/ahmz"hows'/, n., pl. almshouses /-how'ziz/. Chiefly Brit.
1. a house endowed by private charity for the reception and support of the aged or infirm poor.
2. (formerly) a poorhouse.
[1350-1400; ME almes hous. See ALMS, HOUSE]

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▪ American institution
also called  poor house  or  county home  

      in the United States, a locally administered public institution for homeless, aged persons without means. Such institutions radically declined in number in the second half of the 20th century, replaced by other means of subsistence and care.

      Dating to colonial days, the almshouse was used as a dumping ground for the mentally ill, the epileptic, the mentally retarded, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the crippled, the tuberculous, and the destitute aged, as well as for vagrants, petty criminals, prostitutes, unmarried mothers, and abandoned and neglected children. Operated often in conjunction with a farm, with emphasis on meeting costs through the sale of farm produce, the almshouse, or county home, incurred widespread criticism after the turn of the 20th century for its failure to provide differentiated treatment for the varying problems presented by residents, the minimum character of medical and nursing care offered, the low sanitation and safety standards, and the physical and mental deterioration of residents caused by neglect and the incompetence of the management. These evils were gradually but not altogether eliminated by the shift of the sick, the handicapped, and the young to specialized state institutions, a process that began in the middle of the 19th century, and the transfer out of able-bodied aged who could qualify for old-age assistance under the Social Security Act of 1935. From a peak of probably 135,000 in the early 1930s, the population of county homes dropped to an estimated 88,000 in 1940 and to 72,000 in 1950. Residents in 1950 consisted largely of aged infirm individuals. Closings and consolidations reduced the number of homes from 2,200 in 1923 to approximately 1,200 in 1950.

      The prohibition in the Social Security Act against federally aided old-age assistance to residents of public institutions reflected a conviction that almshouses were unnecessary; but experience after 1935, particularly the rapid growth of commercial nursing homes, indicated that many aged persons required sheltered care or at least home-supervised care and that, in the absence of other free facilities, the indigent aged will use some kind of local public institution. Recognition in the 1940s of this need came at a time of increasing public awareness of the lack of adequate facilities for the chronically ill long-term patient. As a result, a number of states passed legislation encouraging the conversion of almshouses to county infirmaries. Social security benefits and, later, Medicaid also substantially lessened reliance on public homes, until they became obsolete.

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Universalium. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Almshouse — bezeichnet mehrere gleichnamige, im NRHP gelistete, Objekte: Almshouse (Cambridge), Massachusetts, ID Nr. 82001908 Almshouse (Stoneham), Massachusetts, ID Nr. 84002464 Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demse …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Almshouse — Alms house , n. A house appropriated for the use of the poor; a poorhouse. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • almshouse — (n.) mid 15c., from ALMS (Cf. alms) + HOUSE (Cf. house) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • almshouse — ► NOUN ▪ a house founded by charity, offering accommodation for the poor …   English terms dictionary

  • almshouse — [ämz′hous΄] n. 1. Archaic a home for people too poor to support themselves; poorhouse 2. Brit. a privately endowed home for the disabled or aged poor …   English World dictionary

  • Almshouse — Almshouses are charitable housing provided to enable people (typically elderly people who can no longer work to earn enough to pay rent) to live in a particular community. They are often targeted at the poor of a locality, at those from certain… …   Wikipedia

  • almshouse — A house for the publicly or privately supported paupers of a city or county; may also be termed a mission . In England an almshouse is not synonymous with a workhouse or poorhouse, being supported by private endowment …   Black's law dictionary

  • almshouse — noun Date: 14th century 1. British a privately financed home for the poor 2. poorhouse …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • almshouse — noun A building of residence for the poor, sick or elderly of a parish. Originally founded by the Church. Usually a charity relying on donations for funding …   Wiktionary

  • almshouse — alms|house [ˈa:mzhaus] n in Britain in the past, a house where a poor person was allowed to live without paying rent …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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