements and semi-rural settlements. Of course a fairly large program has been undertaken on that, and it is bound to be carried through to completion. Whether we shall start any more new ones that we have not undertaken, I doubt. They might be called "samples" dotted here and there around the country.

Q. Those are the four Greenbelt projects?

THE PRESIDENT: No, those are the four out of a great many. They happened to be a certain type near cities. For example, the one 'between here and Baltimore is very nearly halfway finished, and that will not be a farm proposition. It is primarily for people who live in Washington and Baltimore. That is suburban. There are a great many others which are primarily rural.

Q. Mr. President, how about the purchase of submarginal land? Isn't that another feature of their work?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that of course has been going ahead; and I do not believe there will be very much more money spent on submarginal land because we are cleaning up existing funds. It does not mean the program is over. It means that in the coming fiscal year we shall not spend as much money on that as we have in the past fiscal year. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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