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He had worked with (then Governor) Franklin Roosevelt in New York, and the two became good friends, with Hopkins serving as Roosevelt's chief advisor and confidant throughout his administration.Hopkins sprang into action less than a week after Roosevelt's inauguration, approaching Roosevelt's secretary of labor, Frances Perkins, with a plan for a program of federal relief.The economic collapse of 1929 known as the Great Depression caused widespread hardship throughout the United States.
The provisions of the Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933 provided that authorization for FERA would expire in two years from the date of inception.
The most pressing problem for FERA at first was to build up adequate local relief organizations.
Few of the existing state relief agencies had been in existence for more than 7 or 8 months at the time of creation of FERA.
Those state relief agencies that were deemed to be inadequate or flawed in some way had to be overhauled to meet the requirements of FERA.
Most states had little experience with running genuine work relief programs and almost no experience in providing appropriate work for white-collar workers.
Despite directives and orders issued in 1933, states and localities were not quick to cooperate by accepting federal projects.
96) In a report to Congress in 1936, FERA indicated that while actual physical suffering was prevented, it was never fully possible to achieve living standards of minimum decency for the entire population in need of relief.
It has been estimated that during this period of relief, roughly three-fourths of the heads of families on relief were employable.
The bulk of the work relief projects, were engineering and construction oriented.
Other projects included sanitation improvements, repair or construction of public buildings, national park improvements, real property surveys, library projects, art and theater projects, and archeological excavations.