Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 172
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 172
21 it had been cut down to 121. The problem of the honestly homeless, who were without means to pay for a bed even in a ten-cent lodging house, and who had a claim upon the city by virtue of residence in it, had dwindled to surprisingly small proportions. Of 9386 lodgers, 3622 were shown to have been here less than sixty days, and 968 more not a year. The old mistake, that there is always a given amount of absolutely homeless destitution in a city, and that it is to be measured by the number of those who apply for free lodging, had been reduced to a demonstration. The truth is that the opportunity furnished by the triple alliance of stale beer, free lunch, and free lodging at the police station was the open door to permanent and hopeless vagrancy. Men, a good bishop said, will do what you pay them to do: if to work, they will work; if you make it pay them to beg, they will beg; if to maim helpless children makes begging pay better, they will do that too. See what it is to encourage laziness in man whose salvation is work.
What a Search of the Lodgers brought forth.
  A city lodging house was established, with decent beds, baths, and breakfast, and a system of investigation of the lodger’s claim that is yet to be developed to useful proportions. The link that is missing is a farm school, for the training of young vagrants to habits of industry and steady work, as the alternative of the workhouse. Efforts to forge this link



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