What was the purpose of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Federal Emergency Relief Administration was one among the many projects started by President Franklin Roosevelt to counter effects of the Great Depression.

A few months into President Herbert Hoover’s term, signs of an economic meltdown began to present. The stock market crashed with traders sustaining approximately $40 billion in losses. Catastrophic economical events including the closing of factories and an increasing jobless community signified a turn of fortune for the American populace. A miscalculation by the Hoover administration led to the increase of international trade tariffs. The Great Depression breached the American border and affected other nations, worsening the situation. The electorate agitated for change eventually placing the responsibility of saving the economy on President Franklin Roosevelt.

The Federal Emergency Relief Administration was established to cushion the people directly from the impacts of poverty and to resuscitate the ailing economy. Five million dollars was distributed within the first two hours of its establishment directly to the states and in the next two years $3 billion was disbursed. These funds were used to provide welfare support and job creation opportunities by the states administrations. The Social Security board later on took over the responsibility of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main purpose of FERA was to provide money for "relief" to states and cities.  The money given out by FERA was used both to create jobs and to help people who had no jobs.

FERA was a system of giving matching grants to the states.  For every $3 that they spent, the federal government would provide $1.  The point of this was to encourage the states to set up programs that would benefit the poor over the long term.

The idea behind FERA was that people needed money immediately to help tide them over but also that this money was not sufficient.  The program was meant more to create jobs (like the CCC and the WPA did) because it was felt that just giving people welfare would be humiliating and would also not be beneficial in the long run.

Overall, then, the purpose of FERA was to help poor people to have enough money to get by and to help them get jobs.